So who was Andy?
Andy Lees was and is an inspiration. He died far too young at just 38 in December 2013 suffering a massive brain haemorrhage in the night at the Leonard Cheshire home in Sileby where he lived. Here he is a few years ago when he was still looking pretty well. I think this was on a trip with Headway. More about that another time …
There is so much that could be said about the things Andy was and did in his short life, but I’ll start with who he was for me … Andy was my big brother, always there for me, looking out for me. Here we are, two little cherubs back in 1977 (or rather one dumpy little cherub with his much more handsome older brother!)
When we were children, we were like chalk and cheese, so different in character and interest. Andy was car-mad, fit and athletic, practical and helpful around the house. You’d be forgiven for thinking we could never be brothers. We fell out a lot, and bizarrely, although he was definitely the stronger of the two of us, Andy was the one who often came off worse, whether it was a black eye from a cricket ball (my bad playing!) or losing the end of his finger in his bike chain (again my fault!) or concussing himself on the radiator sledging down the stairs in a sleeping bag (okay, so that one was his idea!)
Even though we had our differences, it was Andy who would protect me from the bigger kids who seemed to see me as an easy target. And it was the same much later in life. He tried to reassure me and tell me everything would all be alright when I went to give him the news our dad had died from a heart attack in August 2013, even when he himself was lying seriously ill in a hospital bed.
For a number of years in our twenties, we didn’t see a lot of each other, but I will forever be grateful that we reconnected in our thirties and came to see that we had more in common than we would ever have thought possible.