#Poodate’s lasting legacy – in Bristol and beyond
Liam’s first date descended into farce and a media frenzy as the girl he’d invited back to his place ended up wedged inside his bathroom window trying to retrieve her poo. Long story.
The now infamous evening – dubbed #Poodate – may go down in the (ahem) annals of history as the world’s worst date. But for a couple of villages in Malawi, #Poodate has made the world of difference…
Liam Smyth set up a crowdfunding appeal to help him replace the window which fire fighters had to break to free his date, and said he’d donate any excess funding to charity: The Fire Fighters Charity and Toilet Twinning.
As his story went global, he received donations from around the world. His window repairers donated their services for free – which meant Liam was able to donate £1,253 to The Fire Fighters Charity and the same to Toilet Twinning. This meant he could ‘twin’ 20 toilets in Rumphi district, northern Malawi.
‘It was a crazy thing to happen, but it’s amazing to have had such an impact in the developing world as a result,’ says Liam, 25, who was completing a Master’s Degree at Bristol Uni at the time. ‘I was expecting to raise a few hundred quid for the window, and maybe get an interview on the local radio. I was never expecting this to go as far as it did!’
Toilet Twinning has helped fund a project in Rumphi, where Liam’s toilet twins are located, which has helped local people build proper toilets and learn about hygiene and handwashing.
Village leader Spencer Khunga (pictured) told Toilet Twinning that, previously, local people often suffered diarrhoea and disease. ‘There’s a big change,’ he said. ‘People used to have to go to the hospital a lot but now they are working for the improvement of our community. Every so often, I go round checking people are washing their hands with soap. Now we have a good life.’
Liam, meanwhile, is currently on a short-term contract working in PR and is considering his longer-term options, after completing his sociology studies. ‘A lot of people thought [#Poodate] was part of my sociology course, some sort of social experiment, but I couldn’t have made it up. If I had, I’d be working as a comedy writer now.’
As for his date… ‘We didn’t end up dating, but we’re still good friends!’ says Liam.
Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley says: ‘Liam’s date was obviously a difficult experience for both of them, but his decision to mention us in his crowdfunder was a PR gift for us as the story went viral. It raised our profile across the world and enabled 20 households in Malawi to have a life-changing loo, so we are extremely grateful to him.’
Toilet Twinning raises funds to help fund proper toilets, clean water and hygiene education in some of the poorest communities in the world. In return for a £60 donation, you can twin your toilet with a latrine overseas and help sponsor a new loo. www.toilettwinning.org