Like others, I too can smile at his mothers legacy as it shines through her two sons. Princess Diana pioneered the most indiscriminate work amongst HIV & AIDS suffered back in the mid 90's, something that ignorantly repulsed a large number of humans as the stigma's adhesive was reinforced with media images and negativity.
For some reason....this beautiful lady had no fear, she chose not to take on the media panic and ignorance. She used her profile to rise like a phoenix through everything and shine love and support over those diagnosed and their families. Controversial as it was, she proved that this was not the case and rose above the uneducated and bias stigma as the camera's followed her everywhere she had an already established platform to the world watching.
It was during 1994 whilst working for a large corporate media company, I decided one of my many charity fund raisers would be a sponsored abseil..... I don't do heights .....at all !!! I get jelly legs just thinking about it!! Those who knew me were really confused that out of all the charity work I supported like "Cash for Kids", "Toys for children's Home's" & even my annual blanket & food collection for Birmingham dogs home during the winter, this would not be on my radar. Never the less, I signed up! I gathered sponsorships over the weeks before the abseil and met a mixed reaction when I explained who the beneficiaries were, a local charity in Birmingham supporting HIV & AIDS sufferers and giving support to their families. I admit, as I reminise now, I can feel the hostility I met from some....still makes me feel sad.
Nothing stopped me though, I turned up on the day totally motivated and ready to do this! As I arrived onto the car park in Aston Science Park, there was my colleague & friend, Jim Leavy who was also doing the abseil, a few free lance news reporters, one photographer and members of the abseil team....that....was....it! Oh....and an ambulance!!! I looked around me in disbelief. Just then, a minibus turned into the carpark with the name of the charity on the side "Rainbow" and a large Rainbow decal colourful and vibrant. I watched as the passengers, were helped and wheeled out on ramps by carers and family. One gentleman was hooked up to a drip and looked the frailest I had even seen with my own eyes, my heart sank....briefly. I rushed over like a puppy as I do (if you know me...you know I am excitable) I hugged and kissed EVERYONE...carers...the driver..I didn't care ( I really want to point out at the stage...I didn't catch AIDS off anyone!!!!!! grrrr!) That was it! I was revved up and ready to do this damn scary abseil ...it was the least I could do. I took the lift up to the top of the building with Jim to meet the abseil team and grilled them within an inch of their lives to assure me the rope was not going to break even though I was a lot lighter back then, they went from an enthusiastic YES to blowing hot air at me, whilst rolling their eyes and giving a stern "Really...Yes...you are perfectly safe"..he he...just checking!
My gorgeous & forever supportive Mom & Dad were down there, my Mom still with that look of disbelief on her face I could clearly see even 120 feet up in the air! The worst bit was actually letting go of the top of the building and trusting the harness, once I had that, I was aware there was only one way out of this & that was down. I must add at this point, Jim, who was a very experience glacier climber had virtually RUN down the building, got in the lift and was back at the top next to me, whilst I was grilling the abseil team! Bloody show off!. Anyway, once I got my rhythm and started to use the building as a springboard, I was on my way down. It was just as I got towards the bottom, the local newspaper photographer asked me to stop & pose for the camera... have you seen Bridget Jones sliding down the fireman's pole....this was the photo of me they published.....across Birmingham...basically...MY BUM! I touched down onto the path below me safely and relieved. My first line of view were the Rainbow group, FLOODGATES!!! I can't help saying as I went over to them, I really just wanted to hold onto them & not let go...I wanted a magic wand to end the suffering or at least be able to give them some wild news that a cure was ready and they were able to look to a future. My abseil paled into insignificance to me but they were so grateful and genuinely amazed by my lack of fear. I get it, I understand why people work with such amazing charities and hospices.
I overwhelmingly wanted to do it again, I was energised, motivated and pumped out of my mind...Jim had already been up and down the building several times so the team were ready to leave. I am sure if I had of gone back up to the top..I would have just ran down facing forward singing the hills are alive...but I didn't get the chance.....so we will never know.
Delighted to say, maybe not in time for the guys there that day, but medical research and development moved quite quickly and continues to manage HIV successfully for most today. Thank God xx