Martin walked into our project in August 2010; he was looking for help. Martin was a guy that everyone easily warmed to; he was unassuming yet friendly, and on the outside, Martin appeared happy and relatively well. But the internal suffering was hidden, and this is one of the most difficult challenges of this illness.
Martin tried on numerous occasions to tackle what people described as ‘his demons’, and he genuinely wanted to be the person that people saw on the outside. As workers, CRO’s, volunteers and people in recovery, we walk alongside people, we make suggestions, we offer guidance and we try to show that there is a way of living with a peaceful mind; mostly we offer hope. Whilst we believe Martin could see this around him, it is sometimes difficult to see it for ourselves. Sadly, Martin couldn’t see it, and was to find his only peace in death on 9th March 2011.
We know that the illness of addiction is indiscriminate and to ask the question, ‘Why Martin?’ doesn’t bring us answers. Martin was wrapped up in the love of his family and friends and Martin appeared to have a life that others would envy. Our role at TBRP is to raise awareness of the indiscrimination and challenge the stigma of addiction and mental health.
For those who had the great pleasure to call Martin a friend, he provided us with endless hours of happiness, love, laughter and music. Whether it was with his brother Mick, and Digger, as the legendary McGinley’s, as a founder member of The Donkees or, on his own with a guitar, Martin had a talent that was unique, endearing, and surpassed only by his modesty.
Martin took such pleasure from music and the company of his many, many friends. His encouragement and appreciation of others music was a mark of his generosity. Quick to praise and even quicker to smile and always with a twinkle in his eye.
Earlier this year, in a desire to mark Martin’s memory, his brother Mick enlisted the help of his and Marty’s friends to form a committee in order to put on a music event and at the same time raise a little money for TBRP, a few hundred pounds would be great, a £1000 would be fantastic.
From the very first meeting it became obvious this was not going to be a little gathering and a sing-song around a log fire. There were soon three bands signed up, then five and by the next meeting it had grown to seven and then nine. There was talk, detailed talk about hosting the event outside, with bouncy castles, ice cream vans and a whole host of stalls and activities but by the time this had all been explored; health and safety issues looked into, parking, security, insurance etc. it was soon realised this would take a lot more planning. So plans were scaled back and the event was planned for 27th May at the Arden Road Social Club. No sooner than the date had been announced and a Facebook page created, people were signing up for tickets. The plan to print posters had to be scrapped as tickets were sold out even before they went to print.
The event itself, well you had to be there to really witness the atmosphere, but it was an outstanding success and has so far raised over £5,500 for TBRP. The total amount will be announced soon on the FB page www.facebook.com/martinshappydays. There seems to be an overwhelming desire to put on a show next year and I do hope it is at a bigger venue and not limited to 500 tickets.
I think Basement’s CEO, Michelle sums up the day perfectly:
“I have been asked to reflect on Sunday’s event, Martin’s Happy Days. I met a guy from one of the bands in the early evening, and he asked me what I thought of the day and how I thought it was going. It was hard to find the words. I could see the sharing of personal emotions all day; bittersweet feelings for Martin, his family and his friends. Anyone who was there could feel it. I was amazed at how 500 people had turned out, full of smiles, friendliness, fun and good humour, and I was, as I said, stuck for words. Then the guy hit the nail on the head as we were discussing the possibility of a bigger event for next year and the potential of people attending who were ‘strangers’. He described this first coming together for Martin as a community connected – how everyone in the room had a connection to either Martin or someone else who knew Martin, and that’s what made it so special. When I did finally find my words, I told him I was overwhelmed and indescribably humbled. I couldn’t believe that so many people had come to help our little project in Halifax.
Not many people give of their time or their money to support our cause and to be among such people was just amazing. From a personal point of view, I had had the best day I could remember in a long time; a day without worries, just relaxing and having my own Happy Day. I know everyone who attended would say the same. On behalf of TBRP I would like to thank all the family and friends who have pulled off this wonderful event, but mostly I would like to thank Martin for giving us all another Happy Day.”
For more information visit: www.martinshappydays.com
Compiled by Heath
Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 3