My friend and colleague Patrick Sellick died last week, at the age of 49. I met Patrick when he volunteered for the Safety Net project on mate crime. At that point Patrick was too nervous to speak, but his determination to get involved and do what he could was obvious. Within months Patrick was co-teaching peer education sessions and was a stalwart of the project steering group.

Patrick had epilepsy and learning disabilities. He was removed from his birth family at an early stage. He had a 15-hour operation to reattach a hand he lost in an industrial accident. He was married, divorced, and spent years in custody disputes for his beloved son. Not surprisingly, Patrick had a lot to complain about, and he often did. But when it came to work I have rarely met anyone so professional. He would switch on his smile and had time for everyone. Whenever any of us were down or had doubts, Patrick was the one who would pick people up and inject positivity into any situation. He was born to help and care.

I find it desperately sad that we still live in a society in which people like Patrick can expect to live 20 years less than those of us without a learning disability. I miss him greatly. Thanks for everything Patrick.

Rod Landman – Project Officer, ARC England.