There have been a couple of recent diary entries where I have been pessimistic as to our country's future. Pessimistic, I feel, with just cause but let me balance things a little today. NO balance them A LOT.
Yesterday marked five weeks since my daughter died. Five hard and difficult weeks but five weeks in which so much love has been shown to my family, love from so many people and so great that I can never, ever say a big enough THANK YOU to everyone.
The recent spell of hot weather has taken a toll on my garden, I was out there yesterday with the hosepipe offering first aid to the flowers, to the strawberry plants and to the wilting tomatoes. I heard the phone ringing inside the house so raced up the path and snatched the handset before the caller hung up.
It was Toni Fisher, the practice manager from my GP's surgery calling to ask how I and my wife Maureen were. How were we coping with our loss ? Was there anything we needed ?
Can you believe that ? A large and busy doctors surgery serving many thousands of families yet the person in charge of its administration and co-ordination took time out to personally call me. Love does not come much better than that. Incredible as it was, it is just one expression of the immeasurable love my family has received across the past five weeks.
Doctor Philip Mason, Renal Consultant at Oxford's Churchill Hospital, said to me the day after Rebekah died, "My job is not to treat patients but to care for them."
Let me put a face to the man - here he is, Lovely Doctor Philip Mason. Rebekah thought the world of him and so do I. "My job is not to treat patients but to care for them."
The phone rang one evening, two or three days after we lost Beck. It was Maureen and my GP Doctor Hilmy. Before she moved to Northampton Doctor Hilmy had also been Rebekah's GP. Gary, Rebekah's husband, calls him Doctor Heal-me. Let me introduce you to this incredible man.
Doctor Hilmy was calling to say how sorry he was and to express his lovefor my family. He said during that telephone conversation, "You may be my patient but you are also my friend." I could write so much about lovely Doctor Hilmy but back to that call yesterday from Toni Fisher. She said that Doctor Labrum had asked if he could have my telephone number as he would like to speak to me.
Doctor Labum retired fifteen years ago, he was my family's GP when each of my children were born and the family doctor who oversaw Rebekah's condition when it first became apparent thirty-two years ago. Of course Doctor Labrum could have my number, I would be proud if he wanted to call.
I returned to the garden and busied myself spraying a jet of water over wilting flowers. Fortunately I had left the door to the patio open so heard the phone ringing again. Linford Christie you would have been proud of my sprint back up to the house. It was Doctor Labrum calling. The practice manager must have called him the moment we finished speaking, given him my number and he called me straight away. We spoke for a long, long time on the telephone, a beautiful conversation filled with love. How wonderfully special that a man who had retired fifteen years ago still wanted to speak about one of his patients ! He remembered Rebekah so well, his words were so beautiful, so loving and so comforting.
I said to Doctor Labrum that I was proud he had been my family's GP. Unfortunately I do not have a photograph of Doctor Labrum, even the mighty Google can not help me. I do have a photograph of this man.
This is Iain Stewart, our local MP. Here is a letter Iain wrote to me a few weeks ago.
LOOK - it is on House of Commons letterhead. LOOK - it is hand written.
Iain was thanking me for praising the work of Milton Keynes Hospital. The Nurse Specialist who looked after Rebekah's dialysis even took time out of her duties to come to her funeral.
For thirty-two years, since Rebekah's renal failure was first diagnosed I have had experience of our WONDERFUL NHS. I shout my mouth off all the time about it. My wife says I talk too much, I can never talk enough about the likes of Doctor Mason, Doctor Hilmy, Doctor Labrum, Oxford University Hospitals, Milton Keynes Hospital - I can never shout my mouth off loud enough and for long enough in praise our incredible health service.
When I am shouting I now mention Iain's hand written letter and say how special it is that a busy MP could do that. Iain is a strong supporter of our NHS and himself a lovely man. When I spoke to Toni Fisher yesterday and speaking the day after Beck's funeral to the deputy CEO of Milton Keynes Hospital they both praised Iain for his support.
I will be seeing Iain in a couple of weeks when he attends an event Maureen, my wife, is running. No doubt I will bend his ear as I praise the National health Service again.
Putting down the telephone yesterday my first reaction was to write again to Iain then I devised a different plan. I am very good at opening doors. If I knock and the door is not opened I just kick it in and enter anyway. YES, I will tell Iain about those two 'phone calls from yesterday but first let me tell his boss.
I doubt anyone reading this diary entry will recognise this man. NO, he is not a doctor. NO, he does not work for the NHS. He is Peter Hill, Principal Private Secretary to The Prime Minister.
On Monday morning he will be receiving a recorded delivery letter within which there will be another letter for Iain Stewart's boss. I am asking him to arrange a fifteen minute meeting for me with Theresa May. The letter will be worded in such a way it will be very difficult for him or Mrs May to refuse. As Prime Minister Theresa May meets hundreds of people every week, some will just be faces that pass her by and are forgotten within seconds. I promise you Mrs May you will not forget those fifteenminutes you spend with me. You probably will not be able to say much as I will be dominating the conversation throughout as I tell you experience after experience after experience praising our National Health Service.
Mrs May I will meet you anywhere in the country at any time on any day. I want just fifteen minutes of your time. Fifteen minutes to praise our National Health Service. During those fifteen minutes I will give you two thoughts to take away with you.
FIRSTLY it is not the politicians that make a country great, they can do all they like but it is the PEOPLE who make a country great. People like Doctor Mason, people like Doctor Labrum, People like Doctor Heal-me, people like all those who work in our National Health Service.
SECONDLY Mrs May, I will be telling you the National Health Service is NOT undefended. Yes, of course, it needs more cash, no matter how much money government throws at itthere will never be enough. Government is in an impossible position and can never find enough. However, when it comes to LOVE our National Health Service is OVER-FUNDED by the incredible people who work within it.
Yesterday two of Rebekah's friends and I met to discuss ideas we have to help Ronald McDonald as he supports families of sick children in hospital. Mrs May I intend to pack a lot into our fifteen minute meeting, I wonder if you and your husband would allow me to take you for a burger at a branch of McDonalds ? We'll also talk about that in our fifteen minute meeting.
My family would never have coped when Rebekah was a child in hospital if it were not forRonald McDonald House. For thirty years my family has supported Ronald. Rebekah put in her will a wish that we support Ronald in her memory.
Unlike myself, Ronald does not shout his mouth off. I admire McDonalds, the fast food giant, for the calm and almost secretive way it goes about the work Ronald McDonald Houses do. It could make so much marketing capital out of its work but does not. I wonder if Prime Minister May knows of Ronald's work. She will once we have met.
On Tuesday I have a meeting with a McDonald's franchise owner and his Marketing Manager. Following the meeting yesterday with some of Beck's friends, I am busy typing up notes to share and plan tomorrow to write a diary entry which I will call MEMORIES OF McDONALDS.
I really would like to take Mr and Mrs May to McDonalds and to show them the Ronald McDonald boxes there. I will be asking Iain Stewart to come with me to our local branch, share a burger, see what Ronald is up to and for me to tell him how Beck's friends and family want to help Ronald. When we go I would love it if someone from Whaddon Medical Centre and someone from Milton Keynes Hospital could join us.
My wife says I talk too much, as you can see when I get going I write too much as well. But there are some things in life you can not say too much about.
Time for me to shut up. I'll be back tomorrow with my memories of McDonalds. (NO the way I write McDonalds is NOT a typo - I will explain tomorrow.)