As part of the ongoing challenges that came about as part of the problems with my dad’s Will, I was required the other week to find myself a local solicitor so that they could witness me affirm a statement (or swear an
oath, for those of you who are that-way inclined). Sounds easy, right?
Well: it turns out that the solicitor I chose did it wrong. How is it even possible to incorrectly witness an affirmation? I wouldn’t have thought it so. But
apparently they did. So now I have to hunt down the same solicitor and try again. It has to be the same one “because they did it partially right”, or else I have to start the current
part of the process all over again. But moreover, I’ll be visiting the same solicitor because I want my damn money back!
I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty. Suffice to say that this is a surprising annoyance in an already all-too-drawn-out process. It’s enough to make you swear. Curse words, I mean: not an
Since my dad’s funeral earlier this year, I’ve been acting as executor to his estate.
What this means in real terms is lots of paperwork, lots of forms, and lots of dealing with lawyers. I’ve learned a lot about intestacy law, probate, inheritance tax, and more, but what
I thought I’d share with you today are some things I’ve learned about Wills.
Note: This blog post discusses the duties of an executor in a way that some people might find disrespectful to the deceased. No disrespect is intended; this is just the
way that I write. If you’re offended: screw you.
Here are 4 things you should do when writing a Will (which my dad didn’t):
1. Keep it up-to-date
What you should do: So long as you’re happy with the broader clauses in your will, there’s no need to change it frequently. But if there’s information that’s
clearly missing or really out-of-date, it ought to be fixed.
What my dad did: My dad’s Will was ten and a half years old at the time of his death. In the intervening time, at least five important things had happened that
he’d failed to account for:
He’d bought himself a flat. Unlike his other real estate, he’d not made specific mention of the flat in his Will, so it fell into his “everything else goes to…” clause. We can only
assume that this is what he intended – it seems likely – but specific clarification would have been preferable!
I changed my name. This was a whole five years before he died, but his Will still refers to me by my birth
name (which wouldn’t necessarily have been a problem except for the issue listed below under “State your relationships”).
I moved house. Seven times. The address for me (under my old name, remember) on my dad’s Will is one that I lived in for less than six months, and over a decade ago.
That’s a challenging thing to prove, when it’s needed! Any of the addresses I lived at in the intervening 10+ years would have been an improvement.
The ownership model of a company in which he was the founder and a large shareholder changed: whereas previously it was a regular limited-by-shares company, it had become in those
ten years an employee-owned company, whose articles require that shares are held only by employees. This posed an inheritance conundrum for the beneficiaries of these shares, for a
while, who did not want to sell – and could not legitimately keep – them. Like everything else, we resolved it in the end, but it’s the kind of thing that could have been a lot easier.
His two daughters – my sisters – became adults. If there’s somebody in your Will who’s under 18, you really ought to re-check that your Will is still accurate when they turn
18. The legacies in my dad’s Will about my sisters and I are identical, but had he died, for example, after the shares-change above but before my youngest sister became an adult, things
could have gotten very complicated.
2. State your relationships
What you should do: When you use somebody’s name for the first time, especially if it’s a family member, state their relationship to you. For example, you might
write “To my daughter, Jane Doe, of 1 Somewhere Street, Somewhereville, SM3 4RE…”. This makes your intentions crystal clear and provides a safety net in
finding and validating the identity of your executors, trustees, and beneficiaries.
What my dad did: In my dad’s Will, he doesn’t once refer to the relationship that any person has to him. This might not be a problem in itself – it’s only a safety net,
after all – if it weren’t for the fact that I changed my name and moved house. This means that I, named as an executor and a beneficiary of my dad’s Will, am not referred
to in it either my by name, nor by my address, nor by my relationship. It might as well be somebody else!
