Not all superheroes wear capes…

Search for the hero inside yourself

Who is your favourite superhero? Superman – Xray vision has to be quite handy, right? Or Batman, all dark and brooding and a cool car. Maybe Captain America, he of the nifty shield and the clean-cut wholesome goodness. Black Panther – a king AND a super-hero, come on, that’s awesome. Or Black Widow, because she kicks serious butt, has an amazing sardonic wit and can carry off that leather catsuit (yes, I’m that shallow).

Right now, though, my idea of a superhero isn’t one that takes on aliens and battles through the streets of New York. Today’s superheroes wear white coats, big plastic eye protectors and do daily battle with teeny tiny little molecules using petrie dishes and test tubes as weapons.

This morning we got the news that the UK is the first country to authorise the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use and, as a result, the vaccination programme roll-out could start as early as the new few weeks. Presumably, the requisite authorisation of the Moderna and the Oxford/AstraZeneca versions won’t be far behind. Hurrah. Massive congratulations to everyone involved in all of those developments, from the person who empties the bins in the lab, to the white-coated grafters right up to those who stepped up to fund the research (step forward Dolly Parton, all-round excellent human being) and those scientists and boffins who put their usual silo-management structures aside, shared information and worked together for the greater good. Marvellous stuff.

We’ve had our share of heroes in this industry too. The suppliers who kept the factories going so that merchants could get stock. The merchants who kept going and prioritised key workers and vulnerable people during the lockdowns. The merchants who took the decision to furlough those members of staff who were vulnerable or who had close family members who were, meaning those employees didn’t have to risk coming into to work and getting ill. The merchants and their customers who rallied round for charitable causes – MP Moran’s Bart and Marissa Murphy, for example, stepped up early on with raising money and donations for PPE for their local hospitals – there were plenty of others too, suppliers diversified into making hand sanitiser, masks and even ventilators. The industry buying groups thrive on the participation by their partners and members. So, what happens when those principals need to focus on their own businesses – the central teams step up and ensure that the groups offer the support and back-up that merchants and suppliers need to get through.

If we all do our bit, no matter how big or how small that bit is, we can get somewhere very special indeed. And nothing says that quite like the annual Christmas advert from Hafod Hardware, a little independent retailer in Wales who just, well, gets it.

Do what you can. Give what you can.




About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

Check Also


Brace yourself for green belt battles

‘Til we have built JerusalemIn England’s green and pleasant land The battlelines are being drawn …