At last some good news. After a biblically testing year, when Covid-19, wildfires, lies and misdirection spread across the globe, it looks like there is cautiously cause for a little celebration: a vaccine, courtesy of Turkish scientists and a US/German pharmaceutical giant. Light at the end of the tunnel, a break from all the doom-scrolling, the endless rabbit hole of shifting facts and terrible stats, the drama porn we’ve been tapping into on a daily basis. Is it possible we are going to like good news? Well, a glance at Google Trends shows people have been endlessly searching for “good news coronavirus?” And lest we forget that actor John Krasinski scored a huge hit with his own YouTube channel Some Good News – way back in April – with nearly 70million views worldwide. Krasinski celebrated large and small acts of kindness during the first Lockdown, and sold the format to Viacom/CBS for some good dollars. So to celebrate this new positive vibe, here are some of CORQ’s happy headliners of 2020…
In August 2020 a tiny miracle happened. Elle Wright, known as Feathering The Empty Nest, brought home a little girl. Four years ago, her son Teddy lived for just three days and she returned to her empty nest, devastated. She began writing about interiors to help her navigate the pain and inspired thousands of women. Then she wrote a bestselling book about the death of her son, Ask Me His Name, and has been instrumental in changing the conversation around baby loss, as well creating a foundation in Teddy’s name. She is now taking a break from social media to spend time with her daughter, no you’re crying.
Perhaps there was a time when you didn’t know who Joe Wicks was. Maybe he was just that online exercise guy to you, the one with the floppy locks and the pecs. Now, though, he’s the nation’s PE teacher, with an MBE and chart-topping books, podcasts and a YouTube channel that saved many a family in Lockdown 1.0 with his daily workouts, PE with Joe – the squats that went global He missed doing them so much that he’s started again in Lockdown 2. Not only that but he raised £2 million for Children in Need by working out for 24 hours straight. From successful YouTuber to global sensation with letters after his name in six months. Here’s to the year of the Joes.
This year has been tough, but for some it’s also been the crystallising of their careers. Take, Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender model and activist whose path has been hampered by corporate crises and miscommunications. In September 2017, she was removed from L’Oreal’s True Match campaign following accusations of racism. In response to the notorious Proud Boys rally in Charlottesville, she had written a Facebook post about white supremacy accusing all white people of being racist. L’Oreal claimed her views were “at odds” with its values. Then, in 2018 she resigned from her LGBT advisor role in the Labour Party, citing the pressure of the “Conservative media” using her as a political pawn. However in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, she called out L’Oreal for posting a Blackout Square, writing that they had never acknowledged the harm they had caused when they had thrown a black female queer transgender employee to the wolves. It wasn’t just Bergdorf who challenged the company – there was global disapproval of L’Oreal’s behaviour from a coalition of communities in support of Bergdorf. Ultimately it ended in the CEO of L’Oreal reaching out to her and asking her to rejoin L’Oreal, this time as a consultant, sitting on the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board. The year culminated in her being on the cover of Time magazine as one of its Next Generation Leaders, and an 11 publisher bidding war for her book, Transitional, out in 2021. Dare to dream.
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Another beautiful baby story – this time it’s the turn of Sophie Beresiner, the beauty journalist who began charting her surrogacy story on her website The Mother Project and via her column in The Times. A breast cancer diagnosis in 2010 was followed by years of health issues, a complicated and heartbreaking process of embryos with donor eggs, of miscarriages, of IVF failure, of stolen fertility and then the decision to seek a surrogate – with its own terrible tensions. And finally, in May 2020, a baby girl, Marlies, was born. A decade of tears and now a tiny ray of sunshine. Beresiner will also be delivering a book in 2021.
One of the enduring images of the Black Lives Matter protests is that of Patrick Hutchinson, a personal trainer and children’s athletics coach from South London, carrying an injured far right protester to safety. The photograph was a sensation, as was Patrick Hutchinson’s innate coolness and kindness under pressure. The sheer strength and generosity of the man, carrying a foe as if it was no thing. A book was quickly commissioned – written with the poet and performer Sophia Thakur. It’s called Everyone Versus Racism: A Letter to My Children and in an Instagram post on November 12th, Thakur wrote: “The very fact that I’m allowed to post this post, is testimony to the character of the man that I’ve gotten to know so well over the past few months as his ‘ghostwriter’.” It’s publication day for this labour of love and hope. Yesterday it hit the Amazon bestseller list and I’m not the least bit surprised. The story and heart of this father and friend is truly indescribable. But I tried anyway, and now we have a book. @iampatrickhutchinson from the moment we started our hours of FaceTimes and phone calls…felt it necessary to remove any notion of “ghostwriting”. He was adamant that the world should know that we were working together on this. He might say that he had the easy part, telling his story and sharing his thoughts on family, blackness and so much more. But honestly…turning his words and ideas into stories was the easy part, because everything about him is underpinned by the same morals. Love and humanity.” A story of trust, collaboration, honesty and endeavour.
Last but not least is Emily Coxhead, the founder of The Happy News, a colourful quarterly newspaper that focusses on positive news and wonderful people. Coxhead started The Happy Newspaper from her Lancashire bedroom, aged 22, when she felt that the negative news cycle was causing her anxiety to spike. Since she launched in 2015, her army of fans has grown and she now delivers to over 12K people, with a circulation of over 40,000. The success, particularly this year, has meant that in September 2020 she was able to launch an initiative, “The Happy News For Schools”, supplying schools with free newspapers so that children could hear about good stuff and not just the terror. The initiative means that they send one free newspaper to a school in the UK for every two newspapers, and so they will be sending 10K newspapers to 10K schools towards the end of 2020. Start spreading the good news.
10 defining digital moments of the year that was 2020, from Verzuz to TikTok