To work around this, I’ve had to work to prove that I was known by my old name, that I did live at that address at the time that the Will was written, and that
he did mean me when he wrote it. And I’ve had to do that every single time I contacted anybody who was responsible for any of my dad’s assets. That’s a job that gets old
3. Number every page, and initial or sign each
What you should do: If your Will runs onto multiple pages, and especially if you’ll be printing it onto multiple sheets of paper (rather than, for example, duplexing a
two-page Will onto two sides of the same sheet of paper), you should probably put page numbers on. And you should sign, or at least initial, the bottom of each page. This
helps to reduce the risk that somebody can tamper with the Will by adding or removing pages.
What my dad did: My dad’s will is only dated and signed at the end, and the pages are completely un-numbered. It clearly hasn’t been tampered with (members of the
family have seen it before; a duplicate copy was filed elsewhere; and we’ve even found the original document it was printed from), but if somebody had wanted to, it would have been a
lot easier than it might have been if he had followed this guideline. It would have also made it a lot easier when he made an even bigger mistake, below (see “Never restaple
4. Never restaple it
What you should do: Fasten the pages of your Will together with a single staple. If the staple bends or isn’t in the right place, destroy the entire Will and
re-print: it’s only a few sheets of extra paper, the planet will cope. A Will with additional staple marks looks like a forgery, because it’s possible that pages were changed
(especially if you didn’t number and/or sign every page) after the fact.
What my dad did: His biggest mistake in his Will (after failing to identify me in an easily-recognisable manner) was to – as far as we can see – print it, staple
it, remove the staple, and re-staple it. It was the very first thing I noticed when I saw it, and it was among the first things out lawyers noticed too. In order to ensure
that they can satisfy the Probate Registry, our lawyers then had to chase down the witnesses to the signing of the Will and get statements from them that they believed that it hadn’t
been tampered with. Who’d have thought that two little holes could cause so much work?
I could have made this list longer. I originally started with a list of nine things that my dad had done when he wrote his Will that are now making my job a lot harder than it
might have been, but I cut it down to these four, because they’re the four that have caused the most unnecessary work for me.
Unless your estate is really complicated, you don’t need a solicitor to write a Will: you just need to do a little reading and use a little common sense. I’m a big fan of people doing
their own legal paperwork (hence my service to help people change their
names for free), but if you’re going to write your own Will, you might like to do half an hour’s background reading, first. This stuff is important.
When I first looked at the task of acting as my father’s executor, after his death, I thought “I can have this all wrapped up in eight months.” That was six months ago, and there’s
probably another six months or more in it, yet. I heard from a friend that they call it “The Executor’s Year”, and now I can see why. We’re getting there, but it’s taking a
Even when all the crying’s done and the bereaved are getting on with their lives, the executor’s always got more to do. So please, for the sake of your executor: check today that your
Will doesn’t make any of these four mistakes! They’ll thank you, even though you won’t live to hear it.
I’m not sure that they expected me to attend. I’m certain that they didn’t expect me to bring a bottle of Guinness Original with me. But I had a plan: when the moment seemed right, I
got everybody’s attention and – explaining that my dad was never really a wine drinker but enjoyed a good stout – christened the vehicle with a spray of beer.
I think that this is a wonderfully fitting tribute to a man who did so much for the transport industry, and – based on the mutterings I heard at the naming ceremony – I wouldn’t be the
only one to think that perhaps other bus companies ought to have done the same! In any rate, as I joked to my sister: “My dad would have been delighted to know that now all of the young
ladies of Nottingham can ride on Peter Huntley all day.”
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Nottingham, keep an eye out for a big orange Optare Versa, registration YJ12 PKU. That’s Peter Huntley you’re
Further reading: another
take, including a photo of the new bus driving around.
Warning: this post contains details of the nature of the accident that killed my father, including a summary of the post-mortem report and photographs which, while not
graphic, may be evocative.
Last week, I attended a coroner’s inquest, which (finally) took place following my father’s sudden death earlier this year. It’s been five months since he fell to his death in the Lake District, while he was training for a sponsored trek to the North Pole
this spring. Despite the completion of the post-mortem only a week or so after his death and the police investigation not running on too much longer after that, it took a long time
before the coroner was ready to set a date for an inquest hearing and finally put the matter to rest.
