Remember to try and say ‘yes’ to things and you’ll reap the rewards, says Andy Beeforth from Cumbria Community Foundation.

Andy says: "If an opportunity to do something new or to help someone out comes along, my rule in life is to say ‘yes’. It hasn’t always been this way, and I was reminded of this watching a video clip of Sir Ian McKellen recounting the times he turned down opportunities to see Elvis, Sinatra, and Judy Garland, all for various reasons but mainly because ‘he had other things to do’. As a young man, I turned down the chance to see the famous actor Topol perform in Fiddler on the Roof and regret it to this day (younger readers will need to Google this to understand).

It also sprang to mind because we’re often asked if we can help a person or an organisation for help. It’s always easy to find a reason to say ‘no’, we’re busy, we’ve got a long list of things ‘to do’, and there may even be a cost to ourselves or the organisations we work for. However, in my experience the outcome is invariably a ‘win/win’ with fun and good things happening as a result. One of my all-time favourite groups in Cumbria is the 1st Wetheral Brownies, a crack unit of adventurous young girls, ably led by the most imaginative and inspiring group of leaders you could hope to meet. This year, they have taken on a fundraising challenge at Netherby Hall, which includes a King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table theme, raising funds for the Winter Warmth Appeal.

Their stay at Netherby Hall was only made possible because the owners said ‘yes’ and many of their other adventures including a night at Naworth Castle also depended on the generosity of the owners of iconic buildings. The imaginations of the Brownies can’t help but have been fired by the experience and learnt an early lesson that people are prepared to go out of their way to help them. What a wonderful gift to grow up in a community where this is possible, sharing a positive example that may inspire future acts of generosity.

I’ve also been reflecting on the long list of people named in the New Year’s honours list. Many of these people recognised for excellence or generosity were successful because they also said ‘yes’. Take Wigton-raised netball star Helen Housby, made an MBE for services to netball. There must have been countless times in her early years, travelling huge distances to train when she could have said ‘no’. Sean Balmer, legendary swimming coach at Cockermouth Swimming Club, given a British Empire Medal, has volunteered many thousands of hours of his time, sharing his knowledge and encouraging club members to be the best they can be including world class athletes like Luke Greenwood. Penny Kirby, team leader of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team helping save lives and rescuing the injured and Barrow-based Rebecca Robson, made an MBE for services in support of women experiencing domestic abuse. We should be proud that 14 people in total were honoured this year, all have said ‘yes’ and chosen to do rather than not. We’re fortunate to have them in our midst. Congratulations and well done.

What will you say ‘yes’ to when asked?"