The first Ministry of Sound intern to be selected from the Josh Edmonds Memorial Scheme will start work in July of this year.
Lewis Murphy is currently in his 3rd year of a radio production course at the University of Gloucestershire and is the first person to be chosen for what will be an annual award. Â The standard of applicants was very high and a difficult choice had to be made from our shortlist. Â But we all feel that Lewis is the ‘man for the job’ and we’re Â really really excited to be able to offer him this opportunity.
Lewis is particularily Â interested in radio production and has hosted and produced a weekly show for students at his university. He has also had a weekly two hour slot on Cheltenham based Drum&Bass radio Undergroundsoundz. Â His ambition is to have his own podcast up and running with the content being from entirely Â new or Â unknown and unsigned Â producers and DJ’s. Â For the future he would like to present his own radio show or work for a specialist music show or station.
Lewis is Â a very talented and enthusiastic young man, his passion for music (particularly drum & bass) and his independence of spirit is very similar to Josh’s and we hope he will get as much out of working at MoS as Josh did.
Lewis told us he was both honoured and overjoyed to be the first to receive the award.Â “The prospect of the internship feels like a reward at the end of my degree and is a big step in the right direction for me, allowing me to develop as a person as well as within my career. The combination of my passion along with my creative drive motivates me to use this incredible opportunity to its full potential, making sure I do it justice. Â I look forward to meeting and working with everyone at the Ministry of Sound.”
MoS chief Lohan Presencer saidÂ â€œWe are extremely pleased to have secured a quality intern for MoS who will reflect the attributes we saw from Josh during his tenure with our organisation.Â We wish Lewis the best of luck and we will provide him with Â support and development during his placementâ€
So good luck Lewis and we hope that you’ll keep us updated with your time at MoS.
How nice – Â how very gratifying that our film has been awarded first prize in the Best Local Film category of the Stroud Community TV Awards.
We are very honoured to be recognised in this way if only because it helps us (as a society) to talk about stuff that most people will want to avoid. Â At the time of Josh’s death and on the day of his funeral I really don’t think we had any idea of of the impact making a film about the event would have on us and on the people who have watched it. Â Â But in documenting our farewell to Joshua, Beyond Goodbye has shown how important it is to take charge (as best one can) of the funeral arrangements for a loved one.
This idea of “reclaiming the farewell” as James Showers puts it, is becoming quite common place now and we can see that a film about one such funeral is quite fitting. Â For too long the funeral industry has had too much control over what makes a good funeral and in the process have obscured what the ritual is really all about. Â The funeral doesn’t need to be the final act or a way of achieving closure after someone dies – on the contrary, if we see it as the first step of a new journey – a journey into and through grief, then the funeral becomes a much more meaningful rite of passage and one that will aid us immensely through very difficult moments in the rest of our lives. Â At least that’s what we’ve found and we are very pleased that our film has found wider audiences, that others have been similarly moved.
Some quotes from the organisers
Andy Freedman, Head of Cirencester College Media Department and a judge in this category said of the film:Â â€œProfoundly moving; unique, original and a significant piece of work. A range of skillful techniques used to create a extraordinarily affectingÂ film.â€
David Pearson of award-winning Arturi films and a judge for SCTV, said:Â â€œA brave and compelling account of something most people avoid discussing. It is everything good documentaries should be: revealing, effecting, moving and making the viewer see something from a different perspective.â€
Thanks to Philip Booth of SCTV who helped organise the awards, online casino which I’m sure are set to become established as significant date in the Stroud arts calendar. Â Â SCTV already has links to over 700 locally made films which is an amazing tribute to the talent that exists here in the Five Valleys. Apollo Cinema next year Philip?
Our thanks also go to Simon Ffrench on camera, Marc Hatch for sound, and photography by Fred Chance and Briony Campbell, but for whom we wouldn’t have such a splendid record of Josh’s funeral.
Last week we survived (is that the right word) the second anniversary of Joshâ€™s death.
Two years ago last Wednesday 16th January Josh was riding along the Ho Chi Minh Highway, a couple of days out of Hanoi and on his way south. Then â€“ accident â€“ we are still not precisely clear what happened â€“ but in a second his life was gone.