I made my way up to Kendal – presumably chosen for its proximity to the coroner who serves the hospital where my father was airlifted after his fall – in a rental car, picking up my
sisters and my mother in Preston on the way. We were joined at the County Hall by my dad’s friend John (who was with him on the day of the accident), Kate (a partner of my dad’s), and – after his complicated train journey finally got him there – Stephen (one of my dad’s brothers).
Mostly, the inquest went as I’d anticipated it might. The post-mortem report was read out – the final verdict was that death was primarily caused by a compression fracture in the upper
spine and a fracture of the base of the skull, which is a reassuringly quick and painless way to go, as far as falling injuries are concerned. John’s statement was summarised, and he
was asked a series of clarifying questions in order to ensure that my dad was properly equipped and experienced, in good health etc. on the day of his accident.
This was clearly a painful but sadly-necessary ordeal for John, who’d already been through so much. In answer to the questions, he talked about how he and my dad had rambled together
for years, about how they came to be where they were on that day, and about the conditions and the equipment they’d taken. And, in the minutes leading up to my dad’s death, how he’d
been coincidentally taking photographs – including the one below. He’d been in the process of putting his camera away when my dad slipped, so he didn’t see exactly what happened, but he
looked up as my dad shouted out to him, “John!”, before he slid over the cliff edge.
Later, we heard from the police constable who was despatched to the scene. The constable had originally been en route to the scene of a minor road crash when he was diverted to my dad’s
accident. He related how the two helicopter teams (the Air Ambulance hadn’t been able to touch down, but paramedics had been able to leap out at low altitude, so an RAF Search & Rescue
helicopter was eventually used to transport the body to the hospital) had worked on the scene, and about his investigation – which had included seizing John’s digital camera and
interviewing him and the other ramblers who’d been at the scene.
That’s all very sad, but all pretty-much “as expected”. But then things took a turn for the unexpected when Kate introduced herself as a surprise witness. Making an affirmation and taking the stand, she
related how she felt that my father’s walking boots were not in adequate state, and how she’d told him about this on several previous occasions (she’s now said this on her website, too).
I’m not sure what this was supposed to add to the hearing. I suppose that, were it not for the mitigating factors of everything else, it might have ultimately contributed
towards a possible verdict of “death by misadventure” rather than “accidental death”: the subtle difference here would have affected any life insurance that he might have had (he
didn’t), by giving a reason to reject a claim (“he wasn’t properly-equipped”). John’s statement, as well as subsequent examination of my dad’s boots by my sister Sarah, contradicted
Kate’s claim, so… what the hell was that all about?
We all handle grief in different ways, and its my hypothesis that this was part of hers. Being able to stand in front of a court and describe herself as “Peter’s partner” (as if she
were the only or even the most-significant one), and framing his death as something for which she feels a responsibility (in an “if only he’d listened to me about his boots!” way)…
these aren’t malicious acts. She wasn’t trying to get an incorrect verdict nor trying to waste the courts’ time. This is just another strange way of dealing with grief (and damn, I’ve
seen enough of those, this year).
But I’d be lying if it didn’t cause quite a bit of concern and confusion among my family when she first stood up and said that she had a statement to make.
Anyway: regardless of that confusing little diversion, it’s good that we’ve finally been able to get the coroners’ inquest to take place. At long last – five months after my dad’s death
– we can get a proper death certificate I (as an executor of his will) can start mopping up some of the more-complicated parts of his estate.
It feels like most of the time I’ve spent in a car this year, so far, has been for travel related to somebody’s recent death. And so it was that yesterday, Ruth, JTA and I zipped up and down the motorway to attend the funeral of
It went really well, but what I wanted to share with you today was two photos that I took at service stations along the the way.
This one confuses me a lot. If I buy alcohol from this service area, I can’t drink it either inside… or outside… the premises. Are they unlicensed, perhaps, and so the only way they’re
allowed to sell us alcohol is if we promise not to drink it? Or is it perhaps the case that they expect us only to consume it when we’re in a parallel dimension?
