What do you see when you look at this photo?
Do you see a proud father and his beautiful daughter? Do you see happiness, family, love?
I see all of those things and more. I see courage in the face of adversity, dignity, positivity and great strength.
I’ll tell you why.
This is a photograph of an old friend of mine, John, and his daughter Amy.
Yesterday I had the pleasure and honour of being asked to go and photograph an event they were organising. It’s very dear to their hearts. It’s very dear to a lot of people’s hearts.
In December 2009 Amy married her childhood sweetheart Adam. They had met at school and everyone who knows them says they were soulmates.
In August 2010, Adam, a Royal Marine, was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan. They had been married less than a year. They were both 25.
Adam had dreamed of owning a beach hut in Mudeford near Christchurch. Now the two remarkable people in the photograph are trying to make that dream come true in his memory. So other soldiers can use it to rest, recuperate, chill.
To date they have raised £78,000. In fact they’ve actually raised £108,000 but they gave the first £30,000 of it to the Royal Marines for their charities before they came up with the idea for Adam’s Hoofing Hut, which is what the beach hut will be called.
Yesterday was the second annual Hoof Fest. A festival of music that brought together young and old, friends and family, people who never knew Adam, people who did. In fact the whole community.
It was a positive, happy, uplifting event that went on all afternoon, all evening and into the small hours.
Kids played on the beach of the lake, parents soaked in the sun, listened to the music and chatted, dogs chased balls, musicians sang and played their hearts out. Everybody had a good time and a lot of money was raised.
Losing a partner is never easy but for someone so young, newly wed, with what should have been their whole future ahead of them … I can’t imagine how hard that is. But this young woman has turned this tragedy into something positive and Adam’s Hoofing Hut will be a permanent memorial to the love they shared and help other soldiers at the same time.
Amy has a loving, strong and supportive family around her as did Adam (although I don’t know them personally), who also left parents, two brothers and a sister.
She conducts herself with such dignity and has the determination to make sure this project is a success: to make sure there will be this memorial to her husband, her childhood sweetheart, her hero.
She sang last night. She has a lovely voice.
When she finished people had tears in their eyes. They weren’t tears of sadness, they were tears of pride and of hope for the future for this remarkable young woman.
If you have a minute, have a look at Adam’s Hoofing Hut to find out what the fundraising is all about. And, if you have a spare £1 or two I am sure it would be hugely appreciated.