8.7.18

William Dunlop

I had been asleep for around an hour or so when my boyfriend returned to the tent after going for a walk to the local pub to see how England did in their World Cup match. Camping on a hill on a remote Scottish Island means no signal or Wi-Fi for us unless we are at that certain spot.

As he got into bed I woke a little and he said "Lauren, England won" I just about mustered an "Oh, that's good" then he said "But I've got bad news too. And you will cry". Immediately thinking about my children, my mum, my brother, my cats, the tortoises, my house. He told me not to worry but it is bad news and would make me upset.
I have to admit, the fact he knew this was big news for me, and that he even remembered that this name was one that was important to me and a big deal to me was impressive. But the words were some I didn't think I'd hear.
Unexpected he said "William Dunlop died today".

I burst into tears. "What? No he hasn't. No he hasn't. You are fibbing". And he said it again.
Then showed me screenshots he'd taken of the news on the BBC Sports site.
I sat there in shock, in tears. And then feeling like I had no right to cry. I'm no one to him.
Then I justified my feelings to myself and realised I had every right to cry.

This man, William Dunlop, was unknowingly part of my change to who I am now. He, and the Dunlop family, were part of what ignited my passion for the TT. William and Michael were the ones I supported when I went to the TT.

The day I spoke to William on the phone, was another example of how he, unknowingly, changed my life. That morning I had split up with my ex-husband. My brother didn't even know what had happened that morning.
I will never forget that phone call. I will never lose my appreciation for my brother asking and for shy William Dunlop calling me, and even admitting on the phone he hasn't done that before and didn't know what to say.

Then the following year I remember walking up to the paddock and knowing that I was about to meet a Dunlop.
Walking around breathing heavily hoping he would be around somewhere then all of a sudden, there he was, stood in the middle of the walkway talking to someone.
I remember turning to my brother and constantly saying "Oh my god. Oh my god. William is there. Oh my god". He told me I'd have to go and ask for a photo but I couldn't bring myself to do it.
"William mate, can my sister have her photo taken with you?" my hero brother said as we reached him.
Between a caravan and an awning I stood with one arm round William, his arm around me and the words going round in my head "William Dunlop has his arm round me. He is touching my sweaty back!".
He was so sweet and so quietly spoken but we joked about me hanging up on him last year and talked about the TT that year. He wasn't having a great year but I said "You looked good on Gooseneck last night". He replied in his strong Northern Irish Accent "Yeah the corners are going well".
No William, that's not how I meant. Haha.

We said our goodbyes and I did as my brother instructed and managed to stay cool...until he was out of sight and then with my head in my brothers chest I sobbed.

Never before did I think that meeting a motorbike racer would be my equivalent to a girl meeting a member of One Direction.

Later that week I got the letter D tattooed on my wrist. D for Dale (my brother) and for Dunlops.

I remember being grumpy whenever I went to the TT and he and Michael were out of a race for whatever reason.

Maybe I'm so naive but I never thought I'd be hearing that a Dunlop had died.
They've not even had serious accidents like Ian Hutchinson or John McGuinness...or their dad.
But not Michael...And not William.

The same age as me. He is just the same age as me. It's far too soon to be gone.
Younger than his Dad when he lost his life, and his Uncle, both losing their life to the Sport they love. Just like William now has.

I can't help but to think about his mum, having to bury her son. His grandmother already having buried two sons and now a grandson. To his girlfriend who had a baby last year and is now pregnant again.
And to his brother, Michael, who will now face never sharing the paddock with his brother, never looking out for his brother on the track, and never sharing the roads with him again.

Brokenhearted, but glad I got to see him race, to speak on the phone and to meet him.
And grateful of the change he brought to my life. His, and his families, passion for the sport that made me who I am.



