I have promised several times already (in my own vague way) to write some more about why I’m doing this and, more importantly, why I’m doing it for the Sobell House Hospice Charity.
I once heard Midge Ure talking about Live Aid. He was being lauded by the interviewer for having had such a wonderful idea and for having gained so much power to change the world. Midge was shaking his head - “The power is in the idea, not in me, and the idea could have been anyone’s.”
Live Aid is perhaps rather grand company to be holding the Ultimate Olympian up to just yet, but there is certainly power in the idea – people are interested in what I’m doing, and not all of them just because they hope to see some footage of me hurting myself at some point.
The idea popped into my head in a very weak way when my wife and I were watching the Olympic final of the women’s pole vault on TV. Such questions as “How would you find out you were good at that?” and “How on earth would you go about learning to do it?” were left hanging, answerless in the air. Then my wife said, “I could be the best pole vaulter in the world, and I just don’t know it because I’ve never tried it!”
That week, I found a list of all the events and the idea became more concrete – as did the notion that it could be used to raise some money.
Sir Michael Sobell House provides care for people in Oxfordshire with life-limiting illnesses. It also provides support for their families. At any one time, they are helping hundreds of patients to live as constructively and creatively as possible in the time that they have left to live. The service is completely free to those in the community who may need it, regardless of their beliefs, race or age.
My wife’s father, Terry Beardall (above), spent the last three weeks of his life there in August 2002. The care he received before he died and the support given to his family (and recently arrived boyfriends) at what is always rather weakly described as “a difficult time” was wonderful to witness and to receive.
I think Terry would have enjoyed the notion of someone using sport to raise money in his memory. I got to spend far too little time with him, but the time I did get showed me a man who liked to shout at the TV when his national team did something stupid and to organise his day around what time the golf coverage started – two factors involved in being “a man, my son” that I think Kipling gravely overlooked.
His death, which came less than two months after his fiftieth birthday, was a travesty of anyone’s notion of fairness. Nothing could have made it alright, but Sobell House at least made it less horrific for all concerned. He was a fine man, and it is a fine place, and I am proud to be doing what I’m doing in his memory and for Sobell House.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Posted by John McClure at 1:02 pm