As a curtain-raiser for C Block’s winter of volunteering within the ECCE (Eton College Community Engagement) programme, we were joined by students from The London Academy of Excellence and Lord Hastings of Scarisbrook CBE. Entitled ‘Why Volunteer?’ this engaging and fascinating talk made a strong case for the importance of service in a good life. After all, if Coco the Ape, who died recently, can learn sign language and achieve an IQ of 60, then, as humans, we have no excuse not to do something revolutionary. Lord Hastings cited an article from the Wall Street Journal. The investigation posed the question, “Would people be truly happy if they could enjoy life without cost?” Of course, American Express naturally expected the answer to be “yes” – however the results that came back were astounding. The results showed that the greatest satisfaction in the world came from serving others. “It is possible to make a change,” Lord Hastings reassured us, before showing us an example of how one individual has made a huge difference. This one boy, aged 17, having seen his country be destroyed by deforestation took it upon himself to plant one tree every day until he was 37. Now the natural ecology has returned and wildlife is flourishing. On a more personal level, people right on our doorsteps face poverty every day. 9% of British citizens don’t eat for days on end and even in the US, 14% of citizens live below the poverty line. As Lord Hastings put it, as C Block prepared themselves for a year of serving the community in old people’s homes, primary schools and other charities: “You cannot solve a big problem without solving small problems.” Hector Tyser (MGHM) (Photo by Jasper Sodha (PGW))