It’s not all doom and gloom – here we revisit some of the most uplifting stories and positive news to come out of 2020, to shine a light on the kindness, compassion, and empathy that have truly been the highlights of our year
1. More women than ever are directing films…
A report in January revealed, with twice as many directors of 2019’s top grossing films being female compared with 2018!
2. Magic melodies
The right tune can make a big difference, with a study revealing that songs with a slow tempo, simple melody, and no lyrics, help you relax – and work in 13 minutes. Plus, if you’re feeling low, 13 minutes of music with lyrics that you can connect with may reduce overwhelm. I guess 13 might be a lucky number after all.
3. In March, after 240 days, New South Wales, Australia, was finally free of bushfires.
4. Ramping up accessibility
A disabled grandmother from Hanau, Germany, is paving the way in spreading awareness of the importance of accessibility. Having used a wheelchair for more than 20 years, Rita Ebel was frustrated with the difficulty of getting around town, and was inspired by another wheelchair user’s plans for a LEGO ramp. Using donated bricks sent from all over Germany, Rita builds and places the ramps around her home town as a useful tool for others with disabilities, visual impairments, and prams, and to draw attention to the obstacles wheelchair users face in their daily lives.
5. Chelsea Women’s FC donated their £100,000 prize money…
For winning the league this year to the charity Refuge, which is the UK’s largest provider of domestic abuse services.
6. After 13 years of playing it cool, two giant pandas at the Ocean Park Zoo in Hong Kong have finally made a move…
And conservationists couldn’t be happier. It seems that perhaps all the pair needed was a bit of privacy in order to mate, as the zoo closed to the public in January due to the pandemic. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the patter of tiny paws soon…
7. A great read
Nearly 4 million books were sold the first week that shops reopened from lockdown in England. These sales had a value of nearly £33 million, and was a 31% increase in volume and value compared to the same week in 2019!
8. To lift spirits during lockdown, furniture store IKEA decided to…
Publish the recipe for its iconic meatballs so that frustrated fans could make them at home.
9. In May, Moonpig launched a campaign for Mental Health Awareness Week…
Encouraging people to see ‘the hidden message’, and to feel comfortable opening up. It gave out 25,000 free postcards as part of its mission to prompt people to reach out.
10. Wood you be-leaf it
Many of us found a new love of nature this year, as demonstrated by the record visits a tree mapping site received during lockdown. TreeTalk, which features the location and species of more than 700,000 trees in London, had a fiftyfold increase in visitors, with the site creating walks specific to users’ locations, and revealing information about the trees you pass along your way – along with how rare they are. The natural world awaits!
11. Hamilfans around the world rejoiced…
As the movie of Hamilton was released 15 months ahead of schedule – thank goodness, because I was not willing to ‘wait for it’.
12. A mother-son team from India have gone viral…
With their Instagram account that shares wholesome and heartwarming motherly advice. Poonam and her son Pranav set up the ‘Mother With Sign’ account in January, sharing photos of Poonam holding signs with relatable and funny words of wisdom – and have now got more than 150,000 followers. One of our favourites is: “Even marathons are run one step at a time.”
13. When you’re smiling
With facemasks now a part of our daily lives, a Japanese store has found a novel way to ensure employees remain approachable. Staff members’ masks now have human smiles printed on them to display an endearing and friendly demeanour.
14. For the first time ever…
Renewable electricity exceeded fossil fuel generation during the first half of 2020! Fossil fuel use fell by 18%, and renewable energy increased by 11%, too.
15. The city of Arnhem, in the Netherlands, is leading the way in…
Combating climate change, after unveiling 10-year plans to replace 10% of asphalt with grass and greenery. This move will help to absorb up to 90% of rainwater through the soil – addressing the frequent floods seen in recent years – as well as providing cooler areas with the additional foliage to assist with the increasing heat.
16. After a two-month delay due to the pandemic…
The world’s largest rooftop farm opened in Paris in July! Sitting atop a six-storey building, the plot covers 14,000 square metres and is expected to produce around 1,000kg of fruit and vegetables every day.
17. Beavering away (and back again)
Since being hunted to extinction 400 years ago, beavers miraculously appeared in Devon in 2013. After a study revealed their positive impact on the environment, the beavers have now been given the ‘right to stay’ – hot dam!
18. Baby boom
An amazing seven mountain gorilla babies have been born in a Ugandan national park so far this year – more than twice as many as in 2019 in total!
