Uplifting story of boy who never gave up
CHILDREN can make such a big deal about being hard done by.The 'woe is me, everyone is better off' whining that drives parents mad.When my boys moan that their privileged comfortable lives are 'unfair' I tell them about Murray.
CHILDREN can make such a big deal about being hard done by.
The 'woe is me, everyone is better off' whining that drives parents mad.
When my boys moan that their privileged comfortable lives are 'unfair' I tell them about Murray.
Murray was an 11-year-old I came across four years ago when I worked for a charity that looks after young carers.
Murray was a fantastic boy, charming, articulate, intelligent, funny and mature for his years.
He lived with his father, a lone and older parent, who had suffered from severe depression for years. Murray, who was plagued by extreme eczema, had to fend for himself much of the time as well as care for his father when his illness took hold.
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Murray was devoted to his dad. Their relationship was touching. They played together, shared a passion for football and were a solid supportive unit although life, at times, could be isolating for Murray and he often had a hard time from other children at school.
Soon after we spoke, Murray, who lives in Norwich, was diagnosed with cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma. When he turned 12, he was undergoing chemotherapy - six courses in all.
This boy's life felt chronically unfair. He had every right to moan and ask why him? But this extraordinary boy kept his spirits up throughout and came through.
I thought about Murray a lot in the intervening years, wondering how he was and how life was going for him and the father he loved so much and the father who lived for him.
Then, on Friday, I switched on the television and there was Murray, busy cooking a pudding, his father with his trademark beard in the audience.
I made a double take. Murray? A TV chef?
Now 15, after everything he had been through, Murray had made the final of ITV's Britain's Best Dish, his own recipe of strawberry and cream souffl� with a cream panna cotta and strawberry coulis already voted best dessert.
With that charm and maturity, he had grown, with the backdrop of the most difficult of circumstances and adversity with the love of his father, into a fabulous, and thankfully healthy, young man.
His dish won the public vote as Britain's Best Dish on Friday, beating 3,000 people who entered and starring on national television.
I shed more than a tear when he was presented with his prize of �10,000 and announced he would use it to fulfill his father's lifelong ambition to visit Kenya.
Murray was teased for being different. His life wasn't that of other children, his family circumstances were not ideal - on paper his life was grim.
But amid the depression and illness, the bond of father and son never faltered and Murray, who never felt sorry for himself, finally found some luck - his just desserts.
An uplifting story if ever there was one - and now with a happy ending that will take them to fulfill a dream, together, as it should be.
November is Will Aid month when some solicitors offer will writing services for free for donations to Will Aid to help people all over the world.
Wills are in the news. Stephen Gately looks like he died without a will leaving a nightmare ahead for his family and partner.
A friend lost his partner suddenly, aged 39. There was no will. Although two independent committees had granted him pension and death in service payments, the entire estate of his partner of 14 years - a house, savings and investments - went to his partner's family who passed on nothing to my friend because they decided they never approved on the relationship, although before the death they had welcomed him into the family.
He refused to make a legal battle because the parents are in their 80s and his partner had loved them so much. He didn't want to inflict any more pain.
Such decency in a situation that leaves more than a bad taste.
But a case that demonstrates how vital a will is for everyone.
WHAT sort of man goes out to celebrate his wife's pregnancy with his third child by grabbing a woman's bottom and punching her in the face when she spurned his advances?
A hero and role model to thousands of young boys who earns �35,000 a week from 'the beautiful game.'
As Marlon King started a jail sentence and was put on the sex offenders' register, his former boss at Wigan Athletic said the player would never play for his club again.
But Gordon Taylor, of the Professional Footballer's Association, offered the thug support.
From Football La-La land where every figure ends in at least three noughts and footballers live light years away from reality and the rest of us, Taylor said: "Everybody in life can have big problems to face and this is probably Marlon's biggest and I hope he's able to overcome it, and if he needs help to get his life back on track I assure you we'll be there for him.'
