the short life and death of my little brother (7) it should have been me

When my father saw my mother at the hospital, she was alone. He later wrote: "Paula said that Andrew had sat down in the hospital corridor leading from the lift and not move. When I got to him, he was huddled in a corner. I was not to force him to move. I sat down with him and told him what a wonderful brother he had been Guy, how well he had looked him and how much he had helped him.

" I did not think anything would persuade him to move, I said quietly that it was a very difficult day for Paula and me too and that if he could bring to get up and come with us it would be a great help. He was up before I had finished speaking." In the afternoon, when my mother and I were alone, I apparently turned to her and said: "It should have been me." She looked puzzled and I said: "It should have been the eldest."

It was typical of my father, the kindest and most principled man I ever knew, that he insisted following the tradition of giving flowers and chocolates to the nurses when he left the hospital, though he was leaving without the young son he had put in their care. Guy was cremated three days later and we returned to Cornwall the next day.

We planned to spend four weeks in London for Guy's operation, and we returned to Cornwall four weeks to the day. the letters waiting for us was one from Jack Stephens, Guy's and my headmaster at Camelford primary school. "We shall always remember Guy as a happy, bright and courageous lad who light of his disability. His cheerful disposition was an example to us all."

After our return, my mother cried every day for three months. My father felt unable to express his grief. He refused offers of compensation from the hospital the grounds he had "one mouth less to feed" and he did not want to be restricted by the "gagging" clause that went with it. , he channelled his energies into campaigning for improved hospital safety measures.