I met Olive Cooke a couple of times around 2002/03 while she was raising funds for The Poppy Appeal. I remember speaking with her about why she was doing it and her telling me this wonderful but sad story about how after losing her Husband in the war a few years after they married she felt compelled to keep helping the effort. That had turned into fundraising for 70+ years! We only spoke for a total of 15-20 minutes over the few times we met but the things we spoke about gave me food for thought at a time when I was struggling … A lot.
I hadn’t yet been diagnosed as Bipolar and even the depression wasn’t being very well managed at this point. I was struggling at work and felt quite hopeless. Olive’s faith in humankind gave me faith that I could make a difference. It was partly due to my conversations with her that I did a charity skydive in 2003.
I’ve always kept her words of hope in my mind and whenever I have been well enough have volunteered, and raised money for charities close to my heart and will continue to do so. Because what she told me is right. Doing for others makes everything in your own life much better.
Today, I heard that Olive Cooke had passed, but not because it was her time. She took her own life, because she had lost that hope she was so well known for. Her faith in humanity gone. I cried as I watched the lovely report that Channel 4 News did covering her life, reporting on her suicide, and cried that such a hope filled soul had been brought to such a sad place. I know what that despair feels like and to feel after all she had done for others that there was nowhere left to turn is devastating.
Olive Cooke had a lasting impact in my life, but it was a fleeting moment in her life, I was one of hundreds of people she would have spoken to on those days alone let alone through her life. But her words had a lasting impact on my life and I never forgot her. That was the kind of woman she was and that is the memory that will live on.
My deepest condolences to her friends and family and may her loving and giving soul rest in peace.