It’s hard to see in the second photo without clicking (to see it in large-o-vision), but the sign on the opposite wall in this Costa Coffee implies the possibility of being an
“Americano Addict”. And there was something about that particular marketing tack that made me cringe.
Imagine that this was not a café but a bar, and substitute the names of coffees with the names of alcoholic beverages. Would it be cool to advertise your products to the “wine addicts”
or the “beer addicts” of the world? No: because alcoholism isn’t hip and funny… but caffeine addiction is? Let’s not forget that caffiene is among
the most-addictive drugs in the world. Sure, caffeine addiction won’t wreck your liver like alcohol will or give you cancer like smoking tobacco (the most-popular way to consume
nicotine) will, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that there are many people for whom a dependency upon caffeine is a very real part of their everyday life.
Is it really okay to make light of this by using such a strong word as “addict” in Costa’s marketing? Even if we’re sticking with alliteration to fit in with the rest of their
marketing, wouldn’t “admirer” or “aficionado” be better? And at least that way, Costa wouldn’t leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth.
This weekend was the worst net weekend of cinemagoing experiences that I’ve ever had. I went to the cinema twice, and both times I left dissatisfied. An earlier blog post
talked about the second of the two trips: this is about the first.
You know what – 2012 has been a pretty shit year, so far. We’ve had death (my father’s), more death
(my partner’s grandmother’s), illness (my sister’s horrific face infection), and injury (a friend of mine lost her leg to a train, a few
weeks ago, under very tragic circumstances). We’ve had breakups (a wonderful couple I know suddenly separated) and busy-ness (a cavalcade of day-job work, Three Rings work, course work, and endless
bureaucracy as executor of my dad’s will).
But it gets worse:
On Friday night, I went out with my family to watch Piranha 3DD.
This is one of those bad films that falls into the gap of mediocrity between films that are bad but watchable and films that are so bad that they wrap right around to
being enjoyable again (you know, the “so bad they’re good” kind of movies). To summarise:
Lots of nudity, all presented in 3D. If there’ll ever be anything that convinces me that 3D films are a good idea, porn will probably be it. Boobs boobs boobs.
3D films remain a pointless gimmick, still spending most of their time playing up the fact that they’re 3D (lots of long objects, like broom handles, pointing towards the camera,
etc.), and still kinda blurry and headache-inducing. Plus: beams of light (e.g. from a torch) in 3D space don’t look like that. The compositor should be fired.
The cameos mostly serve to show off exactly how unpolished the acting is of the less well-known actors.
Plenty of less-enjoyable pop culture references: if you’re not going to do the “false leg is actually a gun” thing even remotely as well at Planet Terror, don’t even try – it’s like trying to show a good movie in the middle of your crappy movie, but not even managing to do
Unlikeable, unmemorable characters who spend most of their time engaging in unremarkable teen drama bullshit. Same old sex joke repeated as many times as they think they can get
away with. And then a couple of times more.
Lackluster special effects: mangled bodies that don’t look much like bodies, vicious fish don’t look remotely like fish (and, for some reason, growl at people), and
CGI that would look dated on a straight-to-video release.
So it was a really special moment to discover that, this weekend, my dad finally made it to the pole. My sisters and I had arranged that a portion of his cremated ashes would be
carried with the polar trek team and scattered at what must be one of the most remote places on Earth – the very top of the world. It’s nice to think that not even death was enough to
stop my dad from getting to the planet’s most Northernmost spot, even if he had to be carried for the last 600 miles.
Meanwhile, donations flooded in faster than ever to my dad’s fundraising page,
taking the grand total to over £12,000 – significantly in excess of the £10,000 he’d hoped to raise. My family and I are gobsmacked with the generosity of the people who’ve donated, and
incredibly grateful to them as well as to the team that took him on the last ten days of his journey to the Pole.
It pleases me that my dad gets to trespass somewhere he shouldn’t be, one last time: this time, breaking the international conventions that require that nothing gets “left” at the North
Pole. The remainder of my fathers ashes will be scattered by my sisters and I from the top of a particular mountain, as he’d sometimes said that he’d wanted.
