Monday, 20 October 2014


Fig 1. An actual miracle

All the time I am awake, I think about writing code, if I'm not thinking about it, I'm either driving, or doing it. I don't need very much at all to be happy, to be productive.

I am productive, I purposely involve myself in things where I know I can be useful. I do that at work, I do that for PHP. I do that so that every morning, I have some code to think about.

Not very long ago, I was presented with a horrible, horrible problem. I ended up with my 2 kids and partner in a 20 foot long caravan on some friends land, totally broke, totally stuck.

I woke up nearly every day, I tried to be involved, I tried to do my work, slowly, my ability to concentrate slipped away from me. I was overwhelmed with dread, paralyzed by the thought that I failed. My health, my perspective deteriorated, very quickly.

I really thought I was stuck, I kept letting people down and thought it wouldn't be long before the offer to be involved in the conversation would slip away, with everything else.

It is extremely difficult to ask for help, it's even more difficult when you have nobody to ask.

My dear friend Anthony (@ircmaxell) suggested that I reach out to the community, and ask for help. It took me a week, of abject misery, to accept that this was a good idea. I worked out what I would need to get back on my feet, and after some input from Cal Evans (@CalEvans) on the content for the page, we put up a gofundme campaign.

What happened next, beggars belief. The whole community started to tweet and talk about it, it was a gigantic, much needed hug.

In the first few hours, there was thousands of pounds donated, I watched the email from gofundme and twitter come flooding in as if it was happening to someone else. I read the email from gofundme that said I was getting such a response that I would be getting a digest of emails, rather than an email for each donation, completely in awe of what seemed to be happening.

All of us, my kids, my partner, sat watching the screen. I cried, several times. I struggled to explain to my kids that people they have never met were giving us this money, because they wanted us to have a house.

After 24 hours, the total was over £11000, nearly twice what I had said I needed.

It still didn't really seem real, I was sure that something would go wrong. I got my banking details sorted on the gofundme site, and waited, an agonizing 7 days or thereabouts, while gofundme verified my identify and commenced transfers.

At 2am one morning, the first payment cleared my bank account. £10000 was waiting for me. My partner and I had talked all week about what to do next, we looked all over the country for somewhere we could afford make a fresh start. We had decided, for many reasons, that we wanted to go and live on the Isle of Wight. By half past two that morning, the kids were asleep in the back of the car and we were heading for the coast.

It took another week or so, then we found home:

Fig 2. Home

This morning, I just want to say thank you, for the single greatest thing the PHP community ever done, for anyone. I feel incredibly lucky that someone was me.

To everyone that spared us a thought, to everyone that donated, to my friends who had to put up with my moaning and whining, all of you are amazing.

Thanks :)