19. Lockdown quizmaster Jay Flynn…
Was made an MBE after raising £750,000 for charity through his virtual pub quizzes. From being homeless in 2007, Jay now also finds himself a Guinness World Record holder for ‘most viewers of an online quiz’. Win, win!
20. Lend me some sugar
One positive to come from the pandemic is seeing the growing connections in communities, as a study of 2,000 people by ‘Remember a Charity’ found that more than 50% have grown closer to their neighbours. It also revealed that just more than half of people believe that they are more appreciative of their local communities and charities due to Covid-19, and 47% are consciously choosing to value the smaller things in life.
21. In September, LEGO announced plans to phase out its…
Single-use plastic bags used for loose bricks, and instead switch to recyclable, sustainably-sourced paper bags. The move is part of the toymaker’s mission to make all packaging sustainable by 2025 – with a £310 million global investment in the plans.
22. Undoubtedly the national treasure of 2020…
Captain Sir Tom Moore, 100, launched a podcast in partnership with Cadbury and charity Age UK’s ‘Donate Your Words’ campaign, which looks to tackle loneliness in elderly people. The podcast encourages youngsters to start conversations with older generations, by sharing fascinating life stories and unmissable anecdotes, including one 79-year-old’s kiss with Elvis Presley!
23. All you need is love
A heartwarming video recently went viral, which captured the moment a couple, married for 60 years, were reunited after 215 days apart due to Covid-19 restrictions! Joseph and Eve Loreth were staying at an assisted living home in Florida, when Joseph had to undergo rehabilitation at another location. The joy of seeing these true loves finally being together again after such a stressful time is an incredibly moving moment.
24. A real-life superhero
A disabled 14-year-old girl from Columbia, Missouri, has inspired millions of people by proudly demonstrating her incredible invention on a TEDx stage – and as she sees it, the creation gives her superhero abilities. Following a STEM workshop, Jordan Reeves, whose left arm stopped developing from her elbow, created a prosthetic arm using a 3D-printer that shoots glitter! Jordan hopes that her ‘Project Unicorn’ design can encourage other youngsters with disabilities to see the possibilities in them, rather than as hindrances.
25. In Edinburgh, Scotland, a small village of 11 houses has…
Been built on vacant land, with full-time support staff, to create a safe community for the homeless, and to help rehabilitate people.
26. Going green
In February, Dublin became the first capital city in the world to have a zero-emissions postal service! With plans to roll out the scheme across all cities in Ireland by the end of the year, that’s what you call delivering positive action.
27. Ever get a song stuck in your head, but can’t quite place it?
Google has launched a new hum-to-search feature allowing you to whistle, sing or hum to discover the song.
28. There’s been positive news for conservationists…
As critically endangered blue whales have been spotted in ‘unprecedented numbers’ around Antarctica.
29. Bin there, done that
The joke about your rubbish bin going out more than you do is one anyone who lived through lockdown can relate to. And on realising this unfortunate situation, a group of friends from Queensland, Australia, came up with the ‘Bin Isolation Outing’ Facebook group, to celebrate the rare chance to leave the house by getting dressed to the nines to take out their trash. The idea quickly took off, with more than one million people all over the world getting involved and having a good laugh through a tough time.
30. A school in Sydney, Australia, is breaking gender stereotypes…
And teaching essential life skills, with lessons in hands-on car maintenance for Year 11 girls, including how to change a tyre, and what to do in a crash. The aim is to promote independence, strength, and resourcefulness.
31. The comeback of the year in 2020 has certainly been…
That of the ‘drive-in’. From concerts to movies, we’ve embraced some socially distanced outdoor fun.
32. Luxembourg has set out plans to make public transport free…
To it’s 110,000 inhabitants and additional 400,000 commuters, in order to reduce chronic traffic congestion.
33. Vienna launched an initiative to encourage…
Car-free travel by providing cultural ‘reward tokens’ for those venturing out by foot, bicycle or public transport. A smartphone app calculates the amount of CO2 users save by not using their car, and once they reach 20kg, they receive a token, which can be exchanged for tickets to venues such as the Vienna Museum.
34. Turtle-ly good news
A record number of endangered baby Olive Ridley sea turtles hatched in Mexico this year – around 2,250 compared with just 500 to 1,000 usually.
35. I’m dreaming of a…
A couple from Dorset tied the knot in November, joining surnames to become Mr and Mrs White-Christmas. After their July wedding was postponed due to the pandemic, the childhood sweethearts finally wed in Bath. All we can say is may their days be merry and bright.