Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The biggest game of rugby in the world. Ever.

Today, we are packing, preparing, doing.
Tomorrow we are driving.
Friday is when it all starts.

Leicester Tigers Stadium is at Welford Road, and that's where we will be for the entire 26 hours of the longest rugby match in the world.  By the end of the match, on Saturday lunchtime, it'll be done.  We will have been part of a world record attempt.  Hopefully, we'll have made it.  (You should be there.  There are tickets available on the door - £5! C'mon!)

What Alan Knell, Dave Allison, and 44 amazing players will have done, is to have raised a phenomenal amount of money for Scotty's Little Soldiers.  Currently they are on £43,000 and counting.

I have been thinking about this all week, against the backdrop of Drummer Lee Rigby's murder, against the backdrop of the news, the theories about Islamic fundamentalists, everything.  There is another Scotty Child now, whose name is Jack, who is 2, and who will grow up knowing that in every paper, in every place, there was a picture of his dead father, lying on the ground, a victim of a senseless religious based murder.  But he shouldn't just know that.  He should know about the flowers, about the faith that people showed, about the way that everyone came together.  He should know that he is special, because he is a Scotty Child and he is not alone.

I've talked about Scotty's a lot on this blog.  I have to.  They are an enormous part of the way that the AC is now a fully functioning child, able to laugh and play and cry and do everything that children do, and whilst he still does it with Rich in his mind all the time, he does it anyway now.  I have seen him paralysed with grief and fear.  I have seen him lost, and alone, and afraid.

Today he is excited.  The match starts on Friday, and he is over the moon to know that he will be there, in his Scotty top, and then in his new Scotty Rugby Shirt to walk out with the players.  J and I have ours ready, we are helping out with organising the witnesses and so on.  We'll be there, and awake, for the whole 26 hours.  Today, the AC is looking forward to seeing people pulling together to help Scotty's, to help other children know that they are not alone.

When Rich died, we lost him, the RAF, contact with his daughter, everything.  His family didn't stay in contact as they had said they would.  It was all gone.  But we had it easy - Rich and I weren't married so we lived in the town, not on the camp.  I had a mortgage, in my sole name, on the house that we still live in. The AC went to the same school, was supported by his friends, was cherished by our friends and family, kept his bedroom the same, his house, everything.  I kept my job, kept my house, and although things were very tight financially, we got through.

Other Scotty families aren't so lucky.  If the serving parent dies, the Forces have no option but to serve notice on the married accommodation. The children usually have to move from the camp school.  The surviving parent often loses her support network, the people who know what Forces life was like, often she has to move to an entirely new area if she is going to be dependent on social housing - she and her children will be returned to the area from which they moved into service accommodation, regardless of where that is. Everything goes, and in the midst of all of this is the crushing grief of why this is all going, why everything is changing - because Daddy didn't come marching home.

Events like this weekend are something that reaches out to the AC, and I think to the other families as well. It provides that sense of not being alone with this.  Of being with people who understand.  Of being with people who don't understand, because mercifully they haven't been there, but who want to help, who want to support.  People who will force their body through 26 hours of rugby to raise money to help my son and others like him.

I cannot ever thank these 44 people enough, nor yet Dave and Alan, nor yet the team of people who are helping.

It's not just that they are doing it, it's that they cared enough to want to, and that through caring that much, they really have put the smile back on my Scotty Child's face.