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LAST week we reported on the court case of cyclist Tom Ridgway who was knocked off his bike and killed in Streetsbrook Road last June. His story struck a chord with the nation. Here Tom’s mum Liz gives a personal response on forgiveness.

SOON after losing our dear son Tom, a song kept playing into the chaos of my mind.

SOON after losing our dear son Tom, a song kept playing into the chaos of my mind. “People all over the world, join hands. Let’s start a Love Train, Love Train.” It gave me hope.

In the ordeal by press this week, where my real thoughts were turned on their head, spread nationally, reporters knocking on my door and phoning day and night, I am grateful to the editor of the Solihull News for inviting me to write a piece about Forgiveness.

Having suffered badly from this I ask that no reporters contact us again, and pay us the respect of looking at any cycle safety issue without using our loss.

Many caring friends have said “Don’t take it personally, that’s just what the world is like”. But it was personal, because it was about persons.

I am reminded of the classic screeching voice of the mother in ‘Life of Brian’, ‘Not personal? Not personal? How much more personal can you get?’ The ownership of the word personal needs to go back to the person affected, not stay with the intention.

Everything we all do over the course of a day has a personal effect for good or ill. Better I think to say instead ‘I did or didn’t mean to hurt you’, or ‘I was careless, and didn’t give you a thought when I acted. I’m sorry now.’

It is in this way that close friends and family of Tom, have all found peace in the fact that the driver pleaded guilty, lives with remorse, is affected by the tragic accident and handed back his taxi licence.

When I was interviewed for the original piece, I declined to comment about the sentence, thinking it was to be about Tom’s life as a local boy. But I wish to express my own views on it now as a final answer to those who believe I am outraged at the Law and Society for letting us down.

I don’t think the law could have imposed a higher penalty than for the driver to live with the consequences of the tragedy.

The fact that it wasn’t imposed, but rather felt, means we can let go of the anger and honour Tom far better. If remorse had had to be won from a stiff punishment, I’d have kept my anger never knowing if it had been achieved in the years to come.

Neither do I despair at Society. We are society, personally and individually. Through our tragedy and now this trauma I have been brought to my very lowest and now realise I have no control over life’s events whatsoever.

I’ve realised too that I can’t speak for anyone else, but only for myself. And I was left with a very humbling truth - that the only things I have control over are my own intentions and actions.

During the week I phoned the doctor and the vicar, to which my sister said, “Good. Help for Body and Soul”. If the soul is the home of all our intentions, the body is the vehicle through which we act them out.

Tom wore a personally customised T Shirt as a hippy at a fancy dress ball, which read ‘Make Love, Not War. Blondes not Bombs, Redheads not Warheads, Brunettes not Fighter Jets’.

We are all, men and women from all over world, one of those. I would like us to drop our weapons and pointing fingers, because I haven’t the stomach for any more of it, and take personal responsibility for looking honestly at our own driving, words written or spoken, and to forgive others, knowing we are part of one family and are ourselves forgiven.

Tom loved life with joy, laughter and a lightness of spirit, and everyone he met became a personal friend. He will always be loved so much by so many.

 

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