On 24 September 1996, my sister Julia and her daughter Emma were taken together from this world amidst the wild flowers of South Africa in the very prime and at the very beginning of their lives. If you feel inclined, you can google “flower gang killings” and you will, I am afraid, find out more than you would ever wish to know. With the help of my best man, I brought my sibling and my niece's ashes back home to my parents, who have lived happily in West Sussex for over half a century.
On 10 March 2012, I reached my own 50 years of age. As a sign of what is usually termed a mid-life crisis, I decided to run the London Marathon on 22 April 2012. Whilst I registered for a place some months ago, my training programme has not exactly gone according to plan, but there is still another month to go in which I aim to move on up from a half to a full marathon. I really would welcome your support for my family’s charity, which is so very dear and close to our hearts.
In my parents’ grief, we set up the Julia and Emma Fairbanks-Smith Grove Trust with the purpose of establishing and maintaining an arboretum of varied trees and shrubs to commemmorate the lives of Julia and Emma. The arboretum is now 14 years old and flourishing well in a beautiful location, situated above the village green of Barns Green in West Sussex and looking out toward Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs. A map of the aboretum is shown in my gallery.
The arboretum has reached a sufficient level of maturity that we can shortly go beyond any immediate benefit to the local community and we can begin to promote the long-term objectives of our charity, which are the advancement of education of the public in all matters pertaining to trees, shrubs and flowers. This is an area of learning and enjoyment, which is still missing from today’s modern education. We will engage with local schools to include the aboretum on their curriculum.