Paying Forward

Last week, I wrote about Brendan Farrell.
His idea of “paying a bit forward” struck a powerful chord with me.
The hay convoy he organised and others supported went to a part of Australia that has experienced eleven years of drought in the last fourteen years.
Bourke has experienced a lot of drought.
Many years ago, when I lived in North Wales, I became very aware of the stress hill farmers experienced at a time of low (or no) market value for their sheep. There was great concern for their welfare but limited structural opportunities to make the situation better.
I think paying forward is the way we support people in these circumstances.
When I wrote my post about Brendan, I did not know that Catherine Ryan Hyde had written the novel Pay It Forward. Or that the book had become a film in 2000 (with Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt). There is a Pay It Forward Movement too.
A 2012 report from Catalyst, High Potentials in the Pipeline: Leaders Pay It Forward indicates some of the long term impact of kindness. The report notes that ‘high-potentials who are paying it forward today recognize that others once took a risk on them and gave them their chance—and now it’s their turn’.
The goals of the Pay It Forward movement are:

  • To encourage all of us to embrace the incredible power of giving.
  • To show each other that we care and that there is love, hope and magic all around us.
  • To know that we may be only one person in this world, but to one person, at one time, we are the world.

Photo Credit

Bourke Sunset (Tim J Keegan, CC BY-SA 2.0)


  1. Wonderful post Keith. Thank you. I have been thinking a lot about drought as an analogy to chronic illness. Juxtaposed with a comparison of bush fire or other sudden acute weather event to an acute episode in healthcare. Whilst both the long aching nature of chronicity and the incisive shocking impact of acuity produce devastation and suffering it seems that the acute demands greater focus because there is an enticingly ‘fixable’ element and the possibility of short lived emotional engagement with the situation. This is binary to the complex nature of the alternate long term issues. The notion of paying forward is a deeply humanistic response that influences an understanding of ‘community’. Thanks again.


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