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Life Chez Dee Episode #43: Reflections

Another year over, a new one about to begin; a time for reflection …of the year, of the memories of years gone by, of one’s self.

I sit and think about all that this year has brought, all I’ve achieved … and not achieved. The old friends I still have alongside me; friends who have drifted; new friends who have come into my life.

It feels to me as though this has been a significant year … not necessarily in significant event worthy terms; but in a sense of change. A change in people, in personalities, in friendships.

I’ll start with my boys … William took his GCSEs this year … and boy did he do well, never doubted he’d do well, he’s always been smart.

I find it interesting that you can see the person they’ll become when they’re still only small. Wasn’t it Rudyard Kipling who said give me the boy and I’ll show you the man? William has now gone off to college, studying A levels in subjects which I find quite frankly daunting. He’s passed his Grade 8 piano, he’s studying for Grade 8 trumpet, he’s moved up to Lancashire Youth Jazz Orchestra, and he’s now a member of Switched on Swing. I’m so proud of him, even though he does still get it in the neck for all the overkill of gadgets, silly youtube videos, and the usual non tidying of room etc.

Oliver is growing up fast too. Another little brain box; who is interested in so much. Also doing superbly with his music and is now studying for Grade 2 Drums, and Grade 2 Saxophone.

Another year without Edward has again sent me into a few low times this year, but I also look back on how much has been done in Edward’s name, and what a legacy he’s leaving. The hard times I think will always be there … but so too will all those wonderful memories and love that we shared.

The charity has raised awareness, funded research into meningitis and supported so many community projects … tree in Lowther Gardens; garden in Lytham; artwork in St Annes; project for Fylde Scout Headquarters; Trees for Edward raising awareness project. This year I also announced the charity’s support for The Snowdrop Centre, supporting bereaved families after the death of a child. Charity of the year for HM Land Registry Lytham; Clip n Climb Blackpool; LSA High School and AKS Lytham … please, please mention me wherever you can; it really does help us to reach more people, spread the word and raise awareness further.

Our annual events have been bigger this year, and promise to be even bigger again in 2020 … TreesforEdward reached thousands of people this year, raising awareness even further; massive thanks again to all the ladies who work so hard making these trees, to all the local businesses who have supported this and helped to spread the word (Linda at Bonney Fabrics, The Carlton Hotel, Hadfields DIY, Justin Bailey of Bill Plant Driving School). Again TEAM for Edward will be in the Swimarathon in January; and in St Annes Triathlon in May. The First Firecracker Ball was a cracking do, and will go with a bigger bang in 2020 so watch out for tickets for that in the New Year. We cycled our way around Lytham for Club Day, picking up First Prize in our category; and we cycled our way around St Annes too for the Carnival, picking a prize up for that too, second on this occasion; and we also shone our lights brightly #forEdward when we cycled through the illuminations. What on earth will we have in store for 2020 I wonder?

There are those who I count on time after time to help out; so many incredible people to name, but there are a couple in particular who stand out far and above, constantly going above and beyond, and quite honestly I couldn’t have done as much as I have without them … so thank you Dickon Barnaby and Justin Dee for all the hours you give, I am so reliant on and indebted to you both. This year we welcomed so many more people helping out with charity events … our newly formed Ball Committee, who did a fantastic job I must say, who have become good friends, and the committee has grown even bigger ready for the next ball. I do need to form a little group for organising some other events throughout the year too, so if you’d like to help out, join TEAM for Edward and be in our gang, get in touch.

There are those who give without question, without caveats, genuinely wanting to give and support. Cox Motor Group again supported my work, and again so too did Stephen Beverley, Windmill Financial Services. Stephen was the first person who put his faith in me, who genuinely wanted to help and support, and who’s support is immense, as it is with his ongoing support for me personally which enables me to do all that I do for the charity. I say it so often, but again I say, I am so incredibly grateful to you for this. More support came this year from Roger Banks, and Steve Smith who own The Carlton Hotel. Roger came to the Firecracker Ball for Edward, and after hearing about all the work of the charity, also wanted to be involved, and after meeting up with Roger and his business partner Steve, and Steve’s wife Dina, I am delighted that they are also now supporting both me personally, as well as the charity … and I can’t wait for the sun to come out for us all to be buying ice cream from them too, with them donating 50% of sales to The Edward Dee Fund. Hope to see you all there.

I have many ideas up my sleeve for projects and awareness raising next year, including the grand opening of the campfire area at Fylde DHQ, and I’m really excited as to all I’m hoping to achieve in 2020.

This year also saw me saying goodbye to my little car. I feel as though my right arm has gone to be honest as I’ve had this car for more than 20 years, and in all that time it has never failed me. Only twice in all those years has it needed a new battery, and that it is all. It’s paintwork is tired; living by the sea has taken its toll on it; and now the driver’s door has become temperamental and doesn’t always want to open for me, which has seen me sliding over from the passenger side every time I’ve needed to get in, which isn’t at all ideal, and really not good for my back and shoulders.

And so, after speaking to a few car dealerships, I ordered a mini. So many were helpful, especially when I explained the story behind the charity; but the guys in Lloyds Blackpool bent over forwards, backwards and sideways to help out and come up with a deal for me. Part of me feels a little guilty in driving a new car, but given that this is only the second car in more than 20 years, I’m not sure I’m being that frivolous really.

And so as I face the New Year the final reflection is on me. How I’ve changed. I am not the person I was before Edward died. I have changed a lot in the three years since Edward died, not surprising really; finding my footing after this trauma was bound to send me off in another direction; but finding my way through this constant rollercoaster of grief, heartbreak and love is evolving. I’ve changed, the people around me have changed, I am still changing. I know that founding the charity in Edward’s name and doing all the work I do, has not only been a lifeline for me, but has helped so many, and going forward, making a difference to others in such a positive way I know is the right thing to do. Following my heart, listening to my gut, taking notice of what is the right thing to do, and doing just that. None of this has been easy, but I look at what has been done, what I once would have thought impossible, and yet here I am, and I wonder about all that is yet to come. The reality is that I don’t know what is possible, but I do know that it is right to throw myself into this unknown, being honest and true, and letting love carry me forward.

Not surprising then that friendships and relationships have changed too. There are those who don’t understand me, who don’t understand or even approve of what I do, some have drifted from me completely, some haven’t drifted entirely, remaining close enough to offer opinions, knowing how unwanted and hurtful they are, others say nothing, disinterested or disapproving of my actions and decisions. All this does is compound my grief, and adds further distance to those who would like me closer. Facing the days is hard enough, without further emotional difficulties to deal with and I have found ways to distance myself, in self preservation, looking after my already broken heart and soul.

Thankfully, the above are in a minority. For the most part, I am blown away time and again by the love and support for myself, the charity and for Edward. For those who have stood by me, encouraged me, helped and supported me, I thank you. Our friendships are stronger, and I’m blessed to have made some new and beautiful friendships. Those who understand me, who get me completely, are really special. They know what I’m trying to achieve, they understand my decisions and actions; they need no explanation. These special people know they’re special, and In turn, special things happen.

I know who I am, and know I am not without fault, but I am always wanting to improve, striving to achieve, aiming to please, trying to make a difference … I am very much my own critic, and often doubt myself, sometimes my ability, but generally whether I’ve done enough; have I been everything to everyone. I know I haven’t, even though I do try. I do my best to fit in as much as I can to be a good mum, wife, daughter, friend; aiming to do all I can for family, friends, community and charity. I try to make you all proud, I hope I do …but I know I will always be trying to do, and be more for you all.

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