Tuesday, 30 March 2010

6 YEARS AND 12 MONTHS IN THE LIFE OF ..............

6 years ago today I lost my most precious son Neil at the age of 26 years who for reasons known only to himself felt that life was no longer worth living. But, it should have been. He was dearly loved and had so very much going for him.

Nothing can ever prepare a parent for the death of a child, more so when that child takes his own life. Through the very long, bleak period that followed I often felt that the only way that I would be able to cope would be to go down that same route, but how could I subject those close to me to the same despair that I felt.

However I changed forever- spiritually I was strong, emotionally I was weak, but life took on a new dimension. People were important, material possessions were not. Despite being in a dark place, I was also in a better place.
5 years on, which was this time last year, a politician whom we all know as Senator James Perchard made a comment to a fellow Senator in the States Chamber suggesting he take his own life by ‘slitting his wrists’. Naturally this caused an outrage, and became quite a high profile issue.

It was then that I let my personal feelings be known on Stuart Syvret’s blog. I had never looked at a blog site let alone post a comment on one, but it was such a good outlet for my feelings. As a result of what I had written I was contacted by CTV to see if I would give them an interview regarding Mr Perchard’s behaviour. With great trepidation I agreed, as the whole affair had brought everything back fresh to my mind, especially being so close to the anniversary of Neil’s death.
On this day last year, and exactly 5 years to the day after my son took his life I gave CTV my thoughts on Mr Perchard’s ill-judged and un-statesmanlike comments. Little did I know what strength this gave to me.

I had always felt, in all my years of living in Jersey that there was something inherently wrong with the Government of the Island, and indeed moved away for five and a half years and spent some happy time in the UK. However, deciding things could not be any worse here than they were before I left for several reasons I decided to return only to find that in fact the grass was NOT going to be greener here.
However, having a bit more courage no doubt given to me by the anger and dismay that the ‘suicide’ episode had given me, I decided one day to venture into the Royal Square after a States sitting when I thought maybe Mr Perchard may do the decent thing and resign and also approach him myself to speak with him face to face.
Whilst ‘loitering’ in the Square I started talking to a gentleman who was also standing about and I told him why I was there. We chatted and he told me that he knew of a lady who had lost her son through suicide and how it had devastated her. Little did I know at this time that this gentleman was also called Neil, and furthermore the person he was referring to was me.

I had been aware that my Neil had made a special friendship with someone through a joint love of the sea and fishing. This person had supported him and welcomed him into his family unit so much so that he preferred to spend his last Christmas with this family rather than with me in the U.K. He loved this little family very much, a fact of which I was very aware. I met them briefly at Neil’s funeral, but the day was so traumatic for me I had little chance to speak at length with them.
Quite by chance, and through subsequent postings on Stuart Syvret’s blog we both realised who we were and what the mutual connection was. Was this coincidence, or was it meant to be? I think the latter, in fact I firmly believe my Neil had a little plan.

Since meeting Neil (No 2 as I will call him), I have been able to enlighten myself more on the political issues that we have in Jersey. I have been able to freely voice my opinions on VFC and Senator Syvret’s blog. I have even been to demonstrations and marches, something I would never have dreamt I would have done 13 months ago.

So, I felt that out of something bad, something good had emerged. I met new people, made new friends, whose friendships I value very much, and I found a new strength of purpose. Maybe this was what I needed to keep myself focussed. Maybe the strength of the friendship of the ‘two Neils’ and the coincidence of me meeting with Neil No 2 was meant for a purpose. Maybe it was Senator Perchard’s ill conceived remarks that had brought me to this place in a strange round-about way. Senator Perchard, as a consequence lost his position as Health Minister, therefore as far as I was concerned the matter was finished.

............until Sunday 28th March 2010. Senator Perchard took everybody by surprise on live radio to launch into a personal attack on Neil No 2, who through health reasons and a physical disability is unable to work on a full time basis. This disability ironically was as a result of an accident when working. Senator Perchard’s attitude was that people like this ‘on benefits’ should get off their backsides and look for work, they had too much time on their hands did not use it constructively but spent it constantly criticising the States. It was a nasty, vicious, uncalled for attack on a family man who also happens to be a friend of mine. I found it very hurtful, so I can only imagine how his wife and family must have felt, let alone having his personal circumstances broadcast to anybody who was listening.

So, 12 months on Senator Perchard has still not learnt of tact, diplomacy, humanity and the behaviour that we should expect from our States Members. The arrogance with which he feels he can make and get away with these type of remarks beggars belief, let alone the personal hurt that this causes people, not just those he chooses to attack, but the far reaching impact it has on others in similar circumstances.

When you are sitting in the States Chamber, chewing gum and looking totally bored with the proceedings, when you are off to India watching cricket when the States are sitting, do you really have no conscience taking £40+k from the people who pay your salary, when you deny a man his right to disability benefit.
I know what my son would have said to you had he still been here, because he had a very strong sense of decency and morals.

