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The curious tale of the ‘black doctor of Paddington’

Dr-John-Alcindor-BLOGA determined doctor who overcame bigotry and prejudice to help others during the First World War has finally won recognition. As Britain celebrates Black History Month, we trace his story.

John Alcindor was a gifted doctor, respected and trusted by his many patients.

Originally from Trinidad, John graduated with a medical degree from Edinburgh University in 1899. He then worked in London hospitals for several years before going into practice on his own.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, he naturally wanted to use his skills to help with the war effort.

But despite his qualifications and experience, he was rejected outright by the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914 because of his ‘colonial origin’.

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Richard Osman helps a barefoot refugee

The 2013 National Television Awards (NTA's)  held at the O2 arena - Press Room  Featuring: Paul O'Grady,Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman Where: London, United Kingdom When: 23 Jan 2013

Richard poses with fellow presenter Alexander Armstrong

When a very tall refugee was left shoeless, the Pointless presenter literally stepped in – with his gallumphing size 14s – to help out.

This is a tall story, but not in the way you’d think.

Last week, a destitute asylum seeker approached our refugee support team in Belfast with an unusual cry for help – he desperately needed some new shoes.

The poor chap had been walking around in a pair of flip-flops since last Spring. And when one of them finally busted altogether, he was left hopping about barefoot in the rain. More

‘I fell out of my wheelchair – but the Red Cross picked me up’

John-and-June-Ralls-and-volunteers-BLOGWhat are the odds? When a pensioner fell from his wheelchair and landed in the road, the first vehicle to pass by just happened to hold a couple of British Red Cross first aiders.

To say John Ralls has been feeling fragile of late would be an understatement.

The 72-year-old has some medical conditions and has also been recovering from a broken hip. So when he was accidentally tipped from his wheelchair, it was a real calamity.

John’s wife, June, was pushing him along their street after a family meal when they hit an uneven paving stone. The pensioner was flung from the chair and landed heavily in the road. More

The GI bride who was swept away

GI-brideAs Valentine’s Day approaches, Sylvia O’Connor describes how being a 1940s Red Cross volunteer led to love – and whisked her off to the other side of the world.

During the hectic days of the Second World War, I left school and got an office job at the Piccadilly Hotel in London’s West End.

The whole area was full of American GIs, and all the office girls used to gather by the window to watch them in the street. It felt like watching a movie.

When I heard the Red Cross were looking for English girls to help out at their social clubs for the Americans, I decided to help. More

Eleven relatives reunited

On the eleventh day of helping, the Red Cross gave to me: eleven relatives reunited

Two refugee girls smilingMany families have spent time together in the last few days, but across the world people have lost contact with their loved ones after conflicts or natural disasters. Can you volunteer to help us put families back in touch? Find out more about being an international family tracing volunteer.

The ‘12 days of helping’ are 12 ideas to help other people and change your world in 2014. Tomorrow: give someone a lift and be a chauffeur with a difference.

Nine children dancing

On the ninth day of helping, the Red Cross gave to me: nine children dancing

Young dancers on stage at the O2 in London

Do you know a young dance fan? Give them a taste of stardom with the Red Cross national dance competition. Dance: Make Your Move is for all young people aged four to18. Anyone can have a go and finalists get to perform at the indigO2 at the O2 in London. All it takes to join in is enthusiasm and a love of dance. Registration for the 2014 competition is open now.

The ‘12 days of helping‘ are 12 ideas to help other people and change your world in 2014. Need a new year’s resolution? Find out tomorrow how you can get fit and raise funds for the Red Cross.