There will always be someone missing at the Mother's Day table - Christa Ackroyd

Tomorrow is Mothering Sunday. I call it that because that is what my own mum always called it, the day centuries ago when traditionally farm workers and servants in big stately homes, women who worked down the mill or slaved away in the factories were given the day off to go back to visit their mother church in the towns and villages of their birth as well as see their families.

Now of course it is a time when mothers are treated like the Queens they are. Today’s column is dedicated to all of them. But a few in particular.

Tonight I will sing and dance and raise a glass to a mother who is no longer with us. Not mine, though she is gone too, but a friend who had three daughters and grandchildren that she lived for. Like most of us do.

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Jill always called herself a Clecky bird. The phrase might seem out of step with today’s politically correct world but a Clecky bird she was, born and raised in Cleckheaton, proud of her roots and proud of her family.

Christa Ackroyd helps out with those taking aid to Ukraine in Halifax.

How she would have loved tonight’s party. How she would have been the life and soul of the celebrations held in her honour. What memories we would have made and fun we would have had.

Only two years ago this week, at the very start of lockdown she died of Covid. She didn’t even make it to hospital. One minute she was larger than life. The next minute she was gone. She was just turned sixty. And none of us got to say goodbye.

All we could do was light a candle in her honour as her coffin was brought into the crematorium accompanied by a handful of immediate family. The place would have been packed. The wake would have been healing. And so we have waited two years to honour her passing. And her zest for life.

I mention Jill because underneath that tough typical Yorkshire exterior was the softest soul. And I miss her.

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Home Office response to Ukraine crisis is woeful and inhumane - Christa Ackroyd

As thousands upon thousands of people who lost their mothers during the pandemic or in care homes and hospitals without the comfort of loved ones by their side at the their time of passing or in the run up to their deaths miss their mums too.

This week my mother would have been 96. It is four years since she died. And four years since I wrote my mother’s day column about her in the first column I wrote in this very newspaper.

She would have grieved for mothers everywhere who did not have someone to hold their hand as they slipped away as she did. So this column is for her too. Because life will never be quite the same again and there will always be someone missing at the Mothering Sunday table.

To many people the pandemic is but a distant memory replaced by enlarge by a feeling of release that it is over. I know it’s not, far from it. But with medical science at least we are no longer separated.

And so I turn to the mothers of Ukraine, whose separation from their loved ones and from their motherland has also been forced upon them. Millions of them. Some have been forced to stay with no escape. Some have chosen to lead their children to safety and return to fight.

As 52 orphans finally arrive in this country, I once again ask the Home Secretary not as a political powerhouse but as a refugee whose family sought asylum here, as a mother herself, to find compassion in her heart and make entry into this country for the mothers and children who wish to come here from Ukraine and the thousands upon thousands who would welcome them into the bosom of their families easier and more humane.

And finally to the mothers who do not know how they will feed their children or keep them warm as bills go up and even the basics seem out of reach. This mother’s day column is for you too. Do not feel abandoned, do reach out and ask for help.

The chancellor Rishi Sunak might have said this week he can’t help everyone but people are inherently kind and know that you are in our thoughts. Don’t be too proud. Don’t be frightened to admit you can’t cope. There are those who want to show you they care, individuals and organisations.

People are basically good. My friend Jill was good, as was my mum, as is 99.9 per cent of the population.

This week at the hub set up in Halifax to send aid out to Ukraine, Alex, a single parent mum of three beavered away setting up a pop up shop which she will open to welcome mothers and their children who come here to choose special gifts to show that people care.

She is working without pay, spending money on bus fares she can ill afford, because she wants to show other mothers who may have lost faith and arrive in a strange country that they will not be made to feel strangers.

Elsewhere another volunteer who is part of the same mission opened a letter sent anonymously to those who give their time and a huge amount of effort to helping those fleeing Ukraine and those who remain.

In it was two thousand pounds, made up of old ten pound notes probably stashed under the mattress for a rainy day by someone who believes that rainy day has come and others need it more. And yes the bank will accept them and yes it will be spent helping those whose motherland is being destroyed.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you are a mother or even if you are a woman. But I know this, for every bad deed there are a hundred that are good. May you remember your mothers tomorrow if they are gone, may you hold them that bit tighter if you are lucky enough to have them still.

Happy Mothering Sunday. Our time is precious on this earth. Let’s not waste a single moment. Because none of us know what is around the corner.

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