Sadly there have been significant difficulties between Moira and I since the diagnosis of the Brain Tumour.  As expected Moira has asked to separate.  As she has requested I have quietly left the house and children with her as their mother.  This was a promise that we had both made to the children.  That they would stay in Doune and that they would stay at McLaren High as they are so very happy in Doune and at McLaren High and have a great group of friends around them. I have been very lucky in bumping into a friend from Dumfries who was up in Doune for the day to look at selling his Mother’s old flat in Doune.  I was the first person he bumped into that morning so God was clearly answering my prayers as I searched fruitlessly for some alternative accommodation.  So I now have somewhere close by that I can call home.

Sadly I have heard of rumour circulating.  All I can ask is that you let all that you have seen me do with your own eyes and all that you have heard me say with your own ears be all the truth that you seek.

Please don’t be mad or sad.  Instead pray that this separation away from me and the disease will make Moira happy. Because Moira being happy will dissipate the brewing dark clouds of anger and bitterness leading instead to clear air in to which the children can grow to become happy and healthy young adults and that, will make me glad. 

Please don’t feel torn.  There will always be an Archie and Moira as parents to the children and friends to you should you so wish.

 As I stared this impending separation full in the face my concerns naturally fell towards the children.  Although we have kept even the very suggestion of a prognosis away from the children they are not stupid and have become increasingly aware that Brain Tumours can be terminal.   I have, several times, had to console the children with promises that whatever happens with the disease that I will always be close by.  As I hugged them through the sobs and tears, holding them close, whispering gently in their ears that I will always be close by it seemed to reassure them.

So as I rode my bike a couple of weeks ago pondering my message to the children, to be given as I leave the house in order to reassure them the following poem came to me.  Line by line.  At first very annoyingly because with a brain like mine if you don’t write it down you’ve lost it.  So as each line came to me I had to stop.  Fetch out my phone and tap in the line of the poem.  Cycle on.  Another line.  Stop find the phone and type it in to the phone.  Again and again and again and again.  I was quite pleased with the end result which did I think cover both bases of the separation and the disease.  

The morning before the children went on their school skiing trip in Italy, during which it was expected that the separation would have been agreed, I hand wrote, in my best fountain pen, a card to each of the children into which I also wrote the poem and then gave to the children when we had what we thought was going to be our final breakfast together.  Moira very kindly left me alone with the children for that breakfast and as they opened the cards and started reading their faces told me very clearly that it is a long time since they had last tried to read some normal handwriting.  I offered to read them the card which they were very keen for me to do and when I finished with watery eyes they looked up, closed the cards, smiled at me and nodded.  They thanked me and hugged me before heading off for their skiing trip.  They understood perfectly well.  That I will always be close by.

‘So to my children it’s time to say goodbye.
But please don’t be mad.
It’s not your fault and that is not a lie.
Please don’t be sad.
I am not going to move far away.
In fact, I’m going to stay close by:
To be there for you when you cry,
To inspire and encourage you when you sigh,
To cheer you when you score a try,
To be in an audience watching and exclaiming oh my!!,
So find your passions and chase them don’t be shy.
But be humble, and keep the needs of others held in your heart high. 
I hope to watch you grow, and grow, and grow, until you fly,
But if you can no longer see me when you fly,
Don’t worry. Look up. I’ll be with our Lord on high. 
Looking down at you with a smile in my eye. 
I will always be close by.
Your ever loving Daddy xx’

I just felt you ought to know as all is changing so quickly but not to worry.  The children are really well and managing incredibly well with the wonderful support of the Stirling Young Carers, McLaren High School and their parents and friends.  The challenge will continue in every way I can manage it and I have a head bubbling full of ideas for the future so please don’t change the channel!!

I have been through an awful lot over the last three years:

  1. Buying a house.
  2.  Leaving the Army and adjusting to civvi street.
  3. Setting up a Not for Profit ‘The Future Nation Foundation’ with a dear friend.
  4. Being given a diagnosis for two vicious diseases caused by a blunt force trauma sustained during my service 12 to 15 years ago.
  5. Being given a Prognosis and having to deal with the anguish such news brings.
  6. Fighting to regain my balance after surgery to remove the Cholesteatoma which resulted in the loss of my inner ear.
  7. Having to resign as a Director of the Future Nation Foundation as my diagnosis and treatment was holding back funding offers for the foundation.
  8. Setting up an e-commerce business ‘Doune Hall’ in order to ensure an income for the family which Moira could manage from home and so be there for the children when I go. 
  9. Brain Surgery.
  10. Closing down ‘Doune Hall’ just as it started to gain traction as Moira declared that she had no interest in taking on the business when I go.
  11.   The loss of my Father to Cancer.
  12.   Fighting to control the Epilepsy caused by the Brain Tumour and it’s vicious auras resultant from partial seizures.
  13.  30 sessions of Radiotherapy.
  14.  12 monthly cycles of Chemotherapy.
  15. The loss of a friend, made during treatment, to his Brain Tumour.
  16. The loss of my Godfather to Blood Cancer.
  17. Fighting through the emotional desperation of being told that you are no longer wanted.
  18. Finding somewhere else to live with little resource.

Yet through it all I have managed to keep a sane head, smile and cook and care for Heather and James and try and provide a positive role model for them to aspire to, for them to hang on to as their memories of happier times cloud over or dim over time once I am gone.


My faith and the path it led me on to with the challenge and the renewed focus it has given me have been largely the reasons for managing to deal with all of this as it hit me event after event after event but it is also my friends and family that have given me the strength and encouragement to keep going so please stay with me as it is friends and family that I need right now and that will help me find the important things again at a time when I think that I might have lost them… things like my smile, my hope and my courage.  (based on a quote by Doe Zantamata)

As I rest to allow my ribs and liver, damaged recently in a fall on the Ochils, to heal I will also hopefully finalise the purchase of the flat or another property.  But I also need to try and maintain my healing journey so will ensure I do some good quality motor and cognitive training each and every day while eating properly.  I will not allow myself to descend into a miserable heap on the floor.  Once settled in permanent accommodation my focus will resume entirely on to the more adventurous challenge activity.

I am so sorry to have had to bring you such bad news but I promise you that the children are well cared for and that I will continue to carry a message of hope to all who want to hear it.

I won’t cry over the past, it’s gone. I won’t stress over the future, it hasn’t arrived. I am going to live in the present and make the most of every day. I shall believe in the Lord to renew my strength; I shall mount up with wings as Eagles; I shall run like a deer and not be weary; I shall walk the long path and not faint. I will make the children proud, give them more happy memories and something to aspire too. The challenge continues with new ideas and adventures to start very soon. I have a flat to finalise and sort out first!

Yours aye