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A unique voice at a London subway stop remains as an act of kindness to a grieving widow

If you travel on the subway in the London Underground, you'll hear various automated recordings of instructions and announcements for passengers. But at one stop, one instruction stands out from the rest—a unique voice warning people to "Mind the gap."

It's not actually new. The same voice issued the same warning for decades, but was replaced in 2012 when the Underground installed a new digital system.

Weeks later, though, it was back. Why? Because kind Underground workers wanted to help a grieving widow who missed hearing her late husband's voice.


RELATED: Viral stories of people helping strangers pay for groceries are inspiring other acts of kindness

The story of the voice at the Embankment Tube station was shared on Twitter by writer and historian John Bull, and its pure sweetness has people everywhere "cutting onions."

Bull introduced the story about "London, trains, love and loss, and how small acts of kindness matter," then wrote in a long thread:

"Just before Christmas 2012, staff at Embankment Tube station were approached by a woman who was very upset.

She kept asking them where the voice had gone. They weren't sure what she meant.

The Voice?

The voice, she said. The man who says 'Mind the Gap.'

Don't worry, the staff at Embankment said. The announcement still happens, but they've all been updated. New digital system. New voices. More variety.

The staff asked her if she was okay.

'That voice,' she explained, 'was my husband.'

The woman, a GP called Dr Margaret McCollum, explained that her husband was an actor called Oswald Laurence. Oswald had never become famous, but he HAD been the chap who had recorded all the Northern Line announcements back in the seventies.

And Oswald had died in 2007.

Oswald's death had left a hole in Margaret's heart. But one thing had helped. Every day, on her way to work, she got to hear his voice.

Sometimes, when it hurt too much, she explained, she'd just sit on the platform at Embankment and listen to the announcements for a bit longer.

For five years, this had become her routine. She knew he wasn't really there but his voice - the memory of him - was.

To everyone else, it had just been another announcement. To HER it had been the ghost of the man she still loved.

And now even that had gone.

The staff at Embankment were apologetic, but the whole Underground had this new digital system, it just had to be done. They promised, though, that if the old recordings existed, they'd try and find a copy for her.

Margaret knew this was unlikely, but thanked them anyway.

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In the New Year, Margaret McCollum sat on Embankment Station, on her way to work.

And over the speakers she heard a familiar voice. The voice of a man she had loved so much, and never thought she'd hear again.

'Mind the Gap' Said Oswald Laurence.

Because it turned out a LOT of people at Embankment, within London Underground, within @TfL and beyond had lost loved ones and wished they could hear them again.

And they'd all realised that with luck, just this once, for one person, they might be able to make that happen.

Archives were searched, old tapes found and restored. More people had worked to digitize them. Others had waded through the code of the announcement system to alter it while still more had sorted out the paperwork and got exemptions.

And together they made Oswald talk again."

According to an article in the Metro, Margaret was also given a CD of Oswald's voice recordings. Beautiful.

Such stories of human connection and kindness are what renew our faith in humanity and remind us that a little kindness can go a long way.

Now pardon me while I go replace my box of tissues.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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