Stay Steady Striving
Stay Steady Striving
This week's article is dedicated to the life of Bradley Welsh. I was fortunate enough to have had the chance to get to know him in recent years and observe the inspirational impact that he had on so many people, not least through the work he did at his community Holyrood Boxing Gym and the organisation that he co-founded - Edinburgh Helping Hands: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/helping-hands-make-a-difference-1-4723317
Thousands of people shared tributes last week on social media, and this was mine on Twitter:
'Difficult to find words to express the sadness today. It was a privilege to work alongside him @EdiHelpingHands + enjoy so much time @holyroodboxing and just spend time with one of the kindest men I have had the fortune to know. The world has lost such a hero'.
A little over one week on, the sense of sadness and the impact of this loss continues to sink in.
For those closest to him, particularly his young family, the devastation is almost impossible to quantify. Please click on the link below to read about one of the ways to support efforts to make sure that their future is as positive as it can possibly be:
You can also support (or continue to support) his work by telling people about the opportunities available for children and people of all ages at his community boxing gym on Edinburgh's Duddingston Road West, and also by attending the classes - if you haven't been before then why not give it a try, bring a friend or family member too. Whether you have tried a boxing fitness class before or not (just to confirm, no one ever gets hit!); I can highly recommend it as a way to boost confidence, motivation and all round mental and physical health. It is one of my favourite self care activities, and one which I regularly recommend to clients.
In the last few years, amongst other initiatives, Edinburgh Helping Hands have delivered free football and boxing classes for children (particularly for those that find it difficult to meet the rising costs of sports participation) as well as a community foodbank (which was a vital support for many people in the battle against problems caused by inequality). There will be a team of people continuing this work, so why not join and give some time doing some volunteering?
Last year I wrote an article called Relationships Last Forever. It is about the power and importance of relationships, particularly for those experiencing difficulties in life who often do not have a role model to learn from. It features a story of how a teacher spent time and effort to support a young person, helping him to learn important practical and emotional skills. Many years on and long after the death of his teacher, the now middle aged man still feels the importance of the relationship, stating that 'he is still with me, he will always be with me'.
Although the details vary from person to person, I think this best describes the feelings that many people will always have about their relationship with Brad, including me.
Thank you Brad, you will always be in my actions and in my thoughts.
Relationships last forever
'We had to face the wall the whole time Match of the Day was on. And the really cruel thing was that we could still hear everything. It was awful. I would cry myself to sleep whenever he did it'.
55 year old television presenter and ex-international football star Ian Wright this week shared some of his life experience in an interview for the Players' Tribune (https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/ian-wright-earning-my-smile) which was also reported on by the BBC (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/46357587).
He describes how, in the earlier years of his life in particular, he often struggled to manage his feelings and that this regularly led to him finding it difficult to negotiate the various challenges that he faced including his quest to progress through school and to finding employment, and with his football career. Anger and frustration and a lack of motivation and confidence regularly led to more challenges to negotiate. Fights were a regular part of life and he spent time in prison after not paying fines for driving offences.
As he reflects on his life now, enjoying a role as part of the presenting team for the famous weekly football show Match of the Day, he describes how the abuse he suffered as a child still affects him today. So much so that when he was first congratulated on securing the job by the lead presenter at the time, he stated that he 'nearly broke down crying'.
The experience that he describes which is mentioned in the opening paragraph of this article was a regular feature of a relationship with his step father. The impact of this psychological abuse, along with the other forms of abuse and neglect that he regularly had to contend with meant that facing stressful situations was an extremely regular occurrence.
As discussed in last week's NowCounselling blog article, the effect of this on overall health and wellbeing is not only acute but can also be chronic. Match of the Day represented pain and suffering for Ian Wright, the child. Now, many years on, for Ian Wright - the television presenter, successful record breaking footballer and father - the echoes of this trauma can still be felt at times.
Thankfully, the healing that he has been able to do mean that echoes are all that remain. And this is largely down to the relationship that he had with another man that also started during the earlier years of his life. He describes how Mr Pigden, a teacher that he met during the period of his life when he often cried himself to sleep at night and fought during the day, showed compassion and kindness and also taught him skills that were vital to him as he tried to make sense of the world around him. The safety that he felt in this relationship and the education that Mr Pigden offered meant that he was able to learn to manage anger, to learn to be patient, to be confident and take responsibility. He was also able to learn to communicate more effectively and to read and write.
Mr Pigden played such a vital role in Ian Wright's journey to healing from the impact of the adversity of an abusive relationship that the supportive and caring relationship that they have still lives powerfully with him today, despite him dying quite recently at the age of 95. The feelings associated with their relationship resonate far more powerfully than the painful echoes of his childhood trauma.
'The one man in particular who helped me through those dark times. He changed my life. He was the first man who showed me any kind of love. He is still with me. he will always be with me'.
Trauma can and does affect us all, and the relationships that we are in have the power to help us to heal. We can never erase scars from these wounds, but we can take action to help those around us to heal theirs, as well as healing our own. Everyone has the power to create relationships that last forever, everyone has the power to be a Mr Pigden.