Occasionally, through my day job, I am fortunate enough to be a part of some incredibly uplifting experiences.
Last May I witnessed cyclists return to a rapturous reception at Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club after the Memorial Cycle Ride, to mark the 40th anniversary of the air disaster which killed 18 members of the club. I will never forget the emotion as the riders realised what they had achieved.
On Saturday, I attended an event on a much smaller scale, but no less uplifting. I was at St Nicholas Hospice Care to see the unveiling of its memory tree, or ‘Tree of Reflection’ as it is called, which has shimmering metal leaves which will be inscribed with the names of people being remembered in return for a donation.
The tree itself is a work of art – made locally in Stowlangtoft – but what makes it even more special is that it is dedicated to the memory of a remarkable man: Fred Grimsey.
Fred, who was a PE teacher at St Louis Middle School, in Bury, for 21 years, died last June. Listening to his family, friends and colleagues talk on Saturday, I wish he had taught at my school instead.
But what inspired me about the story behind the Tree of Reflection was how one family decided to make a difference. When Fred died, his wife Julie raised money through a sponsored cycle and his daughter Jacqui ran 10km a day for 10 days. They also asked for donations for the hospice, which had supported Fred, and raised an astonishing £10,000. They wanted that sum to pay for a lasting tribute which could have a positive effect for years to come.
And so the seed of the Tree of Reflection was planted. The hospice hopes it could raise thousands, but it also hopes it will provide a place for members of the community to sit, remember, and reflect on others like Fred.
-- Another ‘uplifting’ experience taking place next week (even if only in terms of the height of the hairstyles on stage) is that of the musical Hairspray, at the Theatre Royal, from Tuesday. It’s worth the price of a ticket just to see the biggest beehives in Bury, but you might also spot me singing and dancing in the chorus.