After Ian died (in July 2007), it took me quite a while to remember the fun, fit, handsome and healthy Ian of pre BT days – all I could remember was the ill and gradually failing Ian, the despair and the nursing. Not that Ian ever lost his sense of humour and hope throughout all his surgery, treatments and illness. He never talked of death, as nothing in his life had ever beaten him before and he sure as hell wasn’t going to let this lousy hand be his downfall. He was a Marathon runner and endurance athlete and he would never give up on a challenge, no matter how tough or whatever injury he may incur in the process, always maintaining never to have a DNF (did not finish) after his name. He told the surgeon this prior to anesthetic before his de-bulking surgery, to make sure he did a good job!
Ian ran the London Marathon and then a Cornish Half Marathon 2 & 3 weeks before his first tumour symptom – so obviously had the BT then, but was unaware. His love of sport encompassed running, walking, cycling, swimming and canoeing. He walked from John O’Groats to Lands End with our eldest son Tim who, at the age of 10 became the youngest person to do the walk. He cycled the same route in 8½ days – over 100 miles a day. He ran the Cornish Coastal Path, Cycled through France, Spain, the Welsh coast, the Isle of Wight. He was Yorkshire school boy swimming champion, swam for the Royal Navy, boxed for the Royal Navy – undefeated champion, winning all his fights by a knock-out. Played football for the Royal Navy and other local teams. This apart from running dozens of marathons and half marathons.
Though not a big man, Ian was a larger than life character who lit up any room he entered. He had a wonderful sense of fun and getting the utmost out of life, and a great knack of putting people at their ease and making sense and calm out of a crisis.
We ran a Beach Cafe in Cornwall for 20 years until retiring a year before the BT diagnosis. Ian played ‘mine host’ to our locals and customers in the best way ever – always with a smile and a joke or a chat about something. He never forgot a face and always remembered people the following season, much to their amazement. His love and knowledge of the sea and of all nature was immense. He was a bee-keeper and loved his bees. We sold the honey in the Beach Cafe.
We were married for over 35 years, have two wonderful sons who have inherited their father’s love of competitive sport and sense of adventure. Losing their father, mentor and hero was so difficult for them to come to terms with but they also know, as I do, that Ian would not want us to be sad forever and would wish us as soon as possible to get on with our lives in a positive and fulfilling way.
This is what we are now doing and this year has been an amazing one for us all. Tim, elder son – 27, sent an e-mail to all friends in the New Year inviting anyone who was able to join him on a ‘wish-list’ of planned trips, journeys, action-packed weekends from Glastonbury to Tomato festival in Spain, Cornish bike rides and sea-fishing trips to Australia’s East Coast, sky-diving, white-water rafting, Sweden & Denmark, Ibiza & Jersey. He completed all of these things, joined by different friends/his brother along the way.
Oliver, younger -21, travelled to Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, worked two months in Tanzania teaching children, climbed Kilimanjaro and is currently doing 3 months in USA driving from New York to San Francisco.
I spent 8 days with both boys in Australia and then left them and did 6 more weeks travelling to every state except Victoria on my own. The trip is something Ian and I were going to do together and though I did it differently, I felt him with me all the time. It was a turning point for me and gave me so much confidence about tackling life alone. I’m going to Cuba next month to trek across an uninhabited part of the country with 29 Irish people I have never met! It is for an Irish based children’s charity called Children in Crossfire.