The crocuses

I took my mum and dad to see the crocuses – was first time they had seen them and we haven’t been ourselves for nearly 2 weeks.

Even more have come out and they look stunning.

My dad, in particular, thought they were a very fitting tribute.

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press article

Photo of article in today’s evening news

It’s a good article – I just want to correct the description as Andrew’s parents.
- I have always been most particular that we are Andrew’s dad and stepmum.

Andrew was very much loved stepson and I have lovely memories of signs of love and affection from daft email signatures (his to me was Lola and mine back was Loll as in lots of love Andrew or lots of love Lynnie), he was one of the few people to call me Lynnie and I have beautiful Mother’s Day cards from him but he had his mum and their relationship was very special.

His parents both miss him beyond measure but it is Ian and I who are in the public eye campaigning so it is that we get the press requests for statements.

His mum and sister were just with us today for lunch sharing our thoughts on the case and I asked her about me saying this and she is happy that I do so. (I have been careful to only talk about only Ian and my thoughts over past couple of years to preserve his mum and sister’s privacy)

We were all a bit upset by a press release issued, not yet sure who by, that had put Andrew’s name where Mr Stewart’s should have been but I also have to say that, once asked, both the BBC and Evening News websites immediately changed the error (which was not their error). IMG_3052

 

Court case

The past four days have been fairly traumatic for our family. Spending four days in the Sheriff court house listening to different memories of the 5 January 2012, the day Andrew died.

An experienced and skilled cyclist and one of life’s top blokes he died cycling to work that day.

Our disappointment today in the Not Proven verdict is huge but we love our country, it has this system and so have to live with it.  I’m not going to say much about the case itself as civil cases are being considered.

I will say this – we’re not moaners – if we don’t like something and think it needs changed we will try to do something to change it or help change it. Moaning (and plenty folk do it – expecting ‘others’ to do the changing for them) is a waste of energy – we are going to put our energies into working with Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law and Roadshare to get stricter liability in Scotland – protecting the more vulnerable road user.

We are also happy to work with Pedal on Parliament team to campaign for safer cycling.  Ok, it’s not going to happen overnight – it’s going to take years but we will get there in the end.

Obviously we’re not doing it FOR Andrew but we are doing it because of Andrew and for all the people who have approached me in the two years since his death saying they’d love to cycle but are too scared to.  (which now includes me – no way am I going to cycle on the roads.)

So come on, get involved with something you care about and want to change – maybe it’s a small thing or maybe like us, it’s huge. Let’s stop leaving things to ‘others’ to change/improve -let’s be part of the change.

If you are interested in the cycling campaigns we support visit Roadshare, sign their online petition here

and Pedal on Parliament

Join us on 26 april when we cycle to parliament (or in my case, walk to parliament!)

and thank you all very much for the messages of support we have received. They have helped us enormously.

 

Supporting Bridge8Hub

We’d much rather he was here to celebrate his birthday with us but he is not.

However, it seems a fitting birthday tribute to Andrew to announce  that we are supporting a quite remarkable man, Sean Barry and his inspiring project Bridge8Hub.

Rather than tell you about Bridge8Hub I would prefer it if you check out their website and consider supporting them.

Through your work perhaps – I get many offers of volunteer days and can’t use them but I am sure Sean could. He would also welcome any schools supporting him through the YPI initiative.

We will keep you updated on what our donation will be spent on but what I can say  is this:

Andrew would have loved this project- all of it but especially the mountain bike training course!

We wish Sean and his team all the best and will continue to help him where we can.

