I hadn't seen my friend Neil since before Christmas. Our art group was invited to a civic reception in Bath, to celebrate the work we had done.
Neil did a little speech to the group gathered there, and as always he was witty, passionate, and down to earth. He was so brilliant at public speaking, putting people at ease immediately.
He was also a fantastic poet. Sometimes, he would read out his work on a Wednesday morning, and his poems would just blow my mind. He had such a beautiful way of expressing himself. He would always start with, 'Oh this one is rubbish.' And we would all tell him off, and shout, 'No its not!'
No matter what was going on in his own life, he would always have a funny story or a silly joke that would make me laugh. You could have such good banter with Neil.
Our group is called Tiny Monuments, and I've just trawled through my paperwork to find our manifesto.
monument - noun: a lasting evidence, reminder or example of someone or something notable or great
- to create a testament to people's experience of life - not mental illness
- to normalise such experiences and create dialogue
And that's exactly what Neil was.
The group won't be the same without him. We will never forget him, he has left a lasting imprint in our hearts and minds.
Although he would absolutely hate this song for being super cheesy, (he liked heavy metal music) , if I could pick a song to play him now, this would be it. Its for Neil, and for you dear reader. To tell you that YOU are loved. That YOU have made an impact. That YOU are special.