I'm really lucky. A lot of you take the time to write to me and I do my best to reply. I get horror stories, tall stories and stories that just need to be told. Here' one. From a reader who is a Mum. Here it is in her words; just as I received it.
"Fantastic, excellent blog on the opening ceremony But there was a less obvious story about another great British institution on the same night: the micro-end of the voluntary sector.
As the NHS nurses and dancers were waiting in the tunnel to go on, a small choir of kids dressed in pyjamas, 8 year olds to teenagers, deaf and hearing, launched into the National Anthem. The Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children belted out two verses, signing furiously, diminutive figures in a vast stadium. The crowd roared, the flag rose and then the choir was gone.
Nine months ago they were nearly gone for good. My two children came home in floods of tears: the two indomitable women who run their after school choir said the money had run out. After nearly two decades, this time they really were on the ropes. No more specially written songs, no more concerts, an end to the energy that never fails to captivate an audience. Children, parents and supporters responded. Pool lengths were sponsored and swum, cupcakes baked and sold, pennies scraped together. A donation here, a small grant there, the choir staggered on.
And then a phone call from the blue, for the greatest show on earth. No funding, but buses to Stratford, and sandwiches for the volunteers. More donations trickled in, just enough to meet the humdrum costs of a charity: ink cartridges for printing letters to parents, taxis to take the exhausted, learning disabled kids with no cars home at 1am after rehearsals, money for the phone bills.
And so, improbably, four months later, 80 children appeared in their pyjamas under the gaze of The Queen, assorted heads of state, politicians and other dignitaries. Preceded by James Bond, followed by Mr Bean, global brands of the entertainment world. Did any of them really understand how precarious life is for small, voluntary organisations? And yet there are thousands of them across the UK, run by equally indomitable men and women, running services for children, disabled people, older people, everyone. Survival depends on sheer determination and luck. Growing these organisations is hard: access to big grants needs a fundraiser; to get a fundraiser you need funds. It's hard at the best of times, but a recession really doesn't help.
This was an amazing experience for the choir. The kids were wide- eyed: meeting Danny Boyle, the sound of 80,000 people cheering, the sight of thousands of volunteers streaming home, elated. Memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
For sure, it was the volunteers that made the ceremony so special, and, for a moment, obscured the inescapably corporate nature of this event. "This is for everyone", it said in giant lights across the stadium. Well, let's hope it really is: it still looks like a very uncertain future for small, underfunded charities across our green and pleasant land."
You can find out more about the choir here.