RESIGN before you do any more harm, because I dread to think what you will throw at somebody in another 12 months time.

Neil No 2 – keep up your good work, you are worth more than your detractors will ever be.

Neil Antony Gracia
Rest in Peace Neil – you are still loved and remembered, not only by me, but by all who knew and loved you.
Your Mum x


  1. Jill.

    There is never a day that passes where Neil is not in my thoughts.

    Neither is there a day that passes where I don't gain strength and determination from you. You are a true inspiration, who has endured something no parent ever should and have gone on to make other peoples lives all the better for it.

    I don't do heroes, but if I did, you would be right up there.

    R.I.P Neil, Love you, and miss you like crazy mate, will come and have a word with you tomorrow.

  2. Hi Jill

    Huge love and hugs. Take care and catch up soon.


  3. I know how devastating the loss of a loved one is, and Senator Perchard, alas, seems to typify a kind of politician that shows no empathy with the suffering of others.

    Unfortunately that probably means he won't get the message to retire at the next election either.

  4. sending big hugs to ya Jill.x

    Neil keep up the great work.

    With Luv


  5. Jill, many people's thoughts are with you, you are to be admired you have found strength in your loss to support those who need support even though your hurting inside.

    Indeed any elected representative who has no social conscience should be sacked immediately, having said that I would think that would apply to 'most' elected politicians in Jersey. In most democratic countries this man would have been sacked long ago.

    Keep strong,

    The Ally.

  6. Hi Jill,

    My thoughts are with you, Keep strong.


  7. Jill

    If it's any consolation - your Neil would be proud of your strength.

    Out of sadness, good things can grow - if people have the strength.

    It is my hope that the strength exhibited by you - and other people - like Neil # 2 - like Dannie - Like Carrie - Like James - like Paul - like Darren - like Chris - like so, so many others - will start getting through to a majority of States members.

    Some of our politicians - like Bob - are leading the way - but so far, too few are following the path of simple decency.

    Let us be optimistic - and hope that the usually passive majority of States members - can learn from the examples set by ordinary brave, decent individuals - and become stronger in doing what is obviously right.


  8. Jill, I have never met you nor did I have the privilege to meet your wonderful son but you are a real inspiration to so many people with your quiet dignity and your real insight into what is happening on our beautiful island. My thoughts and prayers are with you today. Your support for Neil "number 2" is very well deserved and thank you so much for that. Jimmy Perchard is an idiot and a disgrace.

    I have lost two young people that I loved to suicide so I am able to feel empathy for that extraordinarily cruel loss. My beautiful bridesmaid and cousin who took her life 33 years ago aged 14 and lovely, warm, cheeky Michael O'Connell who was also 14 when he took his life over 40 years ago to avoid returning to HDLG.

    Neil, Rosie and Michael - eternal love and peace


  9. Jill, Lorna, and so many others who were insulted by the ramblings of that wreckless fool, Jimmy Perchard.

    You have all conducted yourselves with impecable dignity and restraint, unlike him. Your courage and fortitude is to be admired and revered.

    Be at peace.

    Kindest regards Ian xxx

  10. Hi Jill.

    I would just like to say how sorry I feel about your loss of your son.
    We all have felt the lost of someone at sometime & it never gets easier.
    But it you have found an outlet that gives you strength, in our fight for the Truth. You have found a very strong person in Neil who did know your son & is not one to just give up.
    May you grow With your new found Strength.


  11. My dear, friend Jill, your post has brought tears to my eyes, you are truly a brave and courageous lady with whom I have the utmost respect for. If it wasn’t for people like you, I would have given up this fight a long time ago!!! I wish that I had met Neil, he would have loved to hear about our rebellious ladies lunches we have oh so infrequently!! Note to diary, must increase lunch dates with Jill!! Seriously though, you are one special lady and I am so proud to be able to call you my friend. xxx

    Surely to God JP’s position in the States is now untenable; how dare he attack someone so venomously live on radio, he should and must resign immediately. Neil is a good person who is only trying to get to the truth and should never have been attacked like this. Disgusting!!!


  12. Well done for speaking out, Jill.

    I was disgusted by the way Jimmy Pilchard spoke to Neil #2. Sadly it seems that these things go unnoticed and/or are quickly forgotten. People will have to be reminded at the next election he puts himself up for.

  13. I have recieved a comment that refers to ‘Team Stupid’

    As readers will be aware, I run a zero tolerence stance on Trolls but am going to make an expception here.

    The commenter refers to the headline of today's JEP. Now, i'll do this chap/chappess a deal.

    If you can quote ANYTHING from the Wiltshire Report, that doesn't mean quote ILM it means The Wiltshire Report. If you can quote anything you have seen in the Wiltshire Report, I'll publish your daft comment........deal?

  14. I remember this. It was a pretty stupid thing to say. Look at how many people have been wound up by Syvret to date and why is it only Jimmy Perchard that bites? Can't he handle it?