When Ruth died in February 2009 quite unexpectedly, I fell apart.

After a very long time of caring for her, working and bringing up our three daughters (then in their teens), Ruth’s death hit me very hard and I just couldn’t cope.

With wisdom beyond their years, my daughters encouraged me to go away for a proper break, saying, “We have one another, Dad; you need to go away and rest.”

And so, having been to the Hebridean Isle of Jura in the past, I rang the Fletcher family and enquired if I might stay at Barnhill for a time. I explained why I needed to get away from it all, to rest, recover and pray.

I’d previously met Charles Fletcher at Ardlussa, on the island, and was aware that he’d had M.S. for a long time.

Understanding straightaway where I was coming from, it was explained that Charles had passed only the year before, and the family not only understood my needs but were very kind to me.

So as the first part of my Sabbatical, I spent several weeks at the house where George Orwell had gone, to get over the death of his wife and to write his final book, “1984”.

In one of two encounters yesterday, I met a relative of Charles, and there were brought to mind our meetings with him, and observing his brave struggle against this most cruel condition.

Like Orwell, I too am writing a book, the seeds of which were first sown in those weeks at Barnhill.

Sometimes, being on the edge is fuel for inspiration – as I hope this Walk will be too, in time, for me and many others.

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