James, Our Inspiration…

“The unnatural death of our most precious son James, hit us like a bolt out of the blue; to this day, nearly three years later, we are still reeling from the shock of the dreadful event itself and in utter disbelief and despair at his loss.

In the aftermath, we learnt a great deal about what James had meant to his friends and even brief acquaintances. At the site, where he passed away, were six hundred and fifty seven bouquets of flowers, each with either a hand written letter or card. They all spoke about how much fun he was to be around, their shared happy memories and how he inspired and helped them through difficult times; there were even two long letters describing how James had saved them from taking their own lives…

James became our inspiration, to create a worthy and lasting legacy in his name and as a consequence, provided us with a new focus for our  lives.” 

The Brindley Family.

James Story - James Brindley Foundation

A Precious Life Lost

At 10.20pm on Friday 23rd June 2017, James put his head around the lounge door to say that he was popping out to meet up with some friends in Aldridge. “Have fun Jim, take care.” were our last words to him.

At around midnight, we were woken by our daughter, Charlotte, bursting into our bedroom, screaming that James had been stabbed. We cannot begin to adequately describe our feelings of disbelief, absolute panic and horror, between our abrupt waking, hearing Charlotte’s words and arriving at the scene, literally moments later. As we drove into the village and saw the sea of blue flashing lights at the top of the High Street, our hearts dropped into our stomachs, nauseated by the scale of the incident in front of us, and the dreadful and overwhelming realisation that James’s life was hanging in the balance.

We were prevented from going to him, and instructed to stand at a distance, while the paramedics tried to save him, for what must have been nearly an hour, and which felt like an eternity; we were helpless and we desperately wanted him to know that we were there, so we called to him – “We love you James!”. We prayed for his life, hoping that the medics had the skill and that his fitness, strength and ‘zest for life’, would pull him through.

Eventually, we were told that he had died, and were escorted to his body, lying in his own blood, on the pavement where he fell, his chest opened-up by the medics, to allow open heart surgery and direct heart massage. That horrific scene is permanently imprinted in our memories, and is repeatedly played back in our minds, as a waking nightmare. We live with the unbearable guilt, that we weren’t there at that dreadful moment to defend James, when he needed help; neither were we able to hold him in our arms and comfort him, as his life slipped away. We felt guilty at seeing the sun rise that next morning. We are traumatised and tortured by this on a daily basis. 

Our pain is not just about the manner in which James died or our loss; in fact, it is much, much more, about the life that James has been denied, a life full of potential; potential for meeting ‘the one’ who he may want to spend the rest of his life with, perhaps getting married, maybe having children of his own; taking the knocks that life throws your way and carrying on regardless, enjoying and celebrating success when it comes. Above all, enjoying life with family and lots of friends.

We have been denied the opportunity to play our part, in sharing that life with James, and he also, as an integral part of our lives. These thoughts take us past the point of despair, into utter hopelessness.

One Life Lived, Many Lives Touched…

James entered this life on March 17th,1991 and when he was born, there were seven incredibly nervous doctors and our midwife around the bed, such had been the trauma and concern for James’s and Beverley’s lives. When the midwife finally handed James to Beverley, she took a long and meaningful look at him and said “This little one has passed this way before.” That comment has stayed with us ever since, because throughout James’s life, he seemed to possess the confidence of someone with a special insight into understanding people and life.

Beverley and I had shortlisted a number of names for our first child, having decided that we would name him or her, when we met. When James was passed to us, we both turned and said – “He’s definitely a ‘James’.” 

James quickly grew into a very bonny baby, with a ready smile and a sunny disposition. When James smiled, everyone around him smiled, his happiness was so contagious. We first noticed that, seemingly overnight, James had developed a sense of humour and a liking for the limelight, at about the time he could feed himself in his highchair, which must have been at about 9 months. One particular day, while we were watching him eat and talking to him, he ‘shot us a look’, which seemed to say “ you’re not going to like this much, but I’m doing it anyway”; he stuck his plastic spoon in his mouth, grinning from ear to ear, and watching our faces intently for our reactions, slowly tipped the spaghetti bolognaise over his head and plonked the bowl squarely over the top, as the food gradually slid down his face. The comic timing was faultless, his expression priceless! He roared with laughter, we roared with laughter, and that was it, the scene was set for James ‘The Entertainer’. From then on in, humour was at centre stage for James.

Once James had learnt to walk, parenthood took on a whole new meaning for Beverley and I. Sport to James was disappearing from right under our noses, escaping unnoticed from any kind of situation where he was being supervised; he didn’t like supervision! Any parental distraction whatsoever was immediately and mercilessly taken advantage of! Friends even suggested that we fit a lid on his cot, so that he couldn’t escape ‘under cover of darkness’ when we had fallen asleep! Fellow ‘new parents’ lived in fear of James, in case he taught their children how to be naughty! We began to understand that James had an indomitable zest for life, and that he was in a hurry to live it!

James had a love of water, we assume because of its association with happy family holidays by the sea, or maybe because we always made bath time fun. At around 12 months old, he developed a liking for sitting in the kitchen sink, full of cold water, with specially chosen pots, pans, wooden spoons, and his favourite yellow duck. Somehow, he would drag a chair over to the sink, take his clothes off, fill the sink and climb in. We were surprised to learn, from James’s biking friends, that his love of taking his clothes off in the proximity of any ‘body of water’, was something that he regularly enjoyed on his biking trips, but thankfully we can’t confirm or deny it!

James’s school years were marked with a good deal of learning, that was significantly outweighed by providing humour and general entertainment in class or out, for his schoolmates and teachers. He developed a passion for skating, and just like his first tentative steps as a toddler, and later, learning to ride a bike, he spent a lot of time in the dirt; but when James wanted to do something, his perseverance was relentless, until he had perfected the skill, and it became second nature. By the time he reached his early teens, he was entering and winning skating competitions. He used to say that he wanted to be a professional skater and was actively touting for sponsors!

In higher education, James went on to graduate in Graphic Design initially, and later in Business Management. He had clearly absorbed a great deal of what he had been taught, (unlike school!!), because he had diligently used all those skills in writing his business plans and negotiating the lease on a premises for his first business venture; “the first of many”, he said. In organising his finances, James even sold his beloved motor bikes and car, such was his commitment to the project. He had registered his limited company, designed his corporate logo, and was building his shopfront in the garage at home. He had also learnt how to delegate and had that innate ability to get everyone to run around after him, willingly, even if they really didn’t want to; you might call that, the ‘kite mark’ of a typical managing director and budding entrepreneur! 

As James grew into a man, his strength of character and open personality grew imperceptibly with him. He staggered us with his care for others around the world who were less fortunate and in need. We loved his ability to make new friends wherever he went, people who represented every social status, ethnicity and race from across the country. James never stopped making friends, and his life was enriched through it. So was ours…

HELP US STOP YOUTH VIOLENCE

James Story Letter - James Brindley Foundation

A LETTER FROM HEAVEN

When tomorrow starts without me,
And I’m not here to see,
If the sun should rise, and find your eyes filled with tears for me,
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry
The way you did today;
While thinking of the many things
We didn’t get to say,
I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you;
And each time you think of me
I know you’ll miss me too.

When tomorrow starts without me
Don’t think we’re far apart,

For every time you think of me,
I’m right there in your heart.

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