Thank you. Two simple words that take a moment to say but can mean so much.
Saying thanks for a favour, a gift, an act of kindness or help is a simple courtesy that involves no effort or cost.
It's also a means of interacting with others, those we come into contact with in everyday life and those we turn to for friendship, advice and support.
Sometimes we take other people for granted and fail to show gratitude to those who deserve it the most.
So today, the Belfast Telegraph wants to acknowledge the people in our lives who have earned our thanks – the parents who looked after us, the friend who offered a shoulder to cry on in times of need, the shop assistant who smiled as they gave you your change, the man who held the door open to let you pass through.
Belfast businesswoman Brenda Shankey, who is launching a new course called Catch Yourself On, designed to create a stress-free modern lifestyle, says 'thank you' is one of the most significant phrases in everyday language.
"I feel it's very important to say thank you, or as I say, to have gratitude and be grateful for everything we have today in our lives," she said.
"It's so easy to say thanks and yet so often they are words that overlooked. As well as being able to say thank you to others, we should learn to say thanks for the people and things that we have in our lives.
"My philosophy is to be 100% happy in the moment, right here right now. Be thankful for wherever you are because it's part of your journey. If you're feeling bad, be thankful and look for the lesson you need to learn from the pain.
"If you are happy, be thankful, because then you are aware of everything that is beautiful around you.
"And never forget to say thank you. They're two simple words."
My donor son gave me new life, he’s a hero
Philip Prosser (67), a semi- retired organ builder from Dunmurry, wants to thank his son Stephen for the gift of a kidney to keep him alive:
“My kidney function had been deteriorating for around five years when I was referred to a consultant in the City Hospital.
“I was put on medication which helped for a few years, then the function dropped quite dramatically. I stayed on the medication while the medical staff kept a close eye on me.
“Last year I was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and my kidney function was down to just 6%.
“I felt pretty awful and very tired.
“The medication brought me up to a reasonable level but it was then suggested I'd need dialysis or a transplant.
“I didn't want to go on dialysis because of the impact it would have on my life. I was still trying to work at the time but felt lethargic all the time.
“The tablets brought my kidney function up to 10 or 12% but I was then advised to have a transplant.
“My son Stephen, who is 44-years-old, offered straight away to undergo tests and if it was okay, he said he would give me his kidney.
He added: “My wife Valerie went for tests too but Stephen was a better match. We waited for a slot for the transplant to take place and then got a phone call to say there had been a cancellation.
“Within 10 days we were both in hospital, undergoing rigorous tests. I stayed on in hospital after surgery for another 10 days but Stephen was up and about on his laptop the next day.
“Since the transplant I've felt absolutely terrific. I'm not tired at all. I walk the dog twice a day and can enjoy my gardening again.
“I feel like a new person and it's all down to Stephen, though the NHS staff were brilliant as well.
“But Stephen has transformed my life so much and I want to say thank you for that.
“I don't want to embarrass him, but he really is my hero.”
Homecare staff offer friendship as well as care
A missionary nun from Co Down who dedicated her life to nursing and caring for others is thankful to the staff of a homecare business for the care they provide to her.
Now an extremely frail 92-year-old who lives at the Missionary Sisters of The Assumption Convent in Ballynahinch, Sister Leonita Smyth requires morning and evening visits seven days a week from homecare staff to help with her personal care.
Speaking on behalf of Sister Leonita, Sister Maureen thanked the Downpatrick-based homecare and nursing agency who have cared for her for over three years.
“Without Trackars, we would not be able to provide the level care that Sister Leonita needs and they go well beyond that in supporting what we can also do for her.
“Just the other day Trackars owner Patricia Casement asked Sister Leonita if the staff were looking after her well, and she answered ‘oh, its not just the caring, it’s the friendship that comes with it.”
Originally from the Ballykinlar area of Co Down, Sister Smyth became a nun in the early 1960s. She trained as a nurse in England and had worked in Belfast Mater Hospital for some years before becoming a missionary nun. She started off her missionary vocation during the Biafran Civil War and nursed in South Africa, Nigeria, Malawi, and Zambia before returning back in the 1990s.
Terry Mageean, Trackars homecare co-ordinator added: “Both Trackars office staff and carers are honoured to provide care services to Sister Leontia.
“She is a pleasure to look after. The kind hospitality and support we receive from the Sisters in the convent makes our jobs so much easier.”