That was two years ago and still itâ€™s hard to believe the reality of our lives. Each morning is still a trial â€“ one of having face yet again the enormity of the tragedy â€“ to wake and be brought face to face for the umpteenth time that Josh is no more and that our family of five is now so deplete. All made worse Â in the days leading up to his â€œanniversaryâ€ or his â€˜death dayâ€™ as we struggle but want to call it.
Just what does this particular day hold that the others donâ€™t? Do we really want to mark it was we would celebrate a â€˜birthdayâ€™? We know that many bereaved parents really dread the day and hate the idea that the anniversary of their childâ€™s death should in anyway be separated out from all the other terrible days of our lives. Its only a day, one moment in time that often bears no importance to the actual death and who invented time anyway.
But we think they are important. Last Wednesday, on Josh’s ‘deathday’, we met with Joe and Rosa and had lunch at one of his favorite restaurants in Borough Market, near where he used to work at the Ministry of Sound. We remembered Josh, considered how our lives had changed and made plans for our trip to Vietnam later this year. We placed the card his friends from the Ministry had sent at the end of the table and drank a toast to him and to us. This was our own private ritual, important for us to come together on a significant date and to recognize jointly what we all go through everyday individually. We canâ€™t always be together but if there are times when we can make an ordinary day special and shared with love, then surely joshâ€™s birthday and his deathday are those. The ritual is nothing if not the coming together in an act of shared remembering.
But what was also really comforting about the day were the number of emails, cards and text messages we got â€“ (such a relief from all the well intentioned but disturbing â€˜happy christmassesâ€™) and weâ€™d like to share some of these simply beautiful heartfelt messages now â€“
A card from one of Joshâ€™s old school friends â€“
â€œAnother year is upon us and although the passing days bring closer the realisation of what it means to be me without Josh, they dont make it any easier. This is a difficult day not just because the world lost Josh but because we are all reminded how fast and relentlessly life goes on…..â€
and another â€“
â€œI think about you often and your life reminds me to live mine the way I want to and not let things hold me backâ€
From one of Rosaâ€™s friends
â€œI am always here for you. These last couple of years I cant even begin to imagine how difficult it has really been and I am here for you every step of the way”
From a friend of ours-
“You will soon be waking to another day, another month, another year without Josh. Have been thinking about you and how much Josh accomplished in his 22 years of life….and how much you have accomplished in his name and memory in the 2 years since he died……..”
From another bereaved parent
â€œthese anniversaries are awful days, we shouldnt have to have them in our diaries, it all just sucks. I will light a candle for Joshua tonight ….â€
From a friend whose daughter was born at the same time as Josh
â€œthinking of you all we will light a candle for josh tonight and leave it burning till morningâ€
From a neighbour
â€œJust to tell you that we are thinking of you both as we come up to the second anniversary of Josh’s death. It must be an acutely difficult time for you and all the family. I know you will get support from each other. How to keep going when these things happen so randomly? Its impossible to answer these questions. Just let me know if you want to get out for a walk and a talk anytime.â€
These messages have given our family so much strength and really have made a difference. Jane was reminded of the day of Joshâ€™s funeral when she felt her heart would break but realized that she felt safe and held by the love of everyone present.
So much has changed since Josh died. We are changed along with the slow dawning that the pain of losing a child is like no other. Like love, and grief is in the end all about love, itâ€™s a pain that canâ€™t be regulated, medicated, reasoned with or got over. But with the passing of time we are beginning to accept our new lives without Josh, and his absence is easier to live with. But this is a slow slow process and has no timetable. It will be what will be.
So two years on what has shifted? Gradually the fear and anger that is actually a normal part of grief and has at times led people to avoid us, has lessened. And that sense of isolation, which has so much to do with being locked into the moment of Josh life and death while everyone elseâ€™s moves on, that too has dissipated and we are touched and thankful to our friends old and new who have found the courage to stay alongside us on our grieving journey.
Our story, our website, our Josh have been featured in a new on line magazine ‘More to Death’.
