The unexpected hero

(noun) [heer-oh] A person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.

If you're in your 30's you'll probably remember Jamie Oliver hitting the scene in a barrage of "pukka's" and "tigers", he was one of the first high profile celebrity TV chefs and looking back on it now, he was a young guy doing some pretty cringeworthy stuff but what he's done since makes him something of a hero to me.

Do you need to look around for a hero or someone to inspire you? Not really, that either happens over time as in the case of my admiration for all that Jamie Oliver does or it happens based on a single act someone performs but ultimately you make an investment in someone when you call them a hero or a role model.

The hero as a role model changes and adapts. To their surroundings, needs of their family or a wider population, the environment or any of range of other criteria but they remain a hero. Their work and actions are inspiring in a range of circumstances.

My hero has gone from a cheeky chappy who provided the token figure of derision in my youth to a world class chef and tireless campaigner both in the UK and USA for better food for school children and has provided some great meals for me and my wife from his range of cookbooks.

The hero adapts, the hero fights the good fight, the hero gets back up when they're knocked down. They don't quit, they grow stronger and fight harder.

For all the things Jamie Oliver says and does, whether it's running a business empire that employs 7,000 people or appearing around the world endorsing his own products or fighting against bad eating habits what I admire most can be distilled down into a single 20 minute talk on TED.

When I was in my 20's I never thought this pukka talking, hawaiian shirt wearing TV chef would ever be a hero to me but I find I can relate to him more than I ever thought possible and that means the world.

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Just so we're all singing from the same hymnsheet, for the purposes of my essay, I'm not putting campaigners like Jamie into the same definition of "hero" as people like firefighters who literally risk their own lives for the safety of others. They're wonderful human beings and if they inspire you, go out do something for someone else as a personal thank you.

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