A year ago, one of the Campaign’s founder members, Terry O’Shea, died from cancer. His lovely wife and children are foremost in our minds today. The campaign members feel grateful we were able to borrow so much of Terry’s time in his life. We want Joan, Eleanor, Emma, and Harry to know they are in our thoughts.
Terry devoted so much to our campaign. He was the brave front, someone who raised his sword and charged forward to fight for what he believed was right. He took the retaliatory blows and shielded those of us who shared his concerns but not his courage. It takes great courage to criticise and expose failings at an NHS trust. One of his friends likened him to Spartacus.
When Terry was ill, he did his best to hand over the things he took responsibility for in our campaign. We knew it would take a team of us to cover all the things he did. He was threatened with legal action from NSFT for speaking out. Terry wanted to protect us from that worry. So, everything was set up with different members knowing and taking responsibility for different things. For example, none of us knows who the ‘Twitter Fairies’ are.
Although we committed to continuing the campaign, we were a bit lost without Terry. In truth, there are things we come across that only he would know. In our meetings we talk about him often and when we are stuck we consider what Terry would do. We miss him.
Terry was not all fight and sarcasm (though nobody could out rank him on caustic wit). Terry cared about and supported many bereaved people. He was incredibly kind to them. He was worried about who would look out for them when he was gone.
Over the last year we have settled in to campaigning without Terry (up front, by our side, or covering our backsides). We have pulled together as a team and gained confidence. We often tell each other how proud Terry would be of our efforts and achievements. He would be so pleased to know we have carried on his good work.
On the day Terry died, Joan sent some of us a message:
“Those of you who fought with him to improve mental health care, please keep up the good work. I know how passionate he was about making things better and it was on his mind until the end.”
We have. We will. Until things improve, the campaign will continue to speak truth to power.
In memory of Terry – “I am Spartacus!”