THIS article is dedicated to five special people.
Two led full lives to the end and did the state some service, in Shakespeare’s words, and two achieved much for our city, their lives sadly cut short.
The last died in a way that has shaken us all.
It seemed Fred Goode would organise the Burma Star Association and the Victory Japan Day service at the Cenotaph forever.
Like his fellow Second World War naval veteran Prince Philip, Fred was older than he looked and smiled and, like him, became more irreverent with every year.
He made light of any aches and pains, did a lot for veterans and well deserved the BEM, although sadly he died too soon to receive it himself.
I shall miss him, especially at the Cenotaph.
His almost exact contemporary was Canon Bill Brassell of College Green.
The gentlest of men, Bill served on the Atlantic convoys to help Russia defeat Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front.
Last year, I arranged for him to be presented with the Arctic Star.
Bill looked around – guard of honour, TV and radio crews etc – and said it was more frightening than anything he’d done so far.
He then recited from memory part of Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner to explain what life on the freezing convoys were like.
Marilyn Champion was a generation younger, a neighbour who brought St Michael’s Tower spectacularly back to life, transformed Brunswick Square and improved St Michael’s Square.
She never stopped believing that things could be better, that funds could be found and Gloucester was a jewel that needed polishing. She showed these were dreams that could come true and the Tower is her enduring legacy.
In every community there are one or two people who young people look up to for guidance, who make a difference for them.
That was Carmel Webb, working with Jennie Dallimore for Podsmead families.
She had a heart of gold, and died much too young.
Carmel’s legacy in Podsmead will live on for generations.
I knew Fred, Bill, Marilyn and Carmel.
I didn’t know the last of my five, Hollie Gazzard.
But I do know those big happy eyes on the Citizen cover should never have been those of a girl my daughter’s age.
There won’t be a person in our city and county that isn’t appalled.
‘Do not ask’ wrote the poet John Donne, after his beloved daughter died, ‘for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee’.
The death of Hollie reminds us how fragile life can be.