Tell us about the person who has had the most beneficial influence on your life? A person who exists in your regular life-space. Tell us why this person had such an influence on you and how it has changed you.
That’s a hard pick. There are so many.
My mum and dad are way up there, Trevor Blanks, Chris Hickey, Ed Lock, Rex Smith, Nick Jarman, Tony & Ivy Creasey, Two of my cousins Ian Howard and Brian Cronin, Uncles and Aunts particularly Peter Howard, Grandparents, Ailsa (my wife), so very many other people.
I think I’ll have to go with Dad.
He was so amazing with me, his trust of me.
In so many aspects I must have been such a disappointment to him, as I was a small, weak, deformed, kid who could hardly make himself understood; yet dad let me try stuff, gave me a lot of trust and a lot of freedom. Room to make my own mistakes. He didn’t talk down to me, he said it like he saw it, and let me make what I would of the words.
As I overcame the speech problems, and my body grew out of its deformities, and I expanded, he was always there, accepting all the crazy choices I made, all the mistakes (and there were volumes of them).
For 40 years he was my best friend, and for 15 of them we worked together, side by side, day in and out.
I saw dad trust people, and have that trust betrayed, at his expense (over and over again), and he never stopped trusting. At 15 I was a skinny little runt at 5 ft, while my dad was 6 ft and muscular. By the time I finished my first year at University I was 6 ft 2″, and as strong as Dad, though still with all the habits and mannerisms of someone at the bottom of the pecking order.
I guess it is largely down to the freedom and trust that dad put in to me that I am able to contemplate and consider things that no one else necessarily agrees with.
He would let me try stuff. Like driving tractors at 4 years old, going hunting alone with a rifle at 8 years old (after much instruction on firearms safety). By age 10 I could drive any vehicle on the farm (from tractors to jeep to trucks to bulldozers to cars, and I knew how to fix them if they stopped working).
He would listen to me, even if he had no real idea what I was talking about, and I would try and explain ideas from the magazines and journals I was reading (at 16 I subscribed to Scientific American and New Scientist) and my own takes on what others were working on.
And often we would just play cards, or infinite noughts and crosses (5 in a row to win, on a 20 by 20 board).