Dear Sam,


Do you remember that the seed of the idea for this blog was sown one lunchtime last year, during a visit to Bath?  You are one of my closest friends and you’ve been willing to listen to me thinking aloud since we met during our interviews at Oxford.  I’m at a stage in life with my family launched in the world and  I’m thinking about ‘what next?’  Over that lunch I made a throwaway remark about collaborating somehow. We talked about it again during a post-dinner stroll through the Cathedral Close in Wells and I couldn’t have been more pleased when you suggested we look at what we could do together.

Given that we now live on opposite sides of the Atlantic and we can’t just meet for coffee, however much we’d like to, an online venture seemed like the place to start.  When we chatted over Skype, we both realised we wanted to do something to spread some good news and kindness – the background to our conversation was the Election in the US and Brexit in the UK.  We both wanted to share news about ways in which people are helping each other, giving something back, enriching their own lives and those of the people they support, strengthening communities and the world around us.

So, here is our blog – Staircase 9 17 (from the staircases we lived on at Pembroke College, where we met).  Twice a month we’ll write about good ideas, options for volunteering, participating and for gaining yourself by giving to others.  For people like me who are contemplating their next move, it will offer suggestions for engaging, learning and moving forward.  It’s in letter form in recollection of all the times we wrote to each other while we were students. If any of this helps to make 2017 a better, more caring and kinder year then that can’t be a bad thing.

Much love,


p.s.  The song I’m listening to as I write  – ‘I wish I knew how it would feel to be free’ by Nina Simone.