Magic and Loss

I’ve read that grief is the shadow love casts in the light of loss, and this past year has been lived in the shadow left by the loss of Ian Findlay. As leader, mentor, friend, and colleague Ian touched the lives of everyone that he worked with, and in those first weeks after his sudden death it was hard to focus on anything but his absence.

Ian was loved by many and was taken too soon, which is perhaps why the shadow has felt so large for so long. A year on and the tears still come easily and often unexpectedly, prompted by a stray word in a meeting, or his last emails appearing as I search through my inbox because I cannot delete them.

The last year has been relentless and overwhelming, but, whilst at times I’ve felt heavy with loss for Ian, there have been moments of magic. We have seen the active travel sector in Scotland achieve its ambition of securing 10% of the transport budget for walking, wheeling and cycling, helping us become the country we want to be. Many people and organisations contributed their energy, time and expertise to help us reach this, advocating for the disruptive power for walking and cycling for over a decade. Ian was at the centre of this work, pushing hard inside the system and ensuring the campaigning community knew it also had his heartfelt support.

Ian gave his time generously, led with compassion and kindness, listened and provided thoughtful views. His passion for the outdoors, for physical activity and the natural world were inspiring and he radiated the vitality of an active life that was lived to the full.

In some of his last emails to me Ian talked of the recent loss of his mother, not speaking of his own grief but of gratitude for the way his family has been treated by the doctors and nurses involved in her final days. That is how I will remember him, as someone that valued kindness and could find positivity and a cause for optimism wherever he looked.

Tomorrow I will, like many in Scotland’s third sector, #WalkForIan, and remember him with love and gratitude – not just for the profound difference he made on the walking, cycling and health agendas in Scotland but the impact he had on us.

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