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The day finally came, despite a million secret wishes and prayers to postpone it from the three of us, just to avoid saying goodbye!
But it came and we faced it head on, the three of us, all deeply affected by the devastating reality of what we were about to face, with nothing in this world remotely ever preparing you for such a day. Preparations were over, a road we would never wish to return to, a road 12 days ago we were incapable of comprehending but despite such adversity we had arrived, through a million small steps and tears and a massive amount of support from a community of special friends and family.
The cars arrived with Ryan at Acres Holt, our first thoughts being he was home again, a time for him to take everything in and remember where he belonged, here with us, a place to always return to happy or sad, with friends or alone, it didn’t matter it was simply his place. Hopefully, he would find another equal if not better, a place one day we all can be together, he had the skills, the life experiences, was he ready we asked ourselves and the answer was clear. Yes he was, it was his time, he had work to do elsewhere and we had to let him go!
His goodbye was nothing less than he deserved and our last real opportunity to do right by him. With tears barely being held back, he surprised us all, his twist on the day, a real softener yet entirely appropriate as we saw the DB9 take centre stage to lead the cortège on a route he could have walked blindfolded.
The Suspension Bridge looked majestic against the blue sky and the sunshine as it lit up the way for him to follow. It was a path written many years ago, his path at one which encapsulated huge memories as the Rolls Royce engines silently purred towards the Chapel following the lead of the DB9, a true thoroughbred entirely fitting the occasion.
Turning into Moberly’s House signalled his arrival, where we were greeted by an upstanding and respectful line of family members alongside Alan and Cath O’Sullivan, all ready and proud to do their solemn duty, unreservedly, without question or consideration.
At six foot and of solid muscle we had our work cut out as six of us carried Ryan, this young mountain of a man, silently down his daily trodden path, through Memorial Arch and onwards past the ‘Close’ Clifton’s impressive rugby and cricket pitches where he regularly graced the field. The Chapel was now firmly in sight, as the procession of family fell in behind, Michelle, Shims, grandparents, godparents and close friends gracefully making a direct line to the Chapel through the Quad, at all times led by the DB9 muscle car, the twist Ryan had somehow organised.
His little cheeky twist of matching his carriage to the exact RAL colour of the car, in true Ryan coordinated fashion, was his personal message to all his friends and family to remember to smile. To us all, however, it simply reflected him; proud, stylish and above all highly loved by everyone who understood the true meaning of quality.
His very close friends including his Magic 8, stood with mixed emotions as the DB9 simply turned away at the Chapel doors, clearing the path for Ryan to enter. All knowing he would have been watching and smiling at them with that cheeky grin, with great affection they fell in line as the procession followed Ryan inside, the breathtaking interior never looking better than that day, as the sun shone life through the stained glass windows and upon the heads of the 900+ attendance who heart-warmingly had turned up to celebrate ‘Ryan’s Day’ with us.
At this point, it is appropriate to remind you to read Charlotte’s (Shims) account of how she viewed Chapel on that day which she happily agreed to share with us all. The background to this and how she came to write it is explained in the link at the end of this text.
The Chapel service was nothing less than spectacular led by the inspirational Chaplain Kim Taplin, who had worked extremely closely with us in the lead up to the day ensuring it reflected our wishes and the bespoke nature of the service we requested. We are pleased to say it did in every way, including the impressive floral display kindly and affectionately created by Chryssa Taplin, his wife.
Our massive thanks also go to Mark Moore and all Staff at the College for placing the community and services of Clifton at our disposal and Alan O’Sullivan for his patience, appreciation and connection with what the day meant to us.
The Choir was outstanding, as always, and we appreciated everyone’s effort to make it perfect on the day. We hope with James Hills help, Director of Music at Clifton, that we may at some point in the near future follow up on his generous offer to record all the Hymns and the Anthem as another valuable precious memory of the day.
As most will know, Moberly’s provided the very special personal contribution with their version of ‘Home’ a song Ryan held in great affection. Our thanks go to Nick Williams for rounding up the boys and on the day, girls too! In May 2010, Moberly’s recorded this song, which can be listened to in the Music & Videos section on the website – along with some other really great moments.
The star of the show, however, was unquestionably, Shimmy, who displayed such courage, dignity and complete love for her dearest brother, Ryan. They were so close – ‘two peas in a pod’ – even being mistaken as twins at an earlier point in their lives! Her life will not be the same without him, but we know she has the spirit and strength, to continue to live her own life and dreams, and Ryan will remain in her heart forever.
Our own wish to speak on the day was something we felt compelled to do, never wishing to look back and regret missing the opportunity to express our true feelings despite many reasons not to. However, the latter was easily overcome as without doubt we have always expected both Ryan and Charlotte to step up to the mark, for which they have many times and therefore this was simply our turn. We now know this was exactly the right thing to do.
Leaving the Chapel was just as hard as arriving, as the true scale of the attendance in his honour became apparent and our wish to thank personally each and every individual who had taken the time to show their respects. We will always remember the very kind words and comments of admiration expressed by everyone, in particular how people felt extremely sad on arriving but inspired after the service. We again thank you all.
An extremely poignant part of the day came when we finally had to leave and as the bells rung, the Quad went into a still silence, the only notable sound being the half mast flag fluttering above us, those guests remaining, somehow in military fashion, lined up perfectly either side of our path, and the cortege slowly drifted towards Memorial Arch. In what seemed time stood still, the roar of the Aston Martin DB9, echoed around the Quad, as the procession made its way through the Arch. It was without doubt Ryan, a true Lion, letting us all know how proud he was of everyone in his own special way.
We also thank all our friends and family for continuing their love and support in the Celebration of ‘Ryan’s Day’ at Canford Crematorium, with special thanks to both Sally and Bill, his loving Godparents, for their touching and composed readings. Also to Giampiero Castelli and all his staff at Ashton Court Mansion for their superb hospitality in the evening, an exceptional and highly appropriate venue to complete ‘Ryan’s Day’. It truly was a wonderful day and one we will never forget.
It would not be fair or proper to finish without acknowledging the exceptional service we received from everyone at the Paramedic and BRI Emergency and Intensive Care Units, as well as the unsung heroes Steve and Cian in the BRI Chapel of Rest. Austin Williams of Bristol Funeral Directors must also receive our special thanks, as from the start, Austin simply ‘got it’. He knew this was to be an extremely bespoke day in all respects and treated us and Ryan with the greatest respect.
We are delighted to confirm that the Chapel collection on ‘Ryan’s Day’ 12th April 2010, raised a staggering £1,600. We wish to send a very big thank you to everyone who attended, contributed, took part and helped us to organise such a special day.
To finish, and in the same manner as Smithy, James Corden, one of Ryan’s favourite characters from the series Gavin and Stacey put it aptly on ‘Ryan’s Day’:-
Bon Voyage, Ryes-a- lar…… Have a great life wherever you are and thank you for every moment you have shared with us. Your shoes can never be filled, but your footprints will always be there for others to follow.
God bless and I know we will never forget the promises we made to each other not now, not ever.
John and Michelle Bresnahan