Greenwich all set to become London’s first organ donor borough – if councillors agree

MERCURY MAN used to be a fixture of the local newspaper of the same name, but hasn’t been seen for at least 15 years. One of the targets set during 853‘s recent fundraising drive was his return to Greenwich borough’s local media. Thanks to your support, we achieved that target. We’ve prized him out of the bookies on Lee High Road, so 853 is very proud to present… the return of Mercury Man. Feel free to leave comments below. And he’s got an exclusive story too…

Mercury Man logoI’ve heard of sabbaticals, but this is ridiculous.

It must be… how long? And how are you all? Me? Thanks for asking. Never been better!

You can tell from the pic I’ve hardly changed at all, although I’ve had to campaign behind the scenes, for one reason or another – wink, wink – but I’m still battling away on the side of the angels.

Some of you probably saw me shyly signing autographs on that wonderful march to save Lewisham A&E. Great day, great result, but no complacency! Mercury Boy One was born there (he took his time and I was able to pop over the road for a desperate Dhansak at the Himalaya) and they’ll cut it over my organ-donored dead body!

Just to catch up: I’ve tended to swap Deptford High Street for the neon lights of Lee these days. You’ve probably seen me skulking around Lee Green, handing a hot coffee or a cool milkshake to Haji, the Big Issue seller outside Sainsbury’s (I rarely go inside; it’s Lidl in Lee High Road for me and Mrs MM).

Mercury Man columns, 1997
Back in 1997, Mercury Man was a fixture of Greenwich and Lewisham’s leading local paper. Now he’s joined 853

And talking of organ doning, what do you make of Greenwich Council’s brave new proposal to become London’s leading organ donor borough? You haven’t heard? Of course you haven’t heard! That’s why you turn to MM!

There’s a town in Cumbria called Kendal (yes, with one ‘l’) that’s declared itself an Organ Donor Borough – the first in the country – and that’s where the inspiration came for the RB of G.

As we speak there’s a motion going the rounds to go before the next full council meeting on 18 October and I’ve heard that council leader Denise Hyland has given it the high five.

Now that’s proper leadership for you, understated yet decisive.

Her four years are up next May but I can’t see anyone to take her place. As usual, I’ll be opening a book around March-time with all profits going to The Artful Pelican (more about that next time). Anyone who wants four-to-five the Hyland can have it up to 31 October. Get me on 853.

Give or take a prodigal son or two, there’s the best part of 75,000 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register in Greenwich. 15 people in the borough had their lives saved last year by an organ transplant, and there are 17 residents awaiting transplants.

Their chances will be improved by a concerted council campaign jointly with NHS Blood and Transplant, who have their own London-wide campaign planned for January. So Greenwich is right up there in the vanguard. I’ll do my bit myself if asked (Er, you won’t be – Ed) but first of all, let’s see every hand go up at the council meeting on 18 October.

A vital factor in the campaign is for every friend and family member to be aware of the would-be donor’s wishes. I was a little perturbed to see the missus sprinting to the post office with an armful of postcards the other morning, but that’s Mrs MM for you.

Organ donor cards
Greenwich borough will hopefully be seeing a lot more of these soon

But – pause for a moment – isn’t this the kind of politics we all want to see? Politics of the heart? Hopefully the Tory group in Greenwich will be right behind the initiative, so why not have a joint campaigns group across the floor to celebrate what brings us together instead of constantly confirming what keeps us apart?

On average, according to Twitter, three people die every day for want of an organ. And how come Spain leads the way in organ donations? They teach us how to play football and now they’re teaching us how to live! Wales have moved that way and Scotland are not far behind, so… come the day when 95 per cent of us present our organs when bugled to Jesus.

Locally, by the way, I’ll be having a word with the likeliest new mayor of Lewisham – Cllr Damien Egan – to follow suit in my own borough. I’ll make sure Egan gives a Damien.

  • A very belated thank you to all those who put me forward for MM MBE for the public clocks campaign in 1999 that, amongst others, got the four public hall clocks working (to this day) in Greenwich town centre.

    Mercury Man logoThe campaign drove the then mayor, John Fahy, to distraction. But fair play to the old bruiser. He got it sorted in a sweat before the new millennium and prevented the Home Of Time being fatally embarrassed by its biggest clock being crocked.

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