“Since the day that I walked in to Polly’s Reading for Well-Being session, my life has changed”

Eugene Egan, member of the Park Road Reading for Well-Being group, nominated Polly Wright – founder of The Hearth Centre – for a Depression Alliance Award in recognition of the life changing positive effects Reading for Well-Being has had for him. 

“..never could I have imagined that one day there would be a time when I would be on Radio WM, performing at The Rep or The MAC in Birmingham.”

Eugene’s nomination tells his story of how in his first Reading for Well-Being session he was handed IF by Rudyard Kipling. The poem had such a powerful positive effect on his life that he has since read the poem at public engagements himself to illustrate the power of literature in overcoming adversity and challenging mental health stigma. 

Below is a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s IF and a poem that Eugene wrote for Polly to say thank you for the impact Reading for Well-Being has had upon his life, which is now being put into an anthology. 

IF – Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

MY VOICE – Eugene Egan

As I swam the choppy waters of my life

My voice lost in adversity

Whilst swimming against the tide

Despite the wind and the taste of salt

Washing my mouth and wounds

I kept afloat and came ashore


When drowning in a sea of despair

She gave me back my life

When all is said and done

She heard my voice

And helped me write again