Not a word for King's victim, Emily Carr, a young law student who will be left with a permanent disfigurement because she had the temerity to be unimpressed with the monster's Neanderthal approach or boasts of multi-millions.
Where's the support for her from the land of plenty?
Whether it was football and its excessive riches and idolatry of idiots that turned King into a monster or whether he was always one, we don't know.
But this man should never be allowed to make another penny out of game that he believed made him irresistible to any woman and gave him the right to abuse them.
Taylor droned on: 'I would hope with the passage of time and with the right approach from Marlon, he has the willingness to get his life back on track. He still has a family to support."
Pity he didn't think of his family - two small children and a pregnant wife - when he made a grab for that woman's bottom and then shattered her nose.
I'M with the sacked Government drugs adviser that weekly binge drinking and chain smoking is more harmful than occasional cannabis and one ecstasy tablet, but I'm not the expert.
The liver and lung clinics of the next decade will bear the horrible truth about today's teenagers chucking cheap booze down their necks until they collapse.
But I'm more concerned about Professor David Nutt's poor children - four of them aged between 18 and 26 - who he has outed to the media for admitting to him they had tried drugs.
We all want our children to be open with us about how much they drink and if they try drugs but the last place they would hope to see them next is in the newspaper.
I wouldn't like to be in his shoes at Sunday lunch.
I KNOW we're all supposed to be working until we're 80 but the matchmaker who introduced frisky French president Nicolas Sarkozy to foxy Carla Bruni is pushing it a bit to describe them as a 'young couple'?
'They are a young couple, and like all young couples, they want to start a family,' said the advertising tycoon who introduced them.
Sarkozy is 54 and already a father of three sons aged between 12 and 24, Bruni, at 41, has a nine-year-old son from a previous relationship.
A new baby and a country to run.
Talk about emperor's new clothes. Perhaps Sarkozy really does believe he's only 25.
AREN'T we all getting a little sensitive and over-reacting to the incy-winciest bit of criticism?
First Stephen Fry, bless him, by all accounts a lovely kind man who loathes unkindness or meanness of any kind, threatened to stop Twittering because he was deeply hurt by a fellow Twitterer's accusation he was boring.
Hardly the most wounding of insults.
Then double gold medal winner Rebecca Adlington complains of deep hurt from jokes on Mock the Week when Frankie Boyle said she resembled 'someone looking at themselves in the back of a spoon' followed by sexual innuendo.
Naff, crass and unnecessary maybe, but causing deep hurt?
Best to ignore the ignorant and they soon go away and find another target.
HOWEVER hard we try, women will never be treated equally to men.
Take two successful, bright, ambitious women. Sam Taylor Wood is a 42-year-old working mother who has overcome cancer to build a thriving career. An artist and a film director, she has packed her life.
But whatever she's achieved, nothing has attracted so much attention, raised eyebrows and nudges than getting engaged to the 19-year-old leading man of her latest film.
No one would bat an eyelid if the man were 42 and the woman, 19.
Then there's wannabe Tory MP Liz Truss adopted as a candidate for Norfolk South West then at the centre of a backlash because she hadn't told the local party about her affair with a married MP.
An affair - just the subject to bring up in an interview after her views on the local economy.
'By the way, you do know, don't you, that I used to sleep with MP Mark Field, and split up his marriage?' You wouldn't, would you?
Now the blue rinse brigade has turned on her, now a married mother of two.
Interestingly, Mr Field is still nicely lodged in his constituency with no one whining about his transgression of 'decent standards.'
Would there have been the fuss had Truss been male? We all know the answer to that.
And note that she is the loser. The least Mr Field should do is 'the decent thing' and stand down to offer her his constituency.
COLEEN Rooney is not as daft as her husband looks.
She chose an NHS birth for first baby Kai.
Private maternity hospitals might have extra comforts with knobs on but, when it comes to critical acute care there is nowhere for new mothers like the NHS, its staff and equipment.