The first issue is published this month and is free to download. Â In fact its an extremely easy and accessible read – just click on this link and your there. Â Lots of interesting stuff but our article “Grief and the Internet” is on pages 34 to 39.
An extract …
â€œPeople donâ€™t really die on lineâ€. Â Itâ€™s three months after the funeral and Jessica, a long standing friend of our son Joshua, has come to see us. Â Although close playmates through out their childhood, they had grown apart since we moved away from London, their friendship still strong but mainly exchanged via Facebook.Â Â They probably hadnâ€™t seen each other in the flesh for over a year when Josh was killed in a road accident whilst travelling in SE Asia.Â He was 22.Â Now we are standing by Joshâ€™s tree, a young copper beech, planted in his memory and for which Jessica had performed a song she had specially composed for the occasion and which talks of her sadness of not making more of an effort to stay in touch.Â We share her regrets but in her remark we also realise that in some ways, life after death on the internet is not that much different from life before. Joshâ€™s Facebook page for instance is still very active; although he can no longer contribute, his on-line identity is still such that messages to him and postings on his â€˜wallâ€™ are an almost everyday occurrence. …..
Yes its happened – the Josh Edmonds Memorial Scheme is now LIVE!
What’s it about – well its a link up between CirencesterÂ College where Josh did his A levels and the Ministry of Sound where he worked for a number of years. The Josh Edmonds Memorial Scheme (let’s call it JEMS for short!) is an annual award to any young person in Gloucestershire to work as an intern at MoS.
In honour of Josh’s own short careerÂ JEMS will give an opportunity for someone like him to follow in his footsteps and get a toe hold in the music industry.
So proud and thanks go to Andy Freedman at Cirencester College for hosting the scheme and to Lynsey Johnson (head of HR at MoS) and Lohan Presencer (CEO at MoS).
Lohan told us Josh “was a tragic loss to his friends at MoS. Hopefully this placement will give someone the same opportunities that Josh had and continue his memory”
I’m not going to say anything about this beautiful film – just watch and you’ll get the point. We are so pleased that Josh did not die from hate, or violence, in war or from torture or brutality, from pride or hunger, from zealotry or self loathing. I think he would have loved this!
Itâ€™s held every year on the 1st November and is one of Mexicoâ€™s more well-known public holidays.Images of brightly coloured masks, skulls and skeletons dancing to street music in riotous celebration are what come to mind.
Somewhere between Hallowean and Thanksgiving, its an opportunity for families to remember their dead, both personal and well known public figures.
Last week, Jane and I attended The Dying Matters annual Day of the Dead conference in London.
Iâ€™ve just downed tools at the end of a long edit for a BBC 2 series covering a year in the life of Claridges, an exclusive hotel in the heart of London.Â Â Â Â Weâ€™ve missed a number of deadlines but 12 o clock on Thursday 1st November is absolutely solid one â€“ no more extensions â€“ thatâ€™s it ..Â finito!Â Â But its now 12.30 and weâ€™re late.Â Jane and IÂ are hurrying round the corner of the British Museum looking for the venue of the Dying Matters conference held to coincide with Mexicoâ€™s famous day.Â Â Â Weâ€™ve been invited to screen the film of Joshâ€™s funeral but Iâ€™m still not sure exactly what kind of occasion this is.Â Â These days I find that it really doesnâ€™t matter that I have no idea what we might be getting into â€“ should I be nervous about speaking in front of a huge audience, are they professionals, charity workers, or bereaved parents like us.Â It seems Joshâ€™s death has given me the wherewithal not to care about these things.
We arrive in a large room with a low false ceiling still relatively empty â€“ strip lights, three large screens along one wall and around a dozenÂ round tables decorated with homemade sculptures modeled on those familiar images of hollowed eye sockets and gaping jaw lines â€“ there are bowls of sweets and plates of biscuits with similar blood dripping themes.Â
In one corner we find the table reserved for speakers.Â Â Â Jane will easily fall into conversation with her neighbour;Â I enjoy a moment of my own silence among the gathering audience, now numbering close to a hundred. Â It feels comfortable to be here. Â Thereâ€™s a growing buzz of chatter which I am not part of, but then I have always liked that moment when as a child I would drift offÂ into my own reverieÂ secure in theÂ knowledge that the world was carrying on around me.
