Wednesday, 2nd September 2015

Looking back at my happiest memories

This column has formed part of 28-year-old Ben’s ‘bucket list’ of lifelong ambitions. Sadly, Ben’s health has deteriorated and this is his final contribution.  

Hello Shrewsbury… Unfortunately my health is still continuing to decline and I feel it is time to sign off from my weekly column, I’m afraid.

Thank you for allowing me the pleasure of writing to you over the past few months. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have writing it. I think for my last column I will put about some of my favourite memories from life and what they mean to me. Again thank you each and every one of you for all your support, it has helped me and my family through a very tough phase of life. All the very best to you all.

I guess my first vivid memory from childhood was breaking my leg. I was four and playing football in my friend’s back garden when, attempting to kick the ball back, I mis-kicked and fell down a step breaking my left femur. I was left in traction for six weeks in Shrewsbury Hospital. I remember receiving some dinosaur egg soap which in the middle contained a toy dinosaur… what ever happened to these??

Another great thing from my childhood was the kids TV show Knightmare. Every Friday I would go to my nan’s and wait until this came on. Treguard the dungeon master and all the perils the dungeoners faced.

If you haven’t seen it, somebody has uploaded all episodes from the eight series on youtube… you should try and catch it if possible. After Knightmare sometimes Channel Four showed re-runs of the 1960’s Batman TV show which again I love and may have some influence over my funeral plans.

Sport in particular never really caught on with me up until I was aged seven or eight really. I played a little (although after breaking my leg at an early age I perhaps should have given up) but never followed a specific team. My Uncle Mike kept badgering me into supporting this team called Manchester United. So I went with the flow and if asked that was the response people were given. It was during the 1990-91 season that I first felt any emotion towards football but when it came boy was it strong.

It just so happened that my first season of supporting them ended up with Manchester United beating Barcelona in the Cup Winners Cup final. My first ever Man Utd game I went to was in November 1991 against West Ham Utd. Manchester won 2-1 with goals from a very young Ryan Giggs and Bryan Robson. I was fortunate enough to meet the Utd squad a week before the transplant and quizzed Ryan about that game and goal and he remembered it, amazing… My favourite moment as a United fan would obviously have to be beating Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final. The emotion and jubilation of achieving that was just AMAZING. I certainly lucked into the right time to become a Man United fan.

School was not great for me, but I do look back on some of my teachers with fond memories. I went to several schools including Meole Infants/Juniors (my first teacher Mrs Chidlow was so sweet from what I can remember), Maesyhandir in Newtown (Miss Jones was a great teacher and we were her first class!!!), Crowmoor (Mr Pritchard was my teacher there and a great guy he was along with Mr Malalay who ran the football team there – see I still couldn’t give it up) and finally I went to high school at Wakeman. My favourite teachers there were Mrs Beasant – although she was a right task masker and a supply teacher called Mr Arshad.

I have been abroad twice, once on an Anglo-Austrian exchange and once to Amsterdam. The Austrian one was very surreal as I exchanged with a lad called Max. We were both 13 years of age and think we both enjoyed seeing each other’s cultures. Over there I spent more time with his lovely mother as Max had his own things to do over there, I got to watch Salzburg football team play, visited the castle and these delightful gardens with a water park in, where water squirted at you from random places, a source of much mirth I’m sure. I also enjoyed the salt mine tour I went on there.

I still keep in contact with them both but more Max’s mum. Amsterdam was a reward for finishing my GCSE exams. I went with my mate Mike and my nan. Whilst there we visited the Amsterdam Arena, went on a tour of the canals and ate at a lovely Argentinean Beef restaurant. I even noticed a coffee shop there in my name….

I’ve had several jobs. My first proper job was at Burger king on Pride Hill before progressing to Petit Delice in the square. Again health interfered and I had to leave there. I was out of work from Nov 2000-Aug 2003 when I landed a job with a car transportation firm. I left there in Oct 2004 to land my dream retail job at Virgin Megastore.

Music was a big part of my life back then and I was really into it. I’d managed to help out a band called The Others back in May 04 and even witnessed them performing a gig on a tube train. They were very welcoming to me and always invited me to their gigs. I’m still in touch with them all and recently met the guitarist in Brighton.

However my most precious memory is the day of marrying my wife. An amazing woman who has been through so much, so young and is going to be left behind when I’m gone. I was pretty ill on that day but all the pain and illness went away for the day and the wave of love carried us through, like it has done for all seven years of our partnership.

So that’s it Shrewsbury. Once again I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives over the last few months. Take care and I wish you all health and happiness for evermore.

Ben x