I have mentioned Jo Gambi and her book “Holding on” a few times. If it wasn’t for Les Stocker (of Tiggywinkles fame) I would never have read this book or heard Jo talk. Les sadly died suddenly a week ago. He was a friend for a number of years although our paths had diverged in recent times.
I remember Les as a man with a great sense of humour, although it was sometimes difficult to tell when he was being serious; a man never knowingly politically correct; a man who would do anything to give an injured animal a second chance. Over the years we enjoyed his and his wife Sue’s company whether when on a trip to a local hostelry, an outing to Nature in Art in Gloucestershire, over a fish and chip supper or just over a cup of coffee. He and Sue also encouraged and supported the many young people who worked at Tiggywinkles, so his legacy is not just the wildlife hospital and his many books but also all the lives he has influenced over the years.
Les and I had a shared interest in photography although he made much more of it than I did with his many stunning wildlife photographs. I did however encourage him to make the step from film to digital images. One evening the local Photographic Society had organised a lecture which we had gone to (in the school at the bottom of our garden). It was there that we heard about another lecture being given by Jo Gambi. Details were a bit sparse, and I had no idea who Jo Gambi was, but we decided to go along anyway.
So a few weeks later Liz and I picked up Les and Sue and we toddled off to Thame where after a few wrong turns we found the lecture theatre and heard Jo talk about her exploits in a superbly illustrated talk. Afterwards I queued up to get a copy of her book which, as I have mentioned in previous posts, has the only description of what it is like to go through chemotherapy that I have read, as well as the best short description of climbing Everest I have found. I say short description because it is only part of the book – it also covers climbing the highest summits on the other six continents and skiing to both poles as well as Jo’s blossoming relationship with Rob, the man who became her husband. All things I would not have read about if it hadn’t been for Les Stocker, one of many memories of Les that I will be holding on to.