Random Acts Of Kindness

This year for National Random Acts of Kindness day I carved a house number as a surprise gift for a complete stranger! 

Guerrilla Carving

Years ago, when living in London with a fellow carver, we used to have entertaining conversations over a bottle of wine about ‘guerrilla’ carving. We always thought it would be fun to carve something in a Banksy type way, grafitti, but beautifully executed! Neither of us ever had the time or bottle to follow through with the idea. It issomething that has been kicking around in the back of my mind ever since!

I thought it would be a fun idea to carve a house number and give it as an anonymous gift, a random act of kindness.

A Sense of Community

I love the new sense of community, which developed throughout Covid. Due to this I really wanted to make something as a gift to one of my neighbours. Noticing that National Random Acts of Kindness day was coming up in February I felt this was the perfect time to put my idea into practice.

Sunset looking down Zoë's street in Aberdeen

A lovely sunset looking down my street in Aberdeen

Choosing the House

I considered gifting a house number to a friend. However, for it to be a true random act, I felt it should be for someone I don’t know. My plan was to choose a house in the neighbourhood and carve a number for them.

Choosing the house was far more difficult than I had imagined! I didn’t really have any criteria, but found myself being really judgmental about the curb appeal of people’s houses! Things like tidiness of front gardens and the existing numbers were suddenly important. Did I want my carving to go on a house in poor repair with a messy garden, or a really smart place which looked really polished?! Did it matter?! Would the recipients be equally  grateful?

I then started way over thinking the process and got really nervous about doing it at all!

Number 110

I benched the idea for a little while and thought maybe I wouldn’t do it at all. Doing this took the pressure off and whilst on a walk round the block, I saw a nice little terraced house with no number. Perfect! It felt like a very appropriate choice, as it had nothing to do with me making a judgment about the house. There was a clear need for a house number so I would be gifting a solution, which felt much more comfortable.

110 would not have been my first choice of numbers to carve, but it was so difficult to choose the house I quickly got over that! I already had a suitable piece of Welsh slate in my workshop so the next step was to sit down and draw the numbers.

Once I had drawn them on paper I carefully positioned the numbers on the stone with a nice even boarder around. I then used carbon paper to trace down onto the slate, ready for carving.

House numbers don’t take very long to carve. There is however a lot of time spent preparing the stone and finishing it afterwards. I found it really satisfying to take a design from concept to completion in just over a day. This number was a really nice little break from the complex geometry carving I was doing. 

This is the marking down process

Wrapping it up

I documented the whole process on Instagram. People made such kind comments, I was really bowled over by their responses to my random act of kindness.

When finished I carefully wrapped the piece up and wrote a little note explaining what the gift was and who I was. National Random Acts of Kindness day came this year on Tuesday 17th February. I waited to deliver it on that day as it felt like it made the most sense.

I was incredibly nervous! Throughout lockdown I had hardy done anything which was outside my comfort zone, and to be honest I had completely forgotten what adrenaline feels like!

I couldn’t decide if to knock and run, just deliver it and not knock at all or whether to ring the bell and explain the situation myself. Putting myself in the recipients’ shoes for a moment, I felt like the nicest thing to do was introduce myself and hand it over. (In a Covid secure manner of course!) This was certainly the most nerve-wracking option!!

Oh god! Would they like it? Would they be in? What if they were renting and weren’t that fussed? What if they didn’t like it or didn’t want it? It was a very long 5 minute walk to the house!

Brown paper parcel with a note to the recipient on the outside

The house number all wrapped up and read for delivery!

Knocking on the door!

I arrived at the house all too quickly and found myself ringing the bell. No answer. What should I do now? I waited and knocked, and heard footsteps coming inside. To my huge relief a very nice lady answered the door. I explained what I had done and she seemed really pleased, if a little confused!

I walked home feeling really pleased I had gone through with it and even more pleased I’d plucked up the courage to knock on the door.

The lady turned out to be called Pat. She found my facebook post and commented saying how delighted she was. Her next door neighbour commented too and turned out to be equally delighted! Suddenly I felt all the worry ebb away and I was really delighted to have made the effort to spread a little kindness!


Front door step with package sitting on it

The package sitting on the front doorstep whilst I’m nervously waiting for someone to answer! 

Since then

Since giving the number to Pat she has kindly emailed me couple of times. She very generously decided to pay the kindness forward, making donations to three charities. I have to say that reading that really did make me quite emotional. It was so nice of her to do something else kind and I really got a sense that kindness is infectious. She has since had it fitted to the outside of her house and it looks lovely against the Aberdeen Granite.

Other really nice things have happened too! Not only have there been lovely comments on social media, but I think I’ve inspired a few other makers too. A couple of weeks ago I also received a random act of kindness myself! My friends mother-in-law who follows me on Instagram sent me a surprise box of brownies! I can honestly say that being a recipient is nearly as fantastic a feeling as being the giver!

Brownies in a cardboard box

A random act of kindness in return! Gower Cottage brownies are very delicious, find out for yourself by clicking here!

If you’ve ever considered doing something like this, I’d whole heartedly say to give it a go. I feel that kindness from a complete stranger is such a wonderful thing, I can be really small like letting someone go in front of you in a queue, or asking someone if they need some help, or much bigger! I do now really try on a daily basis to be a bit kinder, Its such a lovey feeling to positively impact other peoples lives!

Watch the full video below

This is the full video of my random act of kindness!

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