Joe’s doing a Tri for TCF …..

Joe and Josh - New Years Day 2009 - just before plunging into the sea at Coney Island New York

Ok, a ‘tri’ is a Triathlon and ‘TCF’ is The Compassionate Friends…  and on 23rd September Josh’s brother Joe is competing in the Brighton Tri and hoping to raise £500 for TCF.

This is actually big news because Joe is a truly sporty fellow, loves a challenge, loves to compete, and loves to raise money for charity.     But much of this endeavour has been sadly lacking in his life over the past year and a half, and his plunge into Brighton Marina will be the first such sporty/fundy thingy he will have taken part in since Josh died.

So in memory of his brother, we wish Joe every success in his day out to the south coast.     We hope the weather is fine, the sea is calm (and warm) and that the hills around Brighton flatten out a bit.      But most of all we hope Joe reaches his stated goal of finishing in the top ten.

And you too can share in his glory by cheering him on his way and supporting him in his (actually far more difficult task) of collecting that 500 quid.      Please go the Just Giving page by clicking here and donating whatever you can.  Thank you so much.   As that well known east end grocer once said “every little helps.”

The Compassionate Friends is primarily a support group for bereaved parents but the money Joe raises will go towards developing its work with siblings who have lost a brother or sister.      This is a new development for TCF and is very much needed.       For more info about TCF click here.







Tom and Becca’s wedding

6 days to go and two of Josh’s best friends are going to get married.

So what so special about that?

Get out of here …  you can’t be serious!

Mr Thomas Cockshot and Ms Becca Hyde go back a long way with our Josh – like they were all at school together and Westley Farm where Tom lives has always been a favorite haunt of all (and more) of the Chalford crew.     And the said Cockshot and Hyde are getting married next Saturday – where?

– at Westley Farm of course (actually I understand that they are already spliced and this is a damn good excuse for a party!)

– and what is also really special is that Tom and Becca have specifically invited and made a space for Josh and for us his family – and that the whole thing will take place in the field below Josh’s Tree which we think is really wonderful.

A lot of Josh’s friends are going to be there so its going to be a big moment for us and for them.

But the biggest moment will be for Tom and for Becca and all our thoughts are going to be with them on this special day – we wish you all the happiness in the world and lots of luck on your adventures together (off to California – or is it British Columbia – somewhere west coast with lots of trees!) Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for inviting us.

Oh I nearly forgot – Tom and Becca are going against convention and have forfeited the age old practice of conferring the husband’s name to the bride – all very modern – yeh but they’ve changed both their names to…. wait for it …. Westley!     hmmm … all the best Mr and Mrs Westley.   xxxx

And if that’s not modern enough here’s link to their wedding site where you can find out more about the day and donate to their special travel fund – gwan you know you want to…..   tom and becca wedding

the view from the tree overlooking westley farm






When they hear the words “radio four” and “play” all in the same breathe, many people seem to recoil with the speed and determination that even Mo Farrar would envy.     That’s unfortunate because they then miss many gems amongst which is a quite remarkable story that was broadcast last month.     Although a regular radio 4 listener, I actually missed the transmission and was only alerted to it by a member of The Compassionate Friends, a support group for bereaved parents.       I don’t know how I would have reacted to FOUR TREES DOWN FROM PONTE SISTO, if I had heard it before Josh’s death, but I like to think I would have been equally moved by what I now consider to be one of the best shows on radio … ever!        Here’s what the BBC blurb has to say about it –

“Twenty five years ago in Rome, an American student named Geoffrey Charde fell to his death from a wall above the river Tiber, late at night and with no witnesses, four trees down from Ponte Sisto. Since then, his mother, the poet Sharon Charde has been writing her way through all the dimensions of her son’s death; writing her way back to life through a series of poems that combine her fearless examination of specific details and events with deep philosophical insights into the close proximity of death within every aspect of life.”

Jane and I listened to the play on the way back from Scotland recently.    Potentially a distressing and painful experience, it was perhaps a slightly dangerous thing to do while driving one of Britains busiest motorways.    But we both actually found it quite comforting to hear bereavement dramatised in a way that seem to mirror so accurately much of what we have been going through since Josh died.    Hopefully you will find it as life enhancing as we have, though to have a box of tissues nearby wouldn’t go amiss … and do give yourself time – the play is 58 minutes.

FOUR TREES is no longer available from the BBC as a download but you can listen to it here (hope we’re not infringing copyright or anything) – unfortunately because of file sizes we’ve had to split it into two parts

click here to listen to the first part - FOUR TREES PART ONE

click here for the second part - FOUR TREES PART TWO

the links will take you to a new page – use your browsers back button to return for part two.


and these links are good to check out

Four Trees Down From Ponte Sisto (blog by Gregory Whitehead who adapted Sharon Charde’s poetry for radio and composed the sound design)

Sharon Charde’s biography (

Originally broadcast on 29th June 2012,  FOUR TREES DOWN FROM PONTE SISTO was  adapted and composed for radio by Gregory Whitehead.    Performed by Anne Undeland.   Producer Jeremy Mortimer.


Anne Undeland recording Four Trees Down

This Tree is Planted in Memory of You – by Claire Gale

The Gale Family have been a fantastic support for us since Josh died.     Holly was one of Josh’s best friends and Rosie is his sister Rosa’s best friend.       Claire is their mother who has written these words which Hollie read out at the time of the tree planting

Rosie Gale scatters some of Josh's ashes

This tree is planted in memory of you,

All you are, all you knew.

Every  leaf a person who loves you so much,

Memories rich, lives you have touched.

Every  branch an offer of support and hope,

As the days go by and we try to cope.

The  trunk is the strength that will help us stand,

For days, and years, hand in hand.

The roots that grow silently under the ground,

Pull us together, friends and family are bound.

And as each leaf buds, then falls from this tree,

You are close,

Always  young, always beautiful, always free.

This tree celebrates your life,

It offers hope and it offers trust,

We love you Josh.