Ian meeting with Sean Barry

Ian meeting with Sean Barry of Bridge8Hub

Andrew

As we approach the trial of the lorry driver charged with causing Andrew’s death by careless driving I’d like  to tell you a little  bit about Andrew.
He was quite a character.
As a little boy he loved to make models. Indeed got in the local paper for winning a competition at John Menzies once.
He loved his dog, Meg. She was a border collie and needed her walks which he diligently did. They were good pals for each other.
He loved cycling both mountain and road cycling. He had bikes for both activities and enough Cycle kit to start a shop. (I kid you not)  While his flat was always tidy I am sure that the bikes and his beloved car ( a Subaru ) were washed and polished far more often than the flat was! He was a member of online groups for the car, such was his enthusiasm.
Watching the six nations rugby at the weekend made us talk about Andrew. He would have been at the games and in the pub after making new friends, wearing his kilt with pride. Oh how he loved wearing his kilt. He looked fabulous in it, usually wearing it with a rugby top or a casual top. He took it with him when he went on an extended tour round the world. I think he used it as a chat up line!
We’ve had his kilt cleaned and our oldest grandson Sam wears it with pride. He’s not quite got Andrew’s build yet but given time I think he will. Made us all shed tears when Sam wore it to his prom. (another family event missing Andrew)
Andrew loved the rugby probably his favourite game was Scotland v Wales. Went to Wales a couple of times.
Like his parents and sister, he loved life, he loved laughing – he liked kids – my niece and friends have fond memories of him at family events -always happy to be the one joining in their games and he loved being with his nephews too.

Andrew’s birthday is tomorrow – 11 March. Our third birthday without him. Imagine having to wait this long for a trial.  Tomorrow We will go  to check on the crocusses on the Lanark Road to see if more are up. Buying him gifts was always hard but I’d far rather be agonising over what to buy him than have the pain we feel this week.

Next stage

Today was second pre-trial  hearing day.

You might remember I went to the first pre-trial hearing in October last year and the defence asked for more time and, astonishingly, got it.  Five more months of it!

The treatment victims and their families get is something for this country to be ashamed of. Never mind their suffering, the lawyers need more time. ( IMO time is money, longer it takes more money they get)

On the one hand I am glad we are now moving to trial having an actual date (or at least a week beginning date).

On the other I am dismayed and angry (it’s showing isn’t it??) at the waste of time and money I have witnessed on my two short visits to the Sheriff Court.

And I am really angry, and there is going to be a conversation with the Justice Minister about all of this, but I am angry that I raised the issue of sound after the first pre-trial hearing. Looks like good sound system and mics in the court room and the lawyers mumble away to the Judge and you have to strain to hear anything at all. It is a joke. As the public are entitled to attend it would be reasonable to assume that they should also be able to hear what is being said!

Anyway I am off to write up notes for my correspondence with Kenny MacAskill!

I am glad I went to Court on both occasions as feel that we are doing all we can to represent Andrew and I am very glad our friend Janette came with me as it’s a daunting place.

Spring 2014

I realise I  haven’t written here often this year. Partly because I broke my wrist a few days after the anniversary of Andrew’s death and that accident has made life a wee bit trickier!

In the next month we anticipate that  the court case against the lorry driver charged with causing Andrew’s death will finally happen. I do think that the Scottish Justice Minister  and the crown Prosecution Service should hang their heads in shame at the disgraceful way that victims and their  families are  treated – but that is a subject I will pursue further after the case. I am ashamed of the system in as far as we are concerned and having spoken with others in similar circumstances we aren’t alone.

Please think of us on 4 March (pre-trial hearing) and the week of 17 March.  We know we need to dig deep to find the strength to get us through March.

Looking further ahead (which I admit is  hard for us to do at the moment) I have a date for your diary

Saturday 26 April – Pedal on Parliament 2014

noon at the Meadows

I will be walking and that is a good thing as I can recruit folk to walk with me – folk who support safer cycling for themselves, their families and friends but who don’t feel able to cycle on this day.

So, please spread the word far and wide and let us make this the biggest PoP ever- let us show the Scottish Govt we aren’t going away till we get better facilities.

Here’s a screenshot of my guest blog post on the Pedal on Parliament website

 

 

Hold onto the love, not the loss

It’s going to happen every year so we are really going to have to get used to it but it is only our 2nd anniversary of Andrew’s death and coming so soon after our first big family Christmas gathering without him it has been a tough day.

