A lament for old friends

 

Spring flowers for departed Moonrakers.

Spring flowers for departed Moonrakers.

THESE have been sad times for the Happy Moonraker. First, there was the death of Sir Terry Pratchett. An adopted Moonraker, he was always happy to respond to invitations to get involved with local life. Working and living in a lovely spot in the equally lovely Chalke Valley, he let his fertile imagination run riot, producing book after book for his hordes of fans all over the world.

Among many other community activities, he cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony for the shop at Broad Chalke, he chaired the judging committee for Salisbury Civic Society’s awards one year, and also spoke at the launch of the Society’s book, ‘Salisbury in Detail’.

I take my hat off to him, a keen hat-wearer, for being so open about his Alzheimer’s and for giving a hefty donation towards further research into this heart-breaking condition.

In the same month, an old friend has died after three years of ghastly treatment for cancer. Between bouts of debilitating chemotherapy, she still managed to get the most out of life and continued to put others first, in her own distinctive way. She was an inspirational chemistry teacher who once told me that, years ago, at the age of 39, she had applied to study medicine but was turned away. “Too old,” they said. I like to think that things would be a little different nowadays.

She also told me a lovely story of how, in one of the huge London teaching hospitals, she and her husband were walking nervously along a corridor to go and meet their newly born twin grandsons when she was hailed by a former Salisbury student, complete with white coat and stethoscope. This student was one of many who had gone on to make medicine or science their career.

A mere ten days later, a second old friend has died. Yet another adopted Moonraker, she moved first from South Wiltshire to France and then back to Suffolk to be near her family. A talented artist and much-loved teacher who also inspired her pupils, she was another kind, gentle, person whose legacy has spread far and wide. She too will be hugely missed by her family and many friends and former colleagues.

 

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