Born on March 17th 1991 to parents Mark and Beverley Brindley, James was tragically murdered as he walked home following an evening out with friends, just a few hundred metres from his family home in Aldridge, West Midlands, on June 23 2017. James like many others throughout the UK fell victim to youth violence – having being attacked by a local, knife carrying young person, aged just seventeen. James wasn’t part of a gang. He was an innocent young man, walking home whilst talking on the phone to his girlfriend when his life was tragically taken away. Knives take lives, and we are The James Brindley Foundation.
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’ and Beverley’s lives. When the midwife finally handed James to Beverley, she took a long, 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 and experience of understanding people and life.
Beverley and I had shortlisted a number of names for our first born, 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’.” Coincidentally, James’s maternal great grandmother, Eileen, was also born on 17th March, which we all know as St.Patrick’s Day. So, It felt appropriate to give James his middle name, Patrick, in loving memory of Eileen, and to commemorate that amazing coincidence. 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 high chair, which must have been at about 6 months. One particular day, he ‘shot us a look’, while we were watching him eat and talking to him, 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 the association with happy family holidays by the sea, or 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 recently 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 even more 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 competitions. He used to say that he wanted to be a professional skater and was actively touting for sponsors! Hint Hint!!
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; he 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 personality grew imperceptibly with him; he staggered us with his care for others; people that many would pass by in the street, without noticing, he stopped to give a helping hand or have a chat; he gave his precious time. He cared for those less fortunate, all around the world, who he’d read about on the internet, and got seriously steamed up about. We are so very proud of his loyalty, honesty and integrity, even in the most challenging situations, he never flinched. Looking back, Beverley and I can recall that we witnessed so many of those traits at an incredibly young age, inborn maybe. It’s perhaps not surprising then, that we regularly see so many of James’s friends, from early school years, and throughout his life, who call round to see how we are getting on. On the less positive side, let’s not beat about the bush, James was seriously challenging, and he gave us all a hard time. He had the ability to see through the faint hearted; If words were spoken without absolute conviction, he challenged them; when delivered straight from the heart, he fell silent.
Well listen up James, these words come straight from the heart, so I know I won’t get any back chat from you –
Our love for you is unfathomable, we miss you so much our hearts break each time we think of you; and we think of you constantly.
You entered this life in trauma, and so tragically, you left it in trauma too, cruelly and suddenly taken from us, we will always be completely overwhelmed by your loss. Well Jim, you have finally escaped from the clutches of Mum & Dad, and you have left behind an enormous black hole, which nothing can diminish.
The best we can do, is to re-build our lives around your memory and in honour of everything you stood for.
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.