Walter James Wright
June 1943 - October 2011
Jim, a life long musician, was in his element. Along with some fifteen other participants he had brought his instrument of choice, a banjo, to join in a long session of spontaneous music without rules. It took me a while to get used to the free form of the evening. In the beginning people found their own level. As the bar filled with sometimes conflicting sounds, the large room seemed like an exciting experiment; guitars, mandolins, banjos, violins, even spoons fought to be heard.
As the evening wore on the individuals began to come together, playing collectively or individually pieces that they had mastered and wanted to share. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings of my life, particularly because I could sit and watch Jim concentrate on getting it right with his banjo; this in itself was a study in learning. But as well the evening brought back to me memories of the anarchy of collective learning and practice in different forms that I had witnessed during the libertarian politics of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
For a large part of his life, Jim with his wife Sandra, having won an episode of Opportunity Knocks — one of the original British TV talent shows hosted by the inimitable Hughie Green — toured the world playing pop and folk in unlikely places. Sandra was the singer in the band with a sharp and lilting voice.
When the band broke up, Jim embarked on a life's search for the truth', which included running a community church, making alternative medical treatments cheaply available, and finally, after Sandra's death from cancer, a year before his own, intense learning about spiritualism.But whatever else Jim did in his life,
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Jim always seemed to be full of energy; it shone from him as if he was running on batteries. At the same time, he was no one's fool, possessing that Welsh shrewdness that always made him give consideration to important questions. He was not a man of words, not a Welshman who could wax lyrical. He smiled a great deal, was often quiet, and usually happy.
His life was continually summed up by positive rather than negative thoughts such as ‘I enjoy my life so much’. He often surprised me with his brief statements and aphorisms, sometimes so unusual that they stung one into thought. Once when discussing family life with him, probably for my part moaning at the struggle it presented, he said, 'Our children were a joy to bring up, such a joy’. I had to look at him twice to check that he wasn't joking. He wasn't, this was Jim at his most transparent. He was in love with all those bits of life that we are all supposed to be in love with but rarely are.In the last
During their marriage Jim and Sandra brought up two children, Vanessa and Chris, both of whom have turned into talented adults. Vanessa, in her early thirties, married with a son and a daughter, gained a degree at Swansea University. Chris, who Jim says, appeared uninterested in his parents' music, when he was young, picked up a guitar at twelve and very quickly taught himself to play. With single-minded practice he worked his way into music school and proved to be a virtuoso guitarist.
I first met Jim in the same way that I have met a number of people over the last thirty years, when I offered my help in his legal case. In 2004 I looked at the case of a therapist in Wales who had been charged by the Medicines Control Agency (MCA, now the MHRA) after being ‘exposed’ in a BBC programme. Following up other of the ‘exposed’, I found Jim.
In Memoriam: Deborah Nash 1959 – 2012
Martin Walker on Friday, 30 November 2012 at 15:49 ·
Deborah Nash who died on Saturday 24th November was a committed parent campaigner for autistic children who had been affected by vaccine damage, a devoted mother and carer for her affected son David.
I met Deb and Jeremy through my five year involvement in the case of Dr Andrew Wakefield of whom Deb was a fervent supporter. Few of us can say that we know someone; it usually takes a lifetime to even become familiar with a stranger, let alone know them. People’s lives are many layered, stretched between public and private; nowhere is this more so than with carers and even more so with those who have autistic children.
Everyone has seen the soap, drama or film, where the woman, being chatted up by the man finally says, ‘There is something that I haven’t told you’, and proceeds to take a photo from her wallet, ‘I have a son’. Even in an enlightened age, a woman with a child at home is considered to be ‘burdened’. How much more so is this the case with those parents whose children have regressed into autism following vaccination. In these circumstances the great majority of the parents life is hidden by a draining domestic relationship, which most rarely talk about.
With some parents whose children were vaccine damaged by MMR – yet another factor enters into the equation – that draining domestic relationship is increased with the further burden of involvement in a life-sized battle with the pharmaceutical companies. None of this makes for easy conversation or for the better ‘knowing’ of someone. These factors have also frequently given me the impression that I don’t really ‘know’ any of the parents with whom I have worked.
