Those that know my story know that I had a very troubled childhood filled with pain and abuse. During those turbulent years I spent part of that time as a ward of social services. They put me in a group with other troubled youths and we we given the opportunity to do things that took us out of our everyday darkness.
We were taken on camping holidays, canal trips and did community projects such as painting and decorating youth centres etc. Those moments were among the times that gave my life a ray of hope, they took me away from fear and gave me laughter, joy and comradeship.
The group was run by an ex Royal Marine called Simon Mahoney, he became like a surrogate father to many of us. Talking, listening and always getting us to challenge our perceptions of ourselves. He planted seeds which have germinated and formed part of the foundation my character and made me the man that I am today. (Although as much as he tried he never got me into fishing, lol)
Over the years I had often thought about Simon, wondering where he is and if he was still alive. So you can imagine my joy when after 42 years and series of coincidences I was able to catch up with Simon again, he’s now totally blind and lives in Derbyshire.
We met for a Sunday lunch and as we ate he was having difficulty with the meal so I had to help him by cutting and guiding the food to his fork. He became embarrassed and very apologetic. I stopped him by letting him know that compared to what he had given me and the other boys it was an honour to he be able to help him. That brought a tear to both of us, it was so moving and emotional moment.
I was able to thank him for being a role model in my life and to let him know the impact he had on the darkness of my youth. We then spent time to sharing a memory or two. He laughed at the fact that I had become a police officer and expressed his joy (and surprise) that I had chosen an honourable path.
He said he often thought about the boys from those days and what had happened to them so to meet up with me and hear my journey had brought him great joy. It also felt good to let him know that I had done well too. I think we both felt a strong feeling of validation.
It just goes to to show that it’s never too late to show appreciation for people who have touched your life. I know without doubt that we have gained something from the day that will enrich us. We now have a friendship that has depth, history and a new found respect.
I’m hoping to find a forum where we can both share a platform together.
Never forget those that helped you along the way and remember its never too late to express gratitude.
This one for you Simon, thank you.