Summer Diary 11
A Pause for Thought, or Count your Blessings.
With the Open coming up at Muirfield, I hope you will excuse me posting this golf story. Some people say that golf is a nice walk ruined. I wonder if they ever tried to play it and if they did, if they were ever any good. I used to think it was a game for old men, until I eventually tried it. I got bitten by the bug when I was about 20 years old. Along with my two best mates, who were several years older, we started off hacking round the local cliff top pitch and putt at Hengistbury Head and then graduated to the municipal courses at Bournemouth and Christchurch. We were fiercely competitive, playing through wind and rain and within a year I was getting round in under 100. I couldn’t work out how one of them was progressing even quicker than me until his fiancé let on that he had been sneaking out after work to put in extra practice rounds! I got a shoulder injury and had to pack it in. Just as well, otherwise my wife to be would have been another golfing widow.
I am lucky (and astonished) that through Hotspur HQ, Fansided and Newsnow, my blogs reach thousands of people. I am not normally one to take personal use of this site to make pleas for charity but I hope you will agree that this is a heart-warming and thought provoking story and if as a result, you decide to make a donation to Bournemouth hospital’s cancer charities, it will have done some good. The people involved do not know I am writing this.
Ben Harvey died a year ago. He was a young married man from Bournemouth who was a really talented and promising golfer, having played with the England squad as a youth. From an early age his hard working Mum Sue and Dad Pat used to take him all round the country to competitions, lovingly and willingly giving up so much of what would have been their spare time. Ben so very nearly made it as a professional, meeting and playing alongside many of today’s top names, including Justin Rose.
I knew Ben via his Mum and Dad as a child. He was a similar age to my nephew and we used to swap video games in the early days of Super Mario Golf on the Nintendo. Years later when he had grown up and I still hadn’t, he passed on his PlayStation shoot ‘em up collection to me. He had grown into a strapping figure of a man and joined his Dad’s roofing business, finally deciding that he was not quite going to earn the guaranteed income that he needed to bring up a family from his beloved golf. He had grown up so much that when they came to do some work on our roof, I didn’t recognise him. Built like Tarzan! He met a girl and got married.He started to feel unwell and over a period repeatedly went to the doctor with stomach problems, which were variously dismissed as nothing serious. He was eventually diagnosed with bowel cancer the week his wife gave birth to their son. It was the aggressive kind and he was given a slim chance of surviving. He actually survived for a year. Ben’s family and friends arranged a charity golf event. He was determined to survive long enough to attend it and did so. Harry Redknapp, the then Tottenham manager, was one of the celebs who attended and sat the whole evening with Ben.
This was all happening as I suffered the burst tumour that took out my pituitary gland and blinded my right eye, followed by 3 strokes that left me with a weakened heart. Ben bravely went through many chemotherapy sessions and maintained as normal a life as possible, continuing to help out his Dad. I survived. Ben didn’t. Somehow I feel guilty about that. He had his whole life in front of him. At least I’d lived most of one already. My type of tumour often returns. In the meantime, Ben remains an inspiration and I’m going to make the most of every day. You never know what’s around the corner. I suggest you count your blessings next time things seem rough and do the same.
Last week was the first anniversary of Ben’s passing. Sue and Pat arranged a charity event in celebration of his life. It raised £27,000 for Bournemouth hospital’s cancer charities. One of the items auctioned was the golf bag used by Justin Rose in winning this year’s US Open. He autographed it and donated it to the cause as soon as he came off the course. I am sure they would be delighted if on reading this, you decided to add to the total by making a donation yourself to Bournemouth hospital and said it was on Ben Harvey’s behalf. Its charity’s details are on the web – Here [Leave a message, 'In memory of Ben Harvey']
Thanks Mum and Dad
This all reminds me of how thin the line is between mega success and being a contender. The unsung role that thousands of exceptional parents play in supporting their really talented children in pursuing their dreams. In sport, music and the arts only a talented, hard-working, lucky few can make it to the very top. It takes a lot of time-and a hell of a lot of money but these Mums and Dads don’t begrudge a penny or a minute. Andy Murray’s Mum’s involvement in his success is well documented but there are many more whose efforts go unrewarded other than seeing the happiness of their offspring as they try to make it. We have all heard of the pushy parents who can make their kid’s lives a misery but for every one of those, there are couples like Tom Daley’s Dad and Mum and Sue and Pat who do nothing but support their kids. I have been lucky to know some fantastic kids from brilliant families. Lewis is our God Daughter’s big brother. Thirteen years old now. Excels at all sports and has been selected to do his swimming training at Millfield, the famous sporting school. Fantastic support from his parents Elizabeth and Chris. That’s another heart-warming story for a few years’ time when he is competing in the Olympics. Hats off to them all.
Thank you for reading this article and for anything you can contribute to support this very worthy charity.