In this interview with the wonderful “Projecting Grief” team, Dad, who along with my Mum ran The Rocking Horse Shop near York for 40 years, shares how creativity became his refuge when Sam died aged just 21, following a rock-climbing accident on Millennium Eve.
For Dad, the act of creating holds a profound healing power. He had always found solace in the process of designing and making beautiful wooden rocking horses. Dad’s craftsmanship provided distraction from the pain & grief of losing his son, it transforms into an exquisite and unique wooden toy that will bring joy to young riders for decades.
Perhaps naturally, the effect of sudden & shocking death has been a preoccupation all my adult life. I was 19 years old when Sam died and as climbing & backpacking partners, shared owners of a very knacky Peugeot and good friends, his death was devastating for me. Despite good family and friends, the sense of isolation and emptiness felt terrible. The long and painful process of learning to truly 'live' (not just survive), without my brother Sam by my side, changed the course of my life completely.
Once we'd got through the first few years, my way to avoid being engulfed by grief was to move countries. I moved to the South of France and created a new life, working first as a waitress then bilingual secretary and finally as Editorial Assistant for a political journalist. It was hard on my parents, especially since my sister also emigrated (in her case permanently) but we all remain close emotionally. You can't run away from this type of pain but you can shock yourself out of the grind of survival.
One of my most treasured creations is this very website CraftCourses. Started at my kitchen table in 2011, with the mission to connect people with skilled craftspeople and artisans all across the UK, the whole thing was my late Mum's idea.