Yesterday I was in the garden and noticed this flower – I couldn’t believe it – two rosebuds still looking amazing. Indeed they must have been growing over past few weeks to look like this.   So it seemed right to cut the stem and take it with us this morning as we visited the site of the incident  that 2 years ago today took Andrew’s life.  We were able to tuck it into longish grass under a group of trees so it isn’t very obvious and might actually last a while as it’s tucked into the earth.

As we approached Lanark Road (we had walked through Craiglockhart Dell and came along Dovecot Park) we saw two cyclists cycling past the spot – it seemed an amazing and symbolic coincidence to happen at that exact moment.

One of the ways we cope (and don’t for a minute think we always do because we have our moments) is to be practical – to see what we can do to ensure that Andrew gets a fair crack at the whip in that courtroom in the spring – I’ve said it before about it not being a level playing field (read my post on the first court session I attended) – so we took photos of  the road – we were there at the same time as the incident and the weather was similar.  We stayed there a while and then walked home.

Something else we have done these past few days is sort all our photos – gracious we had loads to sort and it’s been really nice to go through them.

So today we looked through some of Andrew and shared memories that were evoked by doing so.

We had been given a beautiful album for our silver wedding five years ago and never had the time to add in photos and cards. I sorted that the other day and love the card we found in the bundle waiting to be added.  It is so Andrew. It really is.

 

We’ll continue to fight hard on his behalf for justice and to ensure he is remembered as a person not just ‘the deceased’. Scottish courts take note….

 

I like my quotes and found this one today

‘Hold onto the love, not the loss’

Thanks to the Emergency Services

This past week has been a tough one for Scotland – the dreadful car crash near Dunbar killing three teenagers and the truly awful helicopter crash in Glasgow killing 9 people and injuring dozens.

I didn’t voice my thoughts at the time of those tragedies but thought about the families and friends of those killed a lot.  Both of us did.

Their lives have been changed forever and I hope they all get as much help and support as we did from friends and family.  It makes a huge difference.

But I wanted to talk about something else that we thought about after hearing about these tragedies.

The emergency services. Our emergency services.

I don’t know if I have said this in print before – though we have both talked it about it lot  when speaking to people.

We are so lucky in this country to have emergency services like ours.

The first police officer on the scene at Andrew’s incident tried his best to save Andrew’s life – continuing till the paramedics and ambulance arrived and took  over.

So that the paramedics could continue the lifesaving efforts in the ambulance a police driver drove the ambulance to the Royal Infirmary with a police motor cycle escort.

Whenever we hear a siren and see blue lights on ambulances or police cars we are taken back in our minds to that fateful morning.

The staff at the Royal Infirmary tried their best too but Andrew’s injuries were too catastrophic.

All these people must have seen a young fit man and wanted to make it all better for him (simplistic phrasing, I know, but it’s true).

It is their job to save lives, protect us but all the people we met or heard about who helped Andrew and then us (for their compassion with us was quite something to behold) went beyond what is required of them in their jobs.

That first police officer became our liaison officer and communicated with us regularly in a professional but incredibly caring manner.

From all I have read in the press the same can be said of the emergency services in the other two tragedies last week.

Every day I have a mental gratitude list.  I say thank you for the life, the family and friends I have – for loving what I do, for being imperfect, even for being older – I might moan about a sore back or neck but then think  how lucky I am to feel that pain, to be older.  There is much, so much, to be grateful for.

And today I am saying out loud how grateful I am for those who are in the Emergency Services – the police, paramedics, ambulance crews, doctors, nurses and fire personnel.

You all do a superb job – thank you from us – in our hour of need you really helped us.

 

Courts

First things first.

Blog posts by me here reflect my thoughts and opinions and not necessarily those of our charity or other trustees. 

 

I’m having a rollercoaster of a day.

Having returned over a week ago from a charity challenge in Africa this morning was the first morning that I have felt (almost) well.  I took it as a good sign for the day ahead.

Ian and I met with Councillor Jim Orr at the City Chambers at 9am (we were almost late as forgot that the schools returned today after their October break and my the roads were busy as was our bus. However not for nothing am I married to ‘shortcutsinedinburgh’ McNicoll.  He gets me off the bus in Chambers Street and takes me down a wee close, over the Cowgate and up a wee close and bam there ahead of us is the City Chambers.  In all my years in this city I am sure I have never seen these Closes before!).