And after all of these adventures, I think he deserves to get what he wants. With no apologies for the pun: he’s urn‘d it!
Since my dad’s funeral, a little over a month ago, I’ve been responsible – as executor of his will – for
leading the efforts to deal with the distribution of his estate. By necessity of the complexity of the case, we’ve had to draft some friendly lawyers, but there’s still been an awful
lot to be taken care of by my sisters, my mother, my dad’s partner, and I, among others. Some bits have been easier than others.
Standard Life‘s pensions department, for example, made my dealings with them very easy: they explained exactly what
they needed from me, exactly what they’d do with it, and how quickly they could act upon it. TV Licensing, on the other
hand, seem to be working against me rather than for me, issuing me a cheque made out as it is to “Executor of MR P HUNTLEY”, which was subsequently rejected by my bank on account of
being in the name of nobody at all. I suppose I could easily change my
name in order to accept that cheque, but that seems like the wrong solution. Plus I’ve always felt like more of a “Dan” than an “Executor”.
I’ve begun packing up the contents of my dad’s house, too, so that they can be meaningfully distributed to whoever ought to have them. This leads to an inevitable clash, of course,
between the lawyers and the local council. The former want us to remove as little as possible before they can appraise the value of the contents, which is relevant to the assessment of
inheritance tax. The latter demand that the house be left unfurnished so that it does not become liable for council tax. In order to walk the fine line between the two I’ve been
packaging things up based on their types: his vast library of transport books in these boxes, etc. And despite great efforts (such as the work it took to disassemble the rusty
old trampoline in the back garden), it still feels like there’s a long, long, long way to go.
Friday was the day of my dad’s funeral. If you’ve just tuned in, you might like to see my blog post about his death, and a second article about the things that have been hardest, so far, in
its aftermath. I’m not inclined to say too much, so I’ll be brief and let pictures, and a video, tell the story. As usual, you’ll find that you can click on the pictures to enlarge
A remarkable number of people turned up to mark my dad’s passing on this sad occasion. I was genuinely surprised to see how many lives he’d touched (and to hear about a great many more
from people who couldn’t make it). About 350 people struggled to fit in to the cramped crematorium, and many had to stand outside where – thankfully – there were repeater speakers.
My sisters and I were determined that this event would be a celebration of our father’s life. So rather than focusing on his tragic and premature death, we made every effort
to commemorate his achievements and reinforce the lessons that we can all learn from his time with us. In a similar vein, we’d told everybody that we had the chance to that there was no
need to wear black for this funeral: that people should wear what’s appropriate to them for their personal act of mourning and remembrance.
We’d hired a former minister, Ken Howles, to provide a (thoroughly secular, under threat of non-payment!) framework for the service, but we “rolled our own” so far as possible. Seven
individual tributes and eulogies were given by people representing different aspects of my dad’s life: from my mother, from his partner, from the friend with whom he was walking on the
day he died, from the managing directors of the company he founded and the company he last worked for, from the chief executive of the charity he was fundraising for, and – finally –
(if you can’t view the YouTube video above, or if you want to share it with others, you can also view it on YouTube)
The contrast between the different tributes was stark and staggering, reflecting the huge variety in the different facets of my father’s life. From guerrilla gardening to
trainspotting, lessons learned to tyres pulled, we collectively painted a picture of the spectrum of my dad’s life. The tributes given were, in order:
My mother, Doreen (watch), who talked about their adventures together as
young adults and the roots of his career in transport
His partner, Jenny (watch), who shared the experiences they’d had together, and
mourned for those that they would not
His friend, John (watch), who let us in on the things that they’d talked about
during my dad’s final hours
Kevin, the managing director of Go North-East (watch), on the subject of my dad’s recent career and influence on British transport
Gary, chief executive of TransAid (watch), announced the future creation of the Peter Huntley Fundraising Award, and thanked my dad and his supporters on behalf of
the dozens of charities my dad helped
And finally, me (watch), contrasting all of the above by talking about what
my dad was like as a father and a friend, and the lessons we can learn from him
Afterwards, we held a wake at Grimsargh Village Hall which, on account of the sheer number of bus industry attendees,
rapidly became a micro-conference for the public transport sector! It was great to have the chance to chat to so many people who’d worked with my dad in so many different contexts.
