This is a quilt. But no ordinary quilt. Neatly sown into the fabric are sixteen squares. They are the shirts and tee shirts of Josh Taylor, a young man of a similar age to our Josh, a young man who like our Josh was also into drum’n’bass, but who also loved the outdoor life and watersports in particular. And a young man who like Josh died far too young.
We come to know about Josh Taylor’s death via Lewis Murphy, the first successful candidate of the Josh Edmonds Memorial scheme. Lewis was one of Josh Taylor’s best friends, a fact not known to us when he applied for the scheme and a chance to work as an intern at the Ministry of Sound where our Josh had been a video producer. A strange irony then that Lewis should find himself benefitting from two music loving Josh’s unable themselves to fulfill their ambitions, while we have had the chance to meet and become friends with his friends parents. As we have got to know Debbie and Nick Taylor, we’ve shared our stories and our sorrows and our different ways of remembering our children and of taking them forward with us in our lives. The quilt is just one of the ways Josh’s family have of continuing that bond they have with him as Debbie explains : …..
A friend who I first met when Josh and her son started school together came to visit a few months after Josh’s death. At the time she and her family were living in China but were soon going to be moving to the United States. She told me that she had recently had memory quilts made up for her young daughters, made from clothing that represented her daughters’ years in China, i.e. T shirts from events, clubs, schools, etc. and asked if it was something we might consider doing with some of Josh’s clothing. We had to decide fairly quickly as it would be made in China and she was only going to be there for another few months. She showed us photos of one her daughter’s quilts which we thought looked amazing and it seemed such a positive thing to do with Josh’s clothes.
KiteRight’s founder Gary Hawkins acknowledged Josh’s skills of “producing eye catching simple designs and almost spooky knack of knowing what you were thinking and developing into a concept were outstanding. Without him and his logos and designs, KiteRight wouldn’t exist how it does today.”
Josh Taylor’s legacy lives on in the branding of this important charity but many other designs of his also found their way onto his t-shirts. Debbie and Nick now had the difficult task of deciding which ones to put onto his quilt …
We selected 16 for the quilt and they all have their own significance and story to tell. Some are Josh’s own designs, some are places that he worked, some are of his favourite brands and some are just simply his favourites that he chose to wear often. One T shirt has his name and dates of birth and death, which was designed by his good friend Carl from University and was worn by many of Josh’s friends on the beach memorial walk and at his funeral.
As a tribute to Josh, at 5pm on the afternoon of his funeral his friends took their surf boards to Branksome Chine beach for a “paddle-out”, where they formed a circle of boards in the surf. Josh’s Dad Nick and brother Joe also joined them and Nick said a few words in memory of Josh after which flowers were scattered within the circle. The rest of the evening was spent at Branksome Chine beach bar where more of Josh’s friends gathered to pay tribute to him with some of his favourite drum & base tunes. Josh was also a local drum & base DJ known as ‘Grafik’.
These of course are necessary and important first responses to a death, especially such an untimely one, and the Taylor’s feel honoured and comforted to have had such a public display of affection for their son. Whatever their form they are time honoured rituals that help to support families during the first stages of their grief – more important in a way that it is young people turning out in memory of one who has died too young and too soon. But that was two years ago and as many bereaved parents will tell you, the tide of sympathy can soon withdraw and we are left alone with our memories and our sadness. And like the Taylors many of us have found our own creative way of filling the void. For Debbie and Nick theirs was to commission the quilt to remember and to continue the bond they have with Josh.