A lot of times, I’ve observed with charities you find the ‘What’ being the driving force, the ‘What’ is the predominant thing in people’s minds. “What exactly are you doing” “What will the money be going towards” or “What difference are you making”. The why often seems to be put on the back burner.
But the why is the passion, it’s the constant motivation, the why is the starting point but it’s also central to everything that a charity does.
It’s central to everything we do.
And our why is named Andy. And I want to spend this second post talking to you about our why, because to me it’s the most important part. Why we are doing this leads directly to what we are doing….we cannot have the what without the why, so I’ll start there.
Andrew Charles Martin, older brother to Paul and Jenny, little brother to Debbie, son of Alison and Nick. Who was born into this world on October 28th 1999.
He came unaware of the monumental difference he would make, the love he would receive and the inspiration he would be to so many.
I wanted to post this today, because today we mark 8 months since we said our goodbye to Andy.
So who was Andy? When he was born it was clear he had special needs, but medical professionals were yet unsure of the extent of these. Netherless his parents, grandparents and older sister Debbie (4 years old at the time) loved him to pieces. These initial problems however developed and became further complex as he grew older. He was then classed as profoundly disabled, for Andy this meant countless medical appointments and several major surgeries. But to his family it just meant patience in busy and not always understanding hospitals.Nevertheless Andy faced these with pure bravery and determination, overcoming situations which sometimes seemed hopeless, inspiring us all along the way, showing us that overcoming the odds should stop being a surprise to us where Andy was concerned. Every time he would go into hospital I remember receiving an anxious text from Debbie, fear echoed in her words that Andy had been rushed in again, and the problem was yet again unclear, fear would also seize my heart for my friend and for Andy. But every time Andy would pull through, time after time, and after a while I began to say “Don’t worry, that little Boy is fighter and you know that every time these things are thrown his way he’ll overcome them no matter the odds” and he did.
(There’s that cheeky sense of humour)
Andy had severe brain damage and was also partially deaf and blind and suffered from epilepsy. However none of these things ever impounded on his love of music. Throughout his life Andy made incredible progress with his awareness and improved his talents endlessly. He loved sensory lights and his water therapy, but his passion was music, and it was a very rare occurrence when he was seen without an instrument making as much noise as possible, his instruments of choice being of course the tambourine, or the xylophone. During his time at Penhurst School, his development was unbelievably enhanced, and it was amazing to watch him develop into a gorgeous and inspiring young teenager.
I wanted to now use words that are not my own, ones I feel can convey more than I ever could. The words of his older sister…
“With Andy life seemed to make sense, I would spend hours sitting with him, just to be near him. It made me peaceful and content and he never failed to bring my heart back to what was really important about life… Love.”
Devastatingly their family and all of us that knew him were only to spend 13 years with him, but what an incredible journey those years were, a journey I have honoured to have been just a small part of. Though those 13 years have come to an end, for Debbie the honour of being his sister will never end, the same as the honour of knowing him will never fade.
“He taught me how to live my life, without ever uttering a word. He moulded my heart to search for love, happiness and joy despite whatever I was facing. His powerful strength gave me the courage to keep going”
Andy is our why, he is the reason behind everything we do, he is not just the starting point from which we take off. That’s why our charity is called Andy’s Beat, we are carrying on the beat he started in all of our hearts, and the hearts of everyone he met. There were many medical terms used to describe him….but what defined him was the love he gave and the love he was shown and the smile he brought to so many faces. He was so much more than the obstacles life put upon him.
It didn’t take long for him to capture your heart, he didn’t need to talk for you to been drawn to him, for him to make you break out in a grin or peals of laughter. For me Andy’s beat is the memory of Andy banging away on the I-pad drum kit, smashing the cymbals and drums in no rhythmic or musical composition but still capturing the room and everyone in it. That was Andy’s literal beat, the beat of his drum and the beat of his cymbal that was heard so often.
Andy the little boy, the son, the brother, the drummer, the tambourine lover. He is our why and he could not be more important or more central to us as a charity. And that is why we are Andy’s Beat. We wanted to take the beat he started and lead it on to do something that could really change things, all inspired by the little boy we love so much.
Again I want to use Debbie’s words to sum these feelings up:
“I hope to spend my life making this boy proud. I feel so privileged to be Andy’s older sister, to have spent the majority of my life surrounded by such an incredible person, and to have experienced all he did. It was a true honour, and one I will continue to feel for the rest of my life.”
For those of you reading this that had the privilege to know Andy then think about what his beat is to you. For those of you that never had the chance to be inspired by his music I hope that this article can explain to you our inspiration