Heroes

There are very few people that I have considered to be one of my personal heroes. In many ways I think it can be an unhealthy thing to put too much stock in strangers.

Having said that – Terry Pratchett was one of my heroes. I started reading his books in 1988. I asked for the first four Discworld books as a present not long after Mort was published. I don’t think I’d ever laughed as much as that before in my life.

Over the years his writing only improved, his world got richer and his recurring characters grew and deepened. Through all that he was one of the most important influences in shaping my worldview. He was warm, sane and funny. He was human and humane – a reassurance that there is more to the world than bullies, blowhards, and the greedy.

That alone would have been enough to make him a hero but the thing that made him even more important to me was the way he handled his diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers. His willingness to use his status to promote understanding of dementia and his fierce defence of the right to die with dignity mattered.

This was personal. Until the tail end of last year dementia had been hovering over my family for years and to know that someone I already respected not only understood the frustrations and horrors but was willing to help out others while having to live through that personal decline meant and means so much to me.

Thank you for everything Terry.