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There have been a number of high profile deaths in the news recently: starting with Lemmy from Motorhead, followed by David Bowie and ending with Alan Rickman last week.

I was never a particular fan of any of them, but they served as a familiar backdrop to the ongoing story of my own life, so it will seem strange not to have them around any more.

There was also the news of the death of my good friend Richard Stainton, which I first heard about on Facebook.

What was particularly poignant about this for me is that I have recently moved onto a new postal round which includes Richard’s address. I was looking forward to knocking on his door one day with a parcel and saying hello.

What all of these deaths do is to remind us how fragile we are, and how tentative our hold on this life.

All of them were relatively young. Lemmy was the oldest at 70. Rickman and Bowie were both 69.

I’m not sure how old Richard was, but the last time I saw him, not long before Christmas, he seemed in good health, so the news of his death came as a complete shock.

Alan Rickman and Richard were both staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause and members of the Labour Party. Richard had just rejoined after a long absence, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership.

That’s another thing I was looking forward to: chatting to Richard about our hopes for the future now that we have a real opposition again.

I feel no compunction making these political points on the occasion of the death of my friend as I know that they were central to his sense of identity.

He was a great campaigner for justice and for peace, and I’m sure that our town will miss him very much.

Most notably, he was instrumental in getting the peace bench built on the beach, which he used regularly as a focus for his activities.

It will stand as a lasting memorial, not only to Brian Haw, but to Richard Stainton as well.

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The Whitstable Gazette.
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