I SCATTERED the ashes of a good friend a few weeks ago around the base of a tree in the new Arboretum established in Hampton-in-Arden. I couldn’t help noticing how many other local families have chosen to remember their loved ones in this way.
It lies just off Shadowbrooke Lane and with gently sloping fields surrounded by remnants of the Arden forest, it is a peaceful spot for the bereaved to reflect on those they have lost.
Wally Austin was not a relative of mine but had a big impact on my work as an MP. He moved to Chelmsley Wood when it was newly built and raised his family there. He helped me understand better the community spirit of the place. The excitement of moving out of the city; the battle for work as manufacturing declined; the tight knit community where people look out for each other and help out. He called me “bob”, a Brummie term of affection, which made me feel accepted.
As a stand up comedian, he made me laugh even when life has been rough. I could never have been made so welcome in a working man’s club without Wally’s hospitality, his wit and good nature helping me gain acceptance and provide advice to others.