Itâ€™s a packed programme of speakers and presentations, power points and sincere deliveries â€“ but the messages pass me by. Â Â Something about volunteers to hold the hands of the dying, pathways to a good death, the launch of a form for funeral wishes, a film called â€œI didnâ€™t want thatâ€ which I didnâ€™t quite get. Â Â Then Jane and I are standing by the podium, a little apprehensive now aboutÂ introducing something of a more personal significance.
‘Beyond Goodbye’ has been seen by quite few people â€“ maybe hundreds, perhaps a thousand or so â€“ not exactly a blockbuster but gratifyingly, it does have an audience. Â Itâ€™s been on this site and on Vimeo for nearly a year now, and weâ€™ve had a load of feedback as to how moving and comforting the film is.Â Â But this has been from people we either know well, orÂ who are complete strangers.Â Â In both these cases people have made a conscious choice to view the film. Â Â Now as I stand here, it somehow feels like we are about to inflict our story and our grief on an audience who canâ€™tÂ escape. Â Â And I canâ€™t escape my doubt â€¦Â of what value is this film to people who never knew Josh. Â These were professionalÂ funeral directors, academics and educationalists, casino online social and care workers, concerned surely with changing policy and attitudes towards death and dying. Â Why should they want to identify with our grief amongst all others in their lives or the world in general.
Then there were those nagging thoughts of what Josh himself would have made of this.Â Â Â Â Â All those photos of him on the screens â€“ 3 times over â€“ his coffin, his parachute jump, his aliveness and his deadness. Â Â Could he, would he, be happy with this spectacle? Â Â In the dark, Iâ€™m not so much looking at a film, as reliving the past two years. Â I can feel the trickle of a tear on my cheek.Â Â I brush it away along with thoughts that in exposing him to the world, of exposing his death to all and sundry, we are doing him a disservice. Â Is there in all this, something shameful about dying? Â Something so wrong, culpable, especially at such a young age. Â And do we as Joshâ€™s grieving family carry that shame. Â Is that what Iâ€™m feeling now?
I do NOT want the lights to come back on.Â Â Â Â Â But they do, in a muted silence followed by a gentle gathering of applause.Â Â As I stare fixedly at a paint crack on the wall, I imagine all eyes are on us.Â Â Â Â Another of the speakers on our table hands me a note â€“ â€œIâ€™m glad Iâ€™m not on nextâ€. Â Â The audience has been moved. Â Â They have got to know Josh, and us, and his friends and they have found us real. Â Â That if anything is the power of showing our film to a live audience, (as opposed to a remote, on line, disconnected viewer) – it makes our lives more real, more accepting of our reality without Josh.
When the note giver does speak she introduces herself as Dr Kate Granger,Â an Elderly Medicine Registrar and the author of two books – The Other Side and The Bright Side.Â Â Â Â She then tells us that 14 months ago she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive sarcoma which will end her life before too long.Â Â Â Now that she is both patient and doctor, Granger explains that she wants to help health care workers to better understand what being a patient is really like, and how a doctorâ€™s behaviour, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, can impact massively on the people they look after.Â Â Â Â Her books recount her personal battle with control, how and when to relinquish it, but Granger herself was an inspiration with her total openness about dying and what it means to her.
I must have learnt something about openness when it comes to death as my question to her, â€˜how long have you got?â€™ comes quite easily.Â Â Â Â Â The answer was in effect â€“ anytime soon â€“ the average life expectancy of people with this diagnosis is 14 months.Â Â Â Most would put Grangerâ€™s composure in the face of such tragic circumstance, as manifest of an extraordinary well of individual courage and positive thinking.Â Â Â Â But its also true, and as she remarked, itâ€™s those family and friends close to her that are more distressed than she.Â Â Â Â I can understand this.Â Â Â Â The perceived nightmare is far worse than the actual nightmare. Â Â Â Â If the doctors she wants to enlightened are death denying (possibly seeing a patients death as their own personal failure), we too know about a grief denying complex that seems to affect so many of our own acquaintances.
