“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt
My curiosity was activated when I read this quote of Eleanor Roosevelt and began thinking about my true friends. A true friend always seems to have your best interests at heart. Aristotle remarked that there are three main types of mutual friendships: useful; great company; and those who reflect respect and admiration.
During my life I have been blessed by experiencing more than my fair share of friendships, from people who have not asked anything of me and given their friendship freely. There are so many people worldwide: for example, here in the UK, in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland, USA, India and China who I value as real friends. Thinking about them, I find it difficult to write about some friends whilst excluding others. I have therefore chosen to write about a few people who have been great friendship to me who are no longer alive. I think these illustrations will help us to understand the power of friendship.
My first example concerns a friend called Alan, in the photo, who died a couple of years ago at the age of 95. I met Alan nearly 40 years when we both worked for a local education authority. My introduction to Alan came in the council carpark, when he asked me if I would like a bag of carrots, which he had bought cheaply at the local market! Alan became my confidant; he was a great listener when I needed unbiased advice from a friend. His generous friendship was always unconditional and based on mutual respect and admiration. I was really lucky because he was also great company as he had an infectious interest in others, a fascinating storyteller and an eternal optimist.
My second example, of the qualities of a true friend, features my cousin Rosemary who was the Deputy Headteacher of Uckfield Community College in West Sussex. Rose, as she was known, was a great listener and organiser. She loved being proactive and being in her company enthused others with hope and optimism. Like Alan, she gave her friendship unconditionally and greatly influenced the direction of my life through her practical wisdom.
My final example is Walter Priestly, who was a producer for the Adastrians, a drama group in Swindon during the 1960’s. Wally, as he was called and his friends Beryl and Ken, took a huge interest in me as a young actor, giving me so many opportunities to learn the actor’s craft and to explore through this medium what it means to be human. Wally’s friendship helped me to develop a secure sense of self and a confidence that I could use the skills he taught me in my chosen profession — teaching.
We humans are relational beings who crave for meaningful relationships. Friendships are the bedrock of wellbeing for each of us. I am eternally grateful for my current friendships: close friends, Jane my wife, family; friends in our village, global friends and my dear friends who support our international charity, https://ivetfoundation.com/ . A huge thank you to all for you precious friendship.
May I invite you today to remember and celebrate your friends and the effect that they have on the quality of your life.