Sad farewell to dear friend

WEST Ham MP Lyn Brown, discusses the death of a friend and councillor, and potentially life-saving health checks in her exclusive Recorder column. She writes: LAST WEEK I went to the funeral of a friend, Simon Tucker, 48, a councillor in the Royal Docks

WEST Ham MP Lyn Brown, discusses the death of a friend and councillor, and potentially life-saving health checks in her exclusive Recorder column.

She writes:

LAST WEEK I went to the funeral of a friend, Simon Tucker, 48, a councillor in the Royal Docks Ward in Newham. It was a very sad and bleak day.

I had known Simon since his days as a councillor in Waltham Forest where I worked. There he had responsibility for the voluntary sector and together we worked to build and promote a night shelter (for street homeless people) and a credit union. His political support and drive was invaluable, without it neither scheme would have got off the ground.


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Simon had a deep and sincere concern for those less fortunate than himself and went many extra miles to help someone in need. He also had a naughty sense of humour and was good fun to be with. I have spent many enjoyable hours with him, over dinner and drinks, both laughing and joking and also in deep and challenging conversation. I am going to miss Simon - he was a good and generous man who loved deeply, laughed loudly and above all else, wanted to make a real and positive difference to those he met along the way. I mourn his passing but am proud to have known him and called him my friend. He did make a positive difference in this world, a world he left the richer for simply being in it.

I have been talking to constituents about health issues over the past months at my regular coffee mornings. We have discussed GP and preventative healthcare services, our experiences of Newham General and ways that the Government should help people to be and stay healthy. It has been, on the whole, a really positive experience with many residents talking in glowing terms about their GP's and their recent good experiences at the hospital.

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I have been very grateful to the PCT locally who have provided mini health checks for residents who come along, a small way of thanking people for their time. It has been a big surprise to me that a significant number of people being checked are referred onto their doctor for further tests and support, a good proportion of whom have high blood sugar levels.

And more worrying still are those who have received DIY kits in the post to check against bowel cancer and not acted on them. At my first coffee morning I met a man who had been sent the bowel testing kit in the post. He returned the test to discover that he had Bowel cancer. As the diagnosis was early, it saved his life. If he had not taken advantage of the kit, he would not have known he had cancer and it's unlikely he would still be here today. There are two lessons for me in the above. The first is that we are responsible for our own health and well-being. We can't blame anyone or anything else for us not taking the time to look after ourselves. Many of the tools are at our disposal to live healthier and healthier longer lives than ever before. We need to use these tools and take advantage of opportunities available to us.

And the second message is that even a relatively short life can have a real and positive impact on people around them. I am going to miss Simon, but I am grateful to him for the life he lived and the impact he made.

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