Pharrel Williams

I love Woolworths for so many reasons……..

My right hand is spastic which makes chopping up food for a meal particularly onerous. I can do it – sure! But you can imagine how much easier it is to simply buy “Woolies” food which has already been sliced, diced, chopped and cut up. Sheer bliss! I’ve had many a glorious dinner party that has solely been catered for by Woolworths. And let me tell you, my dinner parties are something else! Woolies cheesecakes and butternut soup regularly make appearances in my kitchen. An advantage of living alone is that no one stops you making a cheesecake visit to the fridge at 3.30 in the morning!

WoolworthsI performed my one woman show, Gaynor Rising, in Durban and Cape Town. I was desperate to take it to Johannesburg but I needed sponsorship. I approached Woolworths and asked if I could appear in a promotional campaign that they were running at that time. They were using the words and faces of gifted creative artistic South Africans to promote their stores. I told them that I was an artist both before and after my accident. They responded positively, but explained that they couldn’t sponsor my show directly, but would cast me in an advertisement. I could obviously use the money I was paid as I wished. I set off to do this assignment with a light heart. What a wonderful experience it proved to be. I took my cockatiel, Pandora, with me. I thought she would make a wonderful co-star! However Marco, the photographer, was reluctant to use her because of the flash. He had once before been shooting a woman and a baby rabbit. Apparently the flash went off and rabbit promptly had a heart attack and died!!!
So Pandora remained safely in her cage out of flash range!

Woolworths has made my heart smile again.
Their Christmas ‘Giving Back‘ campaign has struck a chord. They aim to help ten children with severe hearing problems. They also will provide much needed specialist equipment for ear and hearing examinations helping more than 750 children a year. They will make a donation to the Children’s Hospital Trust, every time a linked Woolworths Rewards or MySchool card is swiped between the 5th November and the 25th December. As part of this campaign, Woolworths flew three deaf children who they had previously helped to London to take part in an photo shoot with Pharrell Williams. He is an international singer-songwriter, producer, fashion designer and philanthropist. As one of the children’s mothers said after this experience: “Today because of Woolworths, these children can lead normal lives. Through this campaign we want to show what a difference people’s contribution can make.”

For me, being deaf was a solitary, lonely existence. Having my Cochlear Implants changed my life completely. The universe seemed to explode into being once more. It bought the world back to me and me back to the world. I could hear the sound of birdsong, children’s voices and the wind in trees. These deaf children, that Woolworths will be helping, have never heard. Their ears have not been awakened to glorious sound. I watched a video of a ten month old baby who was fitted with a Cochlear Implant and then “switched on”. She heard her mother’s voice! Indeed she heard sound for the first time. The delighted smile that spread across her face is a sight I don’t ever want to forget.

Cochlear Implants are expensive. Very expensive! R275,000 each. What Woolworths is doing is a mind blowing thing. They are almost making these children whole again.
Kahlil Gibran says: “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”
How I love those words! Woolworths is going to be helping children hear. In return these ‘hearing’ deaf children will have the opportunity to give so much back to the world. Isn’t that what giving is all about?

An evening before Christmas, I walked up my parents drive with my new Cochlear Implant. I stopped half way. Dead still. The front door was open and I could hear the Christmas carol that Mum was playing on her Hi-Fi. She was singing along in the kitchen, her voice clear and true.
Oh Holy Night, The stars are brightly shining, this is the night of my dear Saviour’s birth….
Tears filled my eyes. That was the first carol I had heard in eighteen years.
I stood there in the darkening evening air and I rejoiced in sound.
I glory in the knowledge that these ‘Woolworths’ children will one day also be able to enjoy the delight of Christmas carols!