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Independent on Sunday's Happy List 2014 (NOT the Rich List): Robert Williams, kindness giver


Last Christmas thousands of sick, orphaned and disadvantaged children in London woke to find an unexpected surprise waiting for them: a present donated to them by a stranger through the work of the Kindness Offensive.

The organisation, founded in 2008 by Robert Williams with three of his friends, had mobilised volunteers to donate, wrap and then deliver 38 tonnes of toys across the capital.

Recipients included children in hospitals across London, while the children of prisoners were also supplied with gifts so they could give their parent a present at visiting time.

It was just one of the latest initiatives undertaken by the group as part of its commitment to undertake "random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty".

So far, these acts have included: going round festivals giving out pineapple drinks to revellers; giving spare change to people instead of asking for it, like most charities; cooking free pancakes on Shrove Tuesday; and handing out chocolate bars to random people on streets of London.


They describe themselves not as a charity, but rather "a group of friends and like-minded people" who set out "to see what they, as ordinary people, could do to make the world a better place."

Robert received more nominations than any other individual for this year's Happy List. One of those nominators said that Robert has "a real and significant effect" on Londoners' happiness.

As well as its giveaways, the charity had also staged a number of pop-up events. In one, The Everyday Kindness Awards, actors in public places pretended to need help. When members of the public stepped forward to give a hand they were presented with champagne, flowers and a gold medal to thank them for their kindness.

The full list of people who make life better for others
Tom Dowling, community journalist
Nikandre Kopcke, social entrepreneur
Carmel Allen and Josephine Drew, charity founders
Dolly Saville, legendary barmaid
Martin Griffiths, surgeon/lecturer
Jean Bishop, buzzing fundraiser
Aneeta Prem, anti-slavery campaigner
Finally ... 10 household names who went the extra mile