Deborah Nash was an exception in respect of all of the above. In relation to her vaccine damaged autistic son David, she told me, an acquaintance, only what she thought I could cope with; she had humorous anecdotes for popular consumption, so as not to burden others. In relation to her struggle to right the injustice of vaccine damaged children and the fall-out from these cases, she was utterly focused. I have met few parents who were so ‘on track’ with this on-going struggle.
But perhaps what was most invigorating about Deb’s approach to the problems which she and other parents faced, was her understanding that the battle against the criminal conspiracy of the government and the pharmaceutical companies had to be continued whatever the pressures on parents of ‘caring for’ their damaged children.
The weight of caring born by parents of vaccine damaged children has in many cases begun to take precedent over the original cause of MMR related regressive autism and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. This is, of course, understandable: with parents facing an increasing burden as their children grow, it must be tempting for them to push into the background the original cause of their children’s condition.
Because of a lifetime heart problem — just after the birth of her daughter, in 1990 Deb had a mitral valve replacement — Deb had learnt how to pace herself and her thinking, her reflections were calm but considered and however strongly she felt about something, she didn’t appear to let her emotions run away with her. Given the way in which she, her family and her son had suffered, this was a remarkable achievement.
I first got to know Deb more deeply when she agreed to write a chapter for the first volume of Silenced Witnesses, published in 2008. There were finally two books which I edited and published. Each volume contained eight chapters written by parents. Deborah’s chapter in the first volume was titled ‘In the Presence of Strangers’, a comment on her son David’s desire to be alone in a quiet space. The title, however, describes much more than that, hinting at her own situation and that of Jeremy, her husband — amongst people who failed to understand.
Deb was so convinced about the value of the Silenced Witnesses books that she asked her own parents to write a chapter about their generational interest in her son David for the second volume. This second chapter, Our Children’s Children gives us an insight into the reverberating generational effect of vaccine damage.
Deb begins her chapter in Silenced Witnesses with the sentence: ‘For eleven years I have lived and breathed autism’. Having placed herself firmly in the community, part way through the chapter she makes clear her thinking about the importance of campaigning. ‘I felt it important to tell David’s story for the sake of all afflicted children, so that doctors and professors could have a complete picture of the damage involved and a good idea of the numbers of children affected.’ Here is one of the reasons that Deb was special, despite all the personal pain and pressures which had taken over her life, she continued to fight for others.
To me these two simple statements orientate the reader in the mind of the activist and her growth from affected parent to campaigner. Deb prided herself in having recorded every interview with Dr Wakefield and clipped every article about him in the press. There was no sycophancy here, just a judicious understanding of what an activist will need to draw upon in terms of records and information. Over a period of months Deb and Jeremy copied this voluminous and important archive so that I could draw on it for my writing. Despite the growth of a community around vaccine damage and Wakefield’s case, few had tackled this important task.
For the affected parent, the autism world is like any other sectional political campaigning world, unfortunately full of divisions, interests, feuds and misunderstandings. Deborah entertained few such divisive views. Those whom she defined as enemies of the cause were most decidedly the enemies of the cause, offenders against vaccine damaged, autistic children and parents alike; individuals like Brian Deer and organisations like the General Medical Council. Debs never stooped to personal insults, however, and in the last paragraph of ‘In the Presence of Strangers’, she defines those whom she feels have been responsible.
'The people who annoy me the most in this terrible tragedy, apart from Brian Deer, are those who tell me it didn’t happen, those who tell me that the MMR is safe and that either my son was always autistic or it was just a temporal coincidence, even while refusing to study him and all the other victims of this appalling affair.'
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Deborah Nash died on Saturday 24th November following a stroke which she suffered at 6.15pm on Friday 16th November, at home. She was operated on at Kings on Sat 17th but never regained consciousness dying a week later on the evening of Saturday November 24th.
Deborah Jane Nash will be remembered, within her family as a loving and committed mother to her autistic son David and her daughter Jennifer, as a stalwart partner to Jeremy and a good daughter to her parents Derek and Iris. To those like me who knew her more superficially she was a committed and active campaigner who never lost sight of the main issues as well as a friendly, calm and understanding woman, never short of humorous aside about herself, or a biting comment about figures in the opposition. All our lives are less with her passing.