A Bristol dad who has spent more than 20 years volunteering his time to different causes, has opened up about why he has been secretly leaving wood carvings inside hospitals and care homes in and around the city this Christmas.
48-year-old Jay McDonald knows all too well what it can be like to lose hope after a four-year battle with stomach cancer in his early 20s. The Whitchurch native said it was while being a patient in the hospital that he knew he wanted to help others and began working alongside a cancer charity for many years.
Despite still suffering from a heart condition caused by the chemotherapy treatment, received more than 20 years ago, he decided to utilise his carpentry skills to create stunning carvings for people in hospital wards and in care homes to find ahead of the festive season. He said: “They’re for people who are at their most anxious and that little message might just change their day – so if it’s meant for them they’ll find it.”
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His random acts of kindness have seen him design motivational messages, lyrics from famous songs and even angels lasered onto scrap wood. The self-proclaimed “lone wolf”, spends up to two hours a day creating artwork out of reclaimed wood palettes and can make around 25 different creations per week. One of his latest works has the caption: “May you always walk with morning star to guide you, the summer sun on your back, and an angel by your side.”
In March this year, the talented ‘chippy’ crossed the Romanian border into Ukraine with three tons of dog food and humanitarian aid in a truck. He said after witnessing the unrest while watching TV that he knew he wanted to help and described what he saw on arrival as “harrowing”. He stayed for one week offloading essentials to shelters for those in need.
If you are lucky, you can find one of Mr McDonald’s creations in a number of locations around Bristol and surrounding areas including in the waiting rooms at the BRI, Southmead Hospital and Hengrove Hospital. He is set to leave Merry Christmas signs inside the BRI this Saturday (December 10). He said: “My random acts of kindness are nothing new – just something I’ve always liked to do because there is always hope.”
You can check out Mr Mcdonald’s work on his Facebook page here.
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