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3.1.18

Five Things | Highlights of 2017

 

Travels

One of my highlights of 2016 was travelling and it's still something that makes me smile and is prominent when I look back.
This year, I have been lucky again to be able to add travelling to my highlights of the year.
Easter was spent in Somerset. We spent one day in Wales and came across a forest which was so beautiful. The ground was covered in Bluebells, like a full, thick carpet of purple flowers. It was absolutely stunning. If it wasn't for my boots rubbing we would have walked and explored a lot more so having to leave so I could go and buy some trainers instead has given me a good excuse to one day visit again.
We went to Glastonbury twice whilst we were there and I felt like it really cemented my interest in spirituality. I bought my first crystals, oracle cards and some incense sticks. We climbed up the Glastonbury Tor, me and my mum walking behind as the boys raced ahead with my brothers girlfriend and her dog. This holiday was the first time the boys had met Robyn and it was extra special for that reason. 
Obviously I went to the TT again this year, and whereas other years when I flew over this year I drove and got the ferry. It was a good experience, other than getting lost on the way to Liverpool due to Sat Nav and phone issues but nevertheless I got there and I felt brave for it. 
I went for two weeks this year which I was glad about as the weather was awful and had I only gone for one week I wouldn't have seen much racing at all. 
Having my car meant I had my own freedom so was able to go out and do my own thing a lot of the time. 
My brother made my experience even better this year, something which I doubt could be beaten, when he surprised me by arranging a meet up between me and Liam Beckett.
Liam Beckett is best friend and mechanic to Robert Dunlop and I had tweeted him previously to mention meeting him at the TT, thinking it would be more of a quick hello at the paddock. Instead my brother arranged for us to meet in a hospitality room and we stood and had a full chat with him, I cried...at him...a lot but in return had a lot of hugs and cuddles from him.
He is one of the most amazing men I have ever met. So warm and welcoming and it felt as though we were friends. He talked about Robert and Joey Dunlop (Robert being Michael and Williams dad and Joey being their uncle) who both died doing the sport, and I stood there in awe of how incredible this man is. My brother and his girlfriend had managed to sneak the book Liam wrote out of my tent for him to sign for me and we had photos taken, had more hugs and said goodbye.
Racing was going on as we met and although I felt frustrated at missing it, meeting Liam was well worth it. After we had said goodbye we managed to watch some of the race and to top the afternoon off Michael Dunlop won that race!!
Six words to sum up that experience...MY BROTHER IS BETTER THAN YOURS
With a work meeting in Peterborough I used it as an excuse to visit Hayley. Which is always perfectm but a longer trip is definitely required next year! 
I had a mini girls trip with my best friend again due to a work meeting in Bedford in November. A little bit of shopping, a nice dinner and then an unexpected early night was just what two mums needed.
In September I was spoilt rotten for my birthday as two of my best friends took me to Paris for a day. We stayed over night and then had a full day exploring the city. It was absolutely amazing and I felt incredibly lucky to be taken somewhere so beautiful and special.
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing


Mini Royals: Charles, Harry and Elizabeth

When I became friends with Amy last year I never knew what a big part of my life she would be. She was quickly promoted from friend, to best friend to Life Boss, and very rarely do I make decisions in life without running it past her first. 
Meeting her daughter was probably more nerve racking that meeting Amy outside of work...you know that moment, when you go from colleagues to actual friends, scary stuff! 
I get nervous meeting children, especially as young as Lizzie, as they are super honest and if they don't like you...they let you know.
I only met Lizzie the first time by chance, as I picked a key up from Amy's house but as you can see from the first photo, we quickly became best friends and I absolutely love that little girl. 
She then met the boys and they also adore her. She is the boss of them its safe to say and they try their best to protect her when they can...this is when they aren't fighting over her. 
It's funny to think of a two year old as a best friend but she is really special to me and such a big part of my life. Its amazing to watch her grow and to feel proud of her like I am with my own children.


Forest

Despite having two cats I had an urge to add to my cat family by rescuing a black cat. Forest has been the perfect addition to our family this year and although my outgoings when it comes to cat food is ridiculous now it is totally worth it. 
He managed to fit into our family perfectly and it feels like it was definitely meant to be.
Affectionate beyond belief, playful with a massive personality I have no ounce of regret in rehoming this special little cat.


Nails and Tattoos

This year I discovered the miracle of nail extensions and gel nails. 
My best friend/life boss asked me to go along with her in January and since then I have been hooked. As a nail biter (former but only because of now having nails) these were just what I needed to not only make my hands look feminine, to be presentable for work, but to also give me confidence.
More tattoos made my arm into a sleeve...with only a little bit of space left to work with, and my obsession with tattoos resulted in finger tattoos, an Isle of Man tribute in form of a fairy on my leg and matching tattoos with my best friend, including one on my ankle.
It's safe to say both nails and tattoos have made me more of who I am and have made me feel loads better as a person. 
I'm sure in 2018 these will feature even more.


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