Dying Matters exists because of these denials. Â â€œLetâ€™s talk about itâ€ the website almost screams. Â Â But it feels we have a long way to go before we can have our own â€œDay of the Deadâ€ here in Britain.Â Â Â Â If we donâ€™t go to next years event with Dying Matters, perhaps youâ€™d like to join us for an evening of margueritas, encilladas, and possibly a sombero laden guitarist crooning â€˜guantanameraâ€ here in Chalford Hill.
8 Nov 2012
Dying Matters have now put Beyond Goodbye on their front page along with a nice article about Jane’s contribution – check it out here. Â Â They’ve called it ‘Turning Grief into Positive Action’
Last month Jane was interviewed by BBC Radio Gloucestershire as part of a radio series examining what happens to somebody’s social media presence, after they die.Â Â Â Â You can listen to the full interview here.
And listen out for the song “Joshua’s tree” written and performed by Jessica Carmody Nathan
This summer Jane and I visited Jura, that enigmatic Hebridean island just to the west ofÂ the Mull of Kintyre. Â Jura is perhaps best known forÂ its â€˜papsâ€™, three breast shaped mountains that dominate its skyline, and from whose summits you can experience some of the most spectacular views of Scotlandâ€™s highlands and islands.
Possibly lesser known is the fact that, in the years after the 2nd World War,Â George Orwell found refuge on Jura and it was here that he wrote 1984.Â Â (Orwell changed his original title for the book â€˜Last man in Europeâ€™ Â simply by reversing the last two numbers of the year he finished the book 1948)Â Â I guess its debatable which of Juraâ€™s illustrious visitors, Orwell or St Colomba who passed by on his way from Ireland in 563 or thereabouts, to spread the Christianic message, had the greater impact on modern life. Â At school I read 1984 from cover to cover â€“ canâ€™t say the same of the bible.
You could say that both are now outdated. Â There are just two churches left on Jura and one of those has been converted to a holiday home, which is where Jane and I stayed while we were there, along with our good friends Alison and Aggie.
As always Joshua was with us. Â Here are some words and pictures that reflect our time on Jura.
Church You stand alone Above the track Between one house and another. From across the bay I can see only mist Swimming towards the dawn That will always change with the tide OfÂ being.
Jura You float in the must of strange weeds Drifting upwards like strings of Semen Broken, dispersed and afraid of Belonging To the swarm that begins and ends with Every dying Breathe
Bell It must have been an age Since last you Spoke to those who cared To hear the news of distant wars Perhaps sixty years or more When Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty four
Ungetatable He said when he found Barnhill At the end of the path Past deserted forests of a thousand Crucifixes hung with children Blindfolded and redacted Forbidden from Crying out Pain to pain
Corrievreckan Baptismal whirlpool When Colomba came with the child On the way to Iona Was it already mute Never to be mine Never to be yours Never really to make it Through the night
Beinn an Oir Barren, broken breast With your crusts of scree Mecca for many and I Who would break an ankle For just one peek Behind Your veiled Horizons
Watch me boy, Watch me dive below Dark brown blackish Waters of Jura’s lochans Stain glass shards slipping through my fingers Naked now Pulling me closer to that Cloistered void Called death
How is it to openly share your grief and your pain with others; others, who like you are also recently bereaved.Â Â Â I had wondered what it would be like to spend the weekend cloistered away with parents whose children had also died.Â Â Â Â Â What would be it be like to be in a room potentially overflowing with grief and sadness, a room full of so many other tragic stories, a room where dry eyes would be the exception rather than the rule.
The short answer is a weekend full of kindness, much patience, understanding, even laughter, and an extraordinary sense of safetyâ€¦ but also very, very draining.Â Â Â This is what Jane and I experienced last weekend at The Compassionate Friends annual gathering.
The Compassionate Friends has been going for over 40 years in which time its work of supporting bereaved parents has answered a need right across the globe.Â If a charity has a USP it will be its ethos of honouring and remembering each child by name and in helping the parent to develop and maintain a â€˜continuing bondâ€™Â with the dead child. Â Â And unlike other charities members ofÂ TCF are all bereaved – it is not run by people who ‘don’t know’ telling us how to cope.
