WITH the annual county-wide festive lights aglow and the preparations for the inevitable spending onslaught well under way my thoughts go out to those in our community that will view the prospect of the coming celebrations with a sense of sadness and stress.

The winter festival season brings into sharp focus all the aspects of life that are most valued, such as the coming together of loved ones, warmth of spirit and the positive aspects of sharing and showing our love and appreciation for those we hold dear.

For those unfortunately excluded from this celebration by reason of homelessness, family breakdown, economic hardship or illness this time of year can be extremely challenging. That said, it is often the time of year when the milk of human kindness flows strongest and all sorts of people from diverse backgrounds step up and into action to support those without.

This year is a particularly poignant year with the recent misfortune experienced by Kyle Roe, the young man from Chippenham who was so severely injured in the horrendous gas explosion at his flat in Chippenham. This left him with over eighty per cent burns and he is currently fighting for his life with the fantastic support of the First Responders and the specialist burns unit at Swansea hospital and by his loving family and friends.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Kyle for some years now and he was a welcome attendee of our weekly Kandu Kicks football programme in his younger years, where he impressed me greatly, not only because he was a fellow Tottenham Hotspur supporter, but more so by his unrelenting tenacity and teamwork.

Two weeks before the heart-breaking event that now sees him needing that same fight and tenacity to see him through, I caught up with him whilst walking up Chippenham High Street and was delighted and proud to hear of the progress he had made into his early adult life. He was telling me of his new found independence, with a good job, lovely flat and motorbike. He was the happiest I had ever seen him and we parted with an equal sense of optimism and happiness.

The shock and sadness that has followed since the traumatic events have now moved forward into trying to make a bad situation more positive. To that end my colleagues and I at Kandu, along with the good folk at Chippenham’s Constitutional Club (or the Consti as it is better known by the community) and performing artists young and old will be lending their talents to support the family’s desire to give something back to the wonderful professionals at Swansea hospital.

It is so uplifting that in spite of such trying and tragic circumstances Kyle’s family want to support those who support Kyle and the countless individuals who receive their much-needed specialist help. The family and supporters have set up a JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/robynne-hinkley-2 and we, along with all the generous support from local people, aim to boost the fund as much as possible at the event on Monday, December 4.

The event starts at 8pm and entrance will be by donation, so as much or as little as anyone can spare will be very welcome. Acts confirmed so far include the wonderful young people who attend the Kandu music sessions and Harmony Thomas, who supported the Wurzels, Joe Scroi, Tori West, Melanie Thomas, James North, Simon Garraway, Brian Reid will be adding his poetic pieces to the mix and the fantastic Mosaic Dogs and Lindsay Miller of the Old Road Tavern have kindly agreed to support our efforts (if you would like to perform, please contact Kandu Arts). If you can’t make the event, please support the JustGiving page or Dickies The Barbers of Park Lane have a collection bucket.

At times like these we need to show our support and sense of community, I interpret community as that which unifies us commonly, love being the most powerful unifier...