The further I travel along this road we call life the more I realise how many people and what circumstances have inspired me. I thought about a spreadsheet to illustrate what I mean but realise this would not come across how I meant it to read.
So I have clustered them together with very brief explanations!
POLITICS: This began early on a school trip to London when I was ten years old.. We were shown round an empty House of Commons. Cheekily I said I wanted to sit in Winston Churchill’s seat. I was allowed to do that and there it all began – my interest and involvement in politics! l Much later I admired his courage and his conviction. The same was of Margaret Thatcher. I know she was not universally loved but to become elected Leader of her Party she took on the men in the first round and won. Her courage was outstanding, particularly after the Brighton bombing. Robin Cook – a man of little charm but great conviction who had the courage to oppose the Iraq war was another influence. Then there was David Blunkett. Despite being blind he has spent many years in politics and served as a Minister. I have met them all and their influences in my life have all been very different. (My own best political job was serving for 12 years on The City of Edinburgh District Council – 4 of them as Leader of my Party)
PUBLIC FIGURES: Whether or not one believes in the Monarchy both The Queen and Prince Philip have given me a sense of public duty in my own work. Again I have met both of them. Prince Philip’s sense of humour is well-known but the Queen has one too though it would be indiscreet of me to quote examples! Nelson Mandela’s bravery always impressed me, even more so when some years ago I visited Soweto and met his first wife who was so loyal. The late Cardinal Gordon Gray was a truly good man and hospitable one too. I guess I learned humility from him.
LITERATURE AND LIBRARIAN; By the time I was 6 I had read all the suitable children’s books in the local library and the librarian steered me through the next stage e.g. to Arthur Ransome, then later the Bronte sisters ( I was brought up near Haworth where they did much of their writing. Today. I read widely and there isn’t room and I am sure dear reader if you are still with me your patience would run away after the first 20 or so authors. I must mention, though Ian Rankin who helped and encouraged me in the writing my own first novel, Whitewalls which was published in 2010 and its sequel I have almost finished. My daughter, Fiona who is a very good part-time artist designed and painted the cover and will do so again
I also want to mention a modern print maker and artist,the late Roy Wood who after my husband, John’s death 11 years ago encouraged me to join a Life Drawing Group which he ran. Not only did I buy some of his pictures but he also inspired me so much I have since exhibited some of my, much more amateurish work. As well the group travelled annually to Andalucia for painting holidays each early summer and there I learned to draw landscapes.
SPORT: I have always loved horses and ridden since I was a child. These magnificent animals have taught me much about courage and communication. I have also played badminton and tennis, again with much dedicated tutoring. I wish football was as gracious a game as Horse Racing.The former trainer, Jack Berry’s son was injured and Jack set up a foundation for young men in similar situations which include a specially equipped holiday house in the sun. This taught me the truth of Kipling’s poem ‘If’ where he includes these word ‘if you can meet with triumph and disaster these two imposters just the same ……..I once owned my own racehorse, Trebonkers who was great fun though eventually he retired to the country
EDUCATION: Oddly I don’t think I was influenced by any of my teachers at school been influenced in a positive way but when it came to college and university there was much more equality. I took these principles to my last full-time job as Chief Executive of a childcare centre in a deprived part of Edinburgh catering for some 200 families with babies from six weeks to after- school children up to the age of 12. That’s a whole story in itself.
FAMILY: I married at the young age of 19 to a man twenty years older who had three motherless little boys. We had a daughter, Fiona, The marriage didn’t last but my second husband, John, welcomed all the boys into what became a large family as he had four children too. I found them all inspiring in different ways. John was one of nature’s gentlemen and never had a bad or unkind word to say about anyone. Sadly my middle son, Christopher whose mission in life was going round the world doing good died suddenly 7 years ago Fiona almost died from a bout of pneumonia in 2010 but recovered. So despite my losses and failures I truly I have been blessed, as well as inspired.
Article by Christine Richard, OBE, FRSA