TCF has local support groups up and down the country that meet regularly, but once a year there is a â€œgatheringâ€™ for a weekend of collective remembering and ritual.
Grief is a weird emotion.Â Â If only because it is actually very hard to pin down and it means so much more to different people.Â Â Â It is now 19 months and 27 days since Josh died and in that time we have experienced more ups and downs, more conflicting and confusing feelings and thoughts than I would have thought possible for the human psyche to bear.Â Â There have been times when I have completely and absolutely forgotten that Josh has died, only for that â€œharsh realityâ€ to come crashing back into my consciousness. Â There was a day recently when, after a long cycle ride with a friend, I realized that I had gone a whole eight hours without thinking of Josh at all.Â Â Â Â Â What meeting with other bereaved parents does is to reaffirm that guilt, anxiety, loss of confidence, extreme recklessness, bad manners, are all normal behaviour of all human beings, only exaggerated big time for people who mourn.Â Â Â Â The TCF provide a space for that excess to be contained and to be made safe.
Jane and I were met at Norhampton station by Anna, a young 23 year old whose sister Jessica had been killed crossing the road five years ago.Â Â As I sat in the back of the car, listening to the ease of her conversation with Jane, it became apparent that Anna belonged to that generous section of humanity, that was good at listening, people who on first encounter would ask â€œ…and who are you here for?”
One of the problems that face bereaved parents in particular is how to find acceptance among their friends and family for such extreme emotions and behaviours which will last perhaps for the rest of their own lives.Â When a child dies we as parents are fundamentally and radically changed, but this is not perhaps recognized, particularly in the culture where death is so often not talked about, where the funeral is seen as closure rather than as a rite of passage to a new and difficult period in our lives, and where mourning is seen in terms of a discrete time zone, something that we go through and then â€˜move onâ€™.
So when Jane and I walked into the hotel for the TCF â€˜gatheringâ€™ we left all this behind.Â Â Â Â We were joined by our friends, Amanda and Gillian whose sons. Conrad and Bruno lost their lives in a coach crash in Thailand last year.
At times I did find the atmosphere intense but there was always space to get away.Â Â Â The weekend gave us focus with TCF providing a number of variously themed discussion groups .. death by suicide, sudden death, death abroad, the symbolism of tattoos– there was a fathers only group which I made a bee line for.Â Â Â Men as we know find it difficult to express painful emotion, and women are often left shouldering much of the burden of grief.
The sessions were perhaps a little short, discussion sometimes had just got going when it was time to move to the next event in the programme.
But in a way the specifics of any one session really didnâ€™t matter.Â Whatever the subject, they all equally gave opportunity to meet talk and share.Â Â Â Â In the afternoon Jane and I co-hostedÂ a discussion on losing a child abroad, in which we showed our film of Joshuaâ€™s funeral.Â Â A tenuous link perhaps between the importance of creating meaningful ritual and the issues arising from a death on foreign soil, but we all found common link in expressing the pain of loss and in discussing ways to survive it.
The TCF is primarily a parents support group but it has of late been trying to develop its services for those whose brother or sister has died.Â Â Â Although small in number, it was this sibling group who for me made two of the more significant contributions to the weekend.Â Â Â Â Â Adam Fouracre gave the keynote speech in which he outlined the work of his charity Â â€œStand Against Violenceâ€.Â Â Â Adamâ€™s brother died in a drink fuelled attack late one night and the charity now campaigns in schools and young offender institutions.Â Â Â Using his powerful film depicting a reconstruction of the attack Adam is trying to raise awareness among young people of the choices they make when ordinary youthful high spirits turn to deadly violence.
The closing session of the weekend was a bit, shall we say, old fashioned, a beautiful candle lighting ceremony for all our love ones as their names appeared on the screen. Â Â Then a second contribution from the siblings.Â Â Â Theyâ€™d spent the previous afternoon creating some very wonderful poetry which they read out in unison and to quite powerful effect.Â Â Finally it was a bereaved brother, Ben whose song with its words, ‘its OK its OK its OKâ€¦’ Â brought me closest to emotional breakdown.