My brother Robert was a brilliant person, really generous with his time and enthusiasm for others. It was cruel, when he coped with a mental illness throughout 2006 which unfortunately resulted in him taking his own life early in 2007.
We grew up as a family of six, I was one of four boys. My early memories of Robert were walking to school together in the winter, wrapped up in massive duffle coats that our mother had got for us. I used to say I could recognise him in a blizzard, because of his coat.
Robert was a fairly reserved child, and did very well at school. He was a good cricketer, and played football for his university. He was popular at university, and studied Chemistry before going on to do a PHD before working in industry in Manchester.
I remember coming back in to the UK after an extended period of travel and my mother said she was worried about him. When I saw him at Easter, he was withdrawn and not his normal self. He didn’t take any joy in his sports, or his work and although his friends were really close to him, he wasn’t able to enjoy their company like he normally would.
We as a family were able to get some help for him locally whilst he was staying with us. He spent a bit of time back at his home in Manchester, because at that point he was away from work. The professionals around him, did as good a job as they could but I think the severity of his anxiety and the state of his health were worrying. I went up to visit him, as did my family members and he gave the impression of battling through this,
but in hindsight he wasn’t OK in himself.
I was at home with my mother when we heard the news, and it was devastating.
At the funeral a great many people came, and this gave our family a lot of comfort. It was anguish at the time, though I feel I have adapted and learned to live with this shocking event. I don’t think it is selfish to say that life goes on, but we as family really didn’t have any choice.
We planned a cricket match in 2008, as this was one of his favourite sports. Actually it rained, we couldn’t play and I think he would have laughed at that! In the end, we had a quiz prepared and some food laid on, so everyone that came could relax. I remember his friends sharing some great memories, about his life and their stories made us all smile
which was a good way to remember him.
I also cycled the London to Brighton ride for Mind in 2014. I felt it would be a positive way to remember him. The hardest but the most thrilling part of the ride was going up the Ditching Beacon near Brighton. I had cycled around parts of Dorset in August that year to help, and this prepared me for the challenge. Having trained, and raised money
beforehand, I then rode down in to Brighton satisfied with my efforts, both on and off the bike.
I made my will a few years after his death, and included a gift to Mind well before I started working for them. I can tell you, even if I didn’t work for Mind now, this is the number one charity I would trust to use any gift made wisely, and to impact on as many people’s lives as possible.
Making a will has given me peace of mind, and now I just get on with things because I know I can update it as and when various important events occur, like my marriage in 2015.