30 years of friendship

Created by Amanda one year ago
I first met James 30 years ago, around the same time I met my husband, Robert.  In fact it was probably literally at the same time as we don’t remember meeting either (another story). We do know that we all met at a national Young Conservative event sometime between October 1991 and February 1992.    

From the early days campaigning in the YCs - both hard fought internal elections and the real thing - we had so much fun.  Conferences, dinners, discos, late night drinks, plotting, chasing around the country doing crazy miles for the cause we loved.

James and Cathy were at our wedding in 1999 and, a month later, we were at theirs.  As all our lives and careers unfolded, both inside politics and away from it, our friendship continued.  Our children came along and so we added baptisms, family lunches and days out with our children to our bank of shared memories. James loved Cathy, Sophie, Jemma and Ben so very much and he was, rightly, so proud of them.

James believed passionately in public service.  He wanted to do good, to make people’s lives better.  He took his responsibilities seriously and was always conscious that his decisions would have consequences. James listened, wanted to really understand an issue and he had time for people

As James’ career progressed, he also always had time, made time, for his friends. I know how much juggling and planning Cathy had to do behind the scenes to help bring that together. But they did, because that’s who they are. Lots of us talked about a YC reunion dinner but, of course, it was James who made it happen.

There are so many memories to treasure - getting our little people into PJs and piling them into the car ready for bed after family days out, sharing dinners out to mark milestone anniversaries, a very special weekend in Hillsborough, photo booths at parties.  This was the fabric of our lives, both taken for granted and deeply valued.

Although we enjoyed drinks, and even dinner, over zoom, the last time I saw James in person was at my 50th birthday party, just a few short weeks before Covid and lockdown. It was an evening of fun, friends, reminiscing and laughter.  

In the last messages we exchanged, James was checking Robert and I were okay after both having had a nasty bout of Covid.  He mentioned his latest treatment but, as always, he played it down and said he was “keeping on keeping on”. The news that he had died was both shocking and devastating.  

Over the last week or so, as Cathy has trusted me to help her with arrangements for James’ funeral, I have been in contact with people from every part of James’ life.  I’m still struggling to believe that he is no longer here and that we are doing this to say goodbye to him.  But it has been a privilege to be immersed in the many memories and tributes and to realise just how many lives he touched and what a legacy he leaves.

James was the most fabulous friend.  He was fun, loyal and kind.  He was the best of us and I will miss him dreadfully. 

God bless James.