It's been impossible for me this last week, watching the news about the death of Claire Squires while running the London Marathon, not to think of Dad. Two years ago this August, he died while swimming in the London Triathlon. He wasn't even supposed to be competing that day; he was signed up for the individual event the following day. The company had put a team together, encouraged by Dad, and it was they who were taking part on the Saturday. When the colleague who was due to tackle the swim leg was injured, Dad immediately stepped in. What happened once he was in the water, noone has really been able to tell us. We know that it took a good few minutes to get him out of the water once he'd been spotted face down. We know that the medical team on site worked unbelievably hard to bring him back; and they did in fact get his heart beating again. But he'd been without a heartbeat and circulating oxygen for at least 5 minutes and when we reached him in hospital, the medical staff tried so delicately to tell us there was no hope, but that they would do what they could. Three days later, on Mum and Dad's wedding anniversary, the doctors took the decision to turn off the life support machines. Don't ask me what killed him - we still really don't know. My best guess from the autopsy report and the doctors reports at the time was that heat exhaustion was the starting point for what went wrong that day.
There was little publicity when Dad died. The South Yorkshire Times ran the story of this local lad done well, but the Triathlon organisers struggled to even acknowledge his death. There was no public rush to make donations to Dad's charity of choice, although family, friends and colleagues all contributed generously in his name. Watching the growing total of Claire Squires' Just Giving page had me wondering though ... "was Dad any less loved or admired than Claire?"
I think the answer is that to those who knew and loved Dad and Claire, the loss is unquantifiable and incomparable. And each and every day, hundreds of people give their lives in the service of others without any expectation of thanks or commemoration. That so many strangers have chosen to donate on Claire's page, shows me how much our society really does appreciate the contributions made by the givers and how sad it makes us all when they are taken.
On behalf of all of us, I would like to thank those who supported Dad's charitable endeavours. Mum has always hoped that we might take his initial fund-raising target from £500 to £5,000. We are only a little way off that final target. If you would like to help us reach it, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/ian-sloss, or watch out for details of my up-coming sponsored crochet (yes, I realise it isn't particularly sporty, but it would have made Dad laugh I'm sure!)