Day 79 was adopted by Sara’s colleagues at Oxford, and Ulla explains below what they are up to and why:
What I’d really want to do today is to take Sara for a knees-up in London. Tequilas and all. That plan is still very much going to materialise but for now it will need to wait. Today we are doing something more constructive, as a collective of Sara’s colleagues. Various people from our group at Oxford have adopted days individually or in groups but we felt it was important to come together as a whole group too to adopt a day in support for Sara, and in Connor’s memory.
Let’s get one thing out there; Sara is one sublime academic. Many people following her blog online might not be as aware of her incredible academic standing and achievements, and the unparalleled speed and integrity with which her career has developed, under not a remotely standard set of circumstances. I personally have never met an academic quite as creative, engaged, straight-talking, believable, productive, inclusive and unassuming as Sara. Oh and did I say productive? She sits outside the box. If you check on Wikipedia (not that we’d ever do that), there’s Sara’s reluctant photo next to ‘lateral thinking’ (her picture is probably next to ‘publishing at speed’ too). Sara, like Connor, is one special person to know and to work with.
Our work is about listening to people’s stories, giving people space and respect and helping other people hear those stories. This, in essence, is what we hope that Day 79 will go towards achieving. We want to help more people hear Connor’s story. To listen and to act. What we are doing is hosting a ‘Buses, Cake and Prosecco’ event at our department, The Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, on June 6. Connor loved buses, we love Prosecco and everyone loves cakes. Luring fellow academics and health professionals in with some cake is of course only a cover. What we really want to do is make everyone aware of Connor’s story, the appalling state of provision for young learning disabled people at our doorstep and to raise more awareness of and funds for #justiceforLB.
Not everyone in our group ever got to meet Connor, now everyone wishes they’d had. Most of us were in the office the day he died, gathered on the sofas for the devastating news, most went to his funeral and everyone has been shaken to the core. Many of us think of Sara’s and Richard’s pain every day, when we share a coffee or grab a sandwich together at lunchtime. When we read a new paper that triggers a thought or at the bus stop, waiting for the red bus. It’s not always said out loud but we always, always care. And that’s why we adopted Day 79.