My Working Life
I am a marketing consultant, health policy analyst and a journalist specialising in healthcare reform and its impact on the industry within which I spent some 20 years of my working life. Before that I was a college lecturer for ten years and now run workshops on the changing NHS. I suppose I am what the management guru Charles Handy would call a Portfolio Man. But how did I get to be here? Well life’s a funny thing isn’t it – you blink and you the child is now middle-aged. I still see some of my university friends and some have now retired. We had our children late so I have continued working. And in another blink they have grown up too. And life seems to be going along just dandy. We had two lovely daughters but now we only have one. And in one more blink, life is no longer just fine. Our eldest daughter left our lives on Boxing Day last year. Our b eloved 23–year Charlotte, at the beginning of her journey through adulthood, died on the island of Ko Racha Yai in Thailand when the cataclysmic Tsunami waves struck early on the morning of the 26 th December 2004. Her death has left us with broken lives and broken hearts. But her passing has brought something new to Portfolio man.
I would like to tell you a little of our lost love. Char’s love of adventure and travel started early when at school she climbed Kilimanjaro. She bungi jumped and she and I learnt to scuba dive together. She had such a zest for life and was hungry for the world. She wanted a gap year and w e had to let her go. Charlotte was doing what she loved most when she died. She was beautiful, vivacious, talented, highly intelligent, caring, brave and very special. A bright iridescent white light in our lives has now been extinguished. But we do feel blessed that she was with us, if only for such a brief while. She enriched our lives. She will be forever in our hearts.
As the first anniversary of the terrible disaster approaches, these remain sad days for us. We are still in shock and find life without Char so difficult. But in her memory we will prevail. We want people never to forget her. So w e have created a special place for people to visit and think of Char at peace and to meditate in tranquility at a local Buddhist Monastery. Here we have planted a tree and created a small garden. Char's friends have already built a memorial statue to her on the island where she died.
We also want to 'build' a living tribute to our wonderful daughter. Char sponsored a girl in Rumania whilst at Bristol University and we have decided that it would be fitting to do the same for a young Thai girl and sponsor her education up to 18. So we have created a fund and have been very active of late in raising money for the fund. This has now become another part of my life. I ran one half marathon for the fund earlier this year and am about to run another. These are so special because Char ran these races with me in 2004, her first half marathons. Char’s Fund will be the means by which we will build this lasting ‘living’ memorial to our daughter. The process will begin over Christmas 2005 when we will make a pilgrimage to where she died. Through 2006 we hope to have something in place and when we hope the fund will have reached some £20,000.
Char was also deeply loved by her very many friends from the various parts of her all too short a life. Some local friends recently organised a rock festival in her memory and which raised £1000. And this month, some of Char's University of Bristol friends organised a plaque to be mounted and unveiled on the outside of her last flat. The inscription says, ‘One force of nature overcome by another’.
It is still difficult to try and understand what has happened to us. We miss Char so terribly. But we do know that many millions were affected by this particular catastrophe and would like to give something back to the affected area in Char’s name. We will continue to raise money for the Fund. Portfolio Man will continue to be busy for some time yet to come.