Between hot food provided by a local caterer, cold savories courtesy of
Jenny’s daugher Eppie, and a copious quantity of cakes baked by Ruth, there was an incredible superfluity
of food. These two, plus JTA, Paul, and Eppie’s
boyfriend James, provided a spectacular level of “behind-the-scenes” magic, keeping everything running smoothly and ensuring that everything happened as and when it was supposed to.
We set up a “memory book”, in which people could write their recollections of my dad. I haven’t had time to read much of it yet, but one of them stands out already to me as a concise
and simple explanation of what we achieved at the crematorium that day. It reads:
“Great funeral, Peter. Sorry that you missed it.”
It was certainly a great send-off for a man who did so much for so many people. Thank you so much to everybody who made it such a success, and to everybody who, in the meantime, has
donated to TransAid via my dad’s
JustGiving page (or by giving us cash or cheques at or after the funeral). You’re helping his memory live on, for everybody: thank you.
On Sunday 19th February 2012, Peter George Huntley was killed in a tragic accident while training for a sponsored expedition to the North Pole in aid of TransAid. During his life, he
worked tirelessly to improve the face of British transport and for innumerable charities and worthy causes. He leaves behind a son and two daughters.
On Friday 2nd March 2012, a funeral service was held for him at Preston Crematorium. Around 350 people representing all of the different facets of Peter’s life attended to share in a
celebration of his life and a mourning of his passing. Surrounded by Peter’s family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours, tributes were given to this great and admirable man.
In the background, fragments can be heard of the following pieces of music, to which Peter’s family do not own nor claim a copyright:
Alive in the World, by Jackson Browne
Dancing Queen, by ABBA
Clear White Light, by Lindisfarne
Thanks to Paul Mann(YouTube: pacifist049) for filming.
1:20 – Ken Holmes (minister) begins the ceremony and explains his role
2:52 – Doreen Huntley (Peter’s ex-wife) talks about how he got started in transport
7:19 – Jenny Berry (Peter’s partner) talks about her life with him
10:35 – John Taylor (friend and colleague of Peter) shares the things that he and Peter talked about on Peter’s final day
16:33 – Adrian Grant (Managing Director of TAS) talks about what it was like to work alongside Peter at TAS
22:17 – Ken Howles introduces a video of Peter Huntley singing Dancing Queen 26:11 – Ken Howles introduces the second set of tributes
26:30 – Kevin Carr (Managing Director of Go North-East) applauds Peter’s work during his time with the company
31:09 – Gary Foster (Chief Executive at TransAid) gives thanks for Peter’s extensive charity work, and announces the creation of the Peter Huntley Fundraising Award
33:12 – Dan Q (Peter’s son) talks about the lessons that he did – and didn’t – learn from his father
38:20 – Ken Howles offers some closing words, and a poem
41:07 – Closing music and photo of Peter
My dad died almost a fortnight ago when he lost his footing during a climb in the Lake District, and –
since then – it’s felt like I’ve been involuntarily transplanted out of my life and into somebody else’s. I’ve only been in and out of work, and I’m glad to have done that: it’s added a
semblance of normality to my routine. But most of my “new life” seems to consist of picking up the pieces of the jigsaw of my dad’s affairs and piecing them together into a meaningful
The big stuff is easy. Or, at least, it’s easy thanks to the support of my sisters and my mum. The big stuff isn’t small, of course, and it takes a significant effort to make sure it’s
handled correctly: arranging a funeral and a wake, pouring over the mountains of paperwork in my dad’s files, and discussing what’s to ultimately be done with his house… those are all
But the small things: they’re tough. The little things that sneak up on you when you least expect it. Last night, Becky and I were watching television when an advertisement came on.
