I love an inspiring quote.
I listen carefully to the stirring words of the great and the good. I devour them in articles and books. Little flags of wisdom and motivation, I’ve copied them down in diaries, laminated them, re-tweeted them, even memorised one or two belters.
But the problem with a laminated quote is that words, delivered to you without conceivable action, unhooked from their underpinning intent, can just drift on by. They don’t really anchor themselves in the soul or explode in your consciousness.
This week I met someone from Stockton-on-Tees who embodies what it is to be real. What is means to be authentic, and so, deliver a message with the power to change the course of someone’s life for the better.
As a parent I see how often my words alone mean little to my kids, yet what I do, and how I live, screams through a loud-speaker.
Paul Burgum connects with young people in Billingham through BCT Aspire as he says what he means, he means what he says and he lives every word. There is no vacuous talk in Paul’s life. He dreams big, takes action to achieve those dreams, then, no matter what, he does not give up. In this way his words are not momentarily inspiring, they stick.
Paul has suffered particular forms of adversity that many local young people can understand. He knows what it means to be in pain, be that emotionally, physically and mentally. He also now knows how to manage that pain, creating safety valves to release it in a positive way, building opportunity, resilience, passion and achievements.
One of the things that really struck me about Paul was the individual way he responds to the young people he works with. BCT Aspire promote sports, music and art but ultimately they are wholly individually focused. They don’t have a pre-conceived idea of what the young people who attend and volunteer with them will relate to- Paul wants every young person to celebrate their own uniqueness. For each he allows them to try (safely fail, get back up and try again) at whatever they hope for, daring to be honest about their dreams.
When we visited BCT Aspire on Thursday this week the weekly music group had assembled. One member, Ellie, had been saving hard from a paper-round towards an acoustic bass, an instrument she loves but the group didn’t yet have. Paul had spent the previous weekend completing the St Oswald’s Ultra Marathon, 100 miles of running, to raise sponsorship money for the whole project. Raising enough he presented a bass to Ellie on behalf of the group; a specific tangible goal achieved directly due to the determination put in, both from Paul and Ellie.
It was a beautiful moment to watch the group grow, in every sense.
Paul Burgum and the young people of BCT Aspire – that’s Real Stockton.