I digress.  We had a really frank and full chat with Jim and came away feeling more positive about the future of cycling in Edinburgh.  Jim is Vice-Convenor of the Transportation Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council and a has a real interest in cycling.

I had to leave the meeting early as I wanted to be in court this morning to see and hear the man accused of causing Andrew’s death by careless driving.  Ian wasn’t allowed to go to court as he is on the witness list (something I think is ludicrous as all he did to get on this list was identify Andrew’s body. At the hospital. Hours later).

No-one asked me to go but I felt it right to do so.

I approached the court house with some trepidation – it was really busy at 945am this morning. To see this outside the courthouse was rather strange especially today.

1235488_10151959025967148_1464825466_n I asked at reception where the court room was for pre-trial hearings and was told Court 5.  After bag being searched and going through security I seek out Court 5 – it is downstairs.  There must be 100 people outside Courts 4 and 5 and I freely admit to feeling overwhelmed.  Can you just go into a court?  Do you have to speak to someone first?  There is a desk that says Reception but there is no one behind it.  I feel a bit daft by now and almost want to run out the place.  I think of Andrew and why I am here and go over to a gowned up lady (presuming she was a lawyer) and ask her if it is ok to go into a courtroom.  She was lovely and said yes just go in.

So I do.  There are about 8 people sitting in the public seating.  Ahead of me is a Judge and lawyers with their wigs on at desks in front of him. They are (to my mind and good ears usually) mumbling away.  I am not kidding. This room is not huge, there are microphones in front of them but I can barely hear what anyone is saying.  If it is ok to have the public in these courtrooms could they at least turn on the mics so we can hear what is going on?

I strain to listen and hear the Prosecution mention a family who have gone through a lot since the death of The Deceased in January 2012.  I suddenly realise that this must be our case.  I am so cross to have missed the very start.  And I am so angry to hear Andrew described as The Deceased.  Stop, please.  Use his name.  He was a person like you and me.  I can feel my stomach churning.  I realise the defence is asking for more time.  I have the most incredible desire to scream “Are you kidding? What for?”  It’s been 21months since Andrew was killed. What on earth can they need more time for?

I still cannot believe that families of victims can be treated this way.  Surely cannot be good for the accused either.

The (hard to find) cynic in me thinks that it is good for the lawyers though.

I sort of hoped that the accused would notice me and realise who I was and that would make  him change his mind , instruct his lawyer to just get on with the trial.   Life isn’t like that.  He didn’t notice me – he didn’t even look at anyone as he left.  He wasn’t how I expected.

His lawyer is just doing his job, I suppose. I wonder if he or they ever think of us though.

Nothing can bring Andrew back but the processes of law dehumanise him and that makes me mad.  I had asked that we have a photo of Andrew in the court when the trial  happens.  Yes, they said. (They being the Procurator Fiscal’s office) But a couple of days after the meeting that was agreed at, they wrote to us to say no you can’t do that.  Might get sympathy with the jury.  Eh?

If Andrew had just been injured he would have been able to sit across from the jury and get sympathy.  The accused can sit across from the jury and look remorseful and sad.  But dead Andrew can’t do that.  So he gets no opportunity with the jury then. What happened to a level playing field?

I am allowing myself this one day of dismay/fury/sadness.   All those feelings after all are only because we loved Andrew very much and want him remembered for who he was, not just how he was killed.

Tomorrow I intend to be back to being the positive me I like!  I’ll re-focus on the positive actions we can take to make cycling safer and more enjoyable in our city, our country and I will have something else to add to my to do list for the future– to try to influence changes in our Justice system!

We’ll always remember you, Andrew. As we approach our oldest grandson’s 18th birthday at the end of this week I share with you a photo of Andrew with his dad, Ian and baby nephew Sam.  Yep, that baby is 18 on Friday.  Another occasion for our Andrew to be missed. RIP

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