Being English, we don’t talk about death. We moan about getting old, about aching and forgetting things, about going to work and wishing for retirement, but we never discuss the alternative. We just pretend that it will all go on for ever. And we always think there’ll be more time. Time to spend with friends and family, time to laugh and cry, time to find out a little bit more about that man you never knew well, but who always made you smile.
Except that sometimes there isn't more time, and it’s only when it’s too late that you find out that a man you admired, is really called Keith and not Dobbin; that he liked steam trains and fishing; loved holidays in Scotland, and that he once dressed up as a woman to play in goal for a ladies’ football team.
And then you learn something more. You begin to see that sometimes it’s possible to do so much more than work and sleep and pass a life away. That it is possible to live a life that builds meaning around family and home; that counts laughter and friendship as more important than money; that brings out a whole village.
Shoreham is a special place; it draws the best of people into its heart and cherishes them. And when it’s time to let someone go, it does so with dignity and pride; with laughter, tears, and more than a little drunkenness. Shoreham was exactly the right place for Dobbin to live, and, on Friday, as I stood on the bridge over the river and watched 52 blue and white balloons soaring into the sky and floating away down the valley, it was also exactly the right place from which to say goodbye.