We were both trying to work out what it was an advertisement for – perhaps some kind of holiday company? – as we watched a scene of a family (father, mother, and two teenage daughters)
packing their bags and moving them into the hallway. The kids squeezed past their dad on the stairs and hugged their mother: “It won’t be the same, without dad,” said one.
The commercial was for life insurance, and it pulled a Sixth Sense (spoiler:
Bruce Willis is dead the entire time) on us – the girls’ father wasn’t there at all.
That we happened to see that advertisement was a little thing, in the scale of things. But it’s the little things that are the hard ones.
Funeral’s tomorrow. I’d better finish writing this eulogy.
And honestly, I’m not sure what else to say. There’s nothing else left to say. It felt like my tweet – like all tweets – said too little, too. But I didn’t want to keep anybody in the dark about this
tragic news, so… well…
As I mentioned in December, my dad had planned a sponsored expedition to the North Pole, this April, in order to raise money for
TransAid, a charity about whose work he was passionate. As part of his training, he was up on High Street, a fell in the Lake District, with his friend
John. There, he lost his footing and slipped, falling over a 200 foot precipice. He was discovered to be dead when the air ambulance arrived; almost certainly killed pretty much
instantaneously by the fall.
Since then, I’ve been in Preston, where my sisters, our mother, my dad’s partner, and our friends have been trying to come to terms with this tragic loss, and to make arrangements for
his funeral. We’re keeping busy, which is probably for the best, right now. I’d like to say thank you to everybody who’s sent cards, emails, or text messages: your thoughts and
sympathies are really appreciated, and I apologise that there simply hasn’t been time to reply to you all individually.
My dad died doing what he loved: exploring the outdoors, walking, climbing, and pushing his limits, in aid of a worthy cause that meant a lot to him. He was in incredible physical
fitness, and I’d always suspected that 15 years from now, with him in his 70s and I in my 40s, he’d still have been able to outpace me on a scramble up Helvellyn’s Striding Ridge.
I’m sad that that’s a theory that I’ll never be able to put to the test. I’m sad that my dad never lived long enough to see if he’d have any grandchildren. I’m sad that the world is so
cruel as to deny us all those conversations left unfinished and those mountains left unconquered. I’m even sad that I’ll never again get an out-of-the-blue call from him on some
Saturday afternoon because he can’t work out how to use his printer, or fix his Internet connection.
And I still don’t know what to say. So for now, at least, that’s all.
This is my father. He’s dragging a tyre in the photo because he’s in training to do a sponsored walk to the North Pole, to
raise money for a charity called TransAid.
Apparently, tying a tyre to your waist and then dragging it around accurately simulates the effort required to drag a sled with all the provisions you need for a two-week journey
across the Arctic.
He’s 54, and he’s in spectacular physical fitness. Over the last few years I’ve seen him do sponsored hikes up Kilimanjaro and Everest, thousand mile cycles in ten days, marathons and
triathlons. I’m 24 years younger than him, and I’m not even slightly as fit as he is.
Was, sorry. Got to get used to saying that.
Yesterday, my dad was killed during a training exercise in Britain’s Lake District. He slipped on a patch of ice and fell 700 feet into a ravine. By the time the rescue helicopter had
arrived, he was already dead.
It seems unfair that he was ready to brave a trek to the North Pole – one of the most inhospitable parts of the planet – but what killed him was a slip and a fall up a hill just 50
miles from his house. A hill that he, and I, and my two younger sisters have climbed together, before.
Apparently I have to go and formally identify the body. Apparently I need to execute his will. Apparently I’ve got to organise a funeral. Suddenly my life has come to a standstill and
a different life has arrived to take its place. I’m suddenly thrust into a world of paperwork and of calling distant relatives. A world of grief and consolation. A world in which the
man I admired… the man I called “dad”… is no longer a part.
I feel woefully inadequate for all of these roles. I just want to phone up my dad and ask for his advice, and have him be there to help me, as he’s always been there to help me
before. But that’s something that I can never do again.
Reddit: call somebody you love today. You might not get another chance.
tl;dr: My dad was killed yesterday in a tragic accident. Call somebody you love today.