Part Two of an interview with Buggsie Heath-Brown, by Catherine McCargo.

Part 2 of an interview with Buggsie Heath-Brown

Part 1 can be found here

“With each day I looked forward rather than back and with each thing I had to endure, I remembered it was for a reason”. Buggsie Heath-Brown

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L to R: Buggsie, Charles Marks, Mike Boucher". Gladstone parkrun 31 Jan 2015

To understand what parkrun means to Buggsie we must return to Christmas 2013 when she noticed a change in the shape of her right breast. Mindful of (but not alarmed by) the implications of this, she was scheduled to receive a mammogram in February 2014 at which the radiographer said “I think you’ll be called back.” In mid-March 2014 Buggsie was diagnosed with cancer when the consultant advised, “I think that we can save the breast but first we need to shrink the tumour”. She was prescribed oestrogen blockers which do exactly what it says on the tin – they block the oestrogen feeding the tumour. Dick was with her when she received the news and took it in his stride. He was due to retire on 4 April 2014 and three days later they were due to leave for a five week holiday in India. So Buggsie went to India with Dick and her tablets, which had the following side effects: hot sweats, hair loss, joint pain, lethargy, sleeplessness and pins and needles. She had a great time.

 Following her return she had a series of tests which revealed that the cancer had not spread. On 11 November 2014 Buggsie had an operation to remove the tumour and rebuild her breast. Luckily she had participated in a study which involved sending her breast tissue to California for testing and the results indicated that, given the stage of the tumour, chemotherapy would do her more harm than good. After Christmas 2014, Buggsie had three weeks of radiotherapy and on 31 January 2015 she ran her first “post cancer” parkrun. The side effects of the oestrogen blockers made it difficult for Buggsie to run at all and, despite the odds, she finished but she did not run again until June 2015. “It was soul destroying because of the joint pain.” Consequently, she returned to volunteering. “parkrun was part of our routine. Dick wouldn’t miss a week unless we were out of the country. If he can’t run, he will volunteer. I volunteer because I get to enjoy the experience vicariously through the runners. I’d like to think I’ve cheered many people on to their PBs.” To date, Buggsie has volunteered 162 times, 160 of them at Gladstone parkrun.

During her first operation, a substantial amount of tissue had been removed from her right breast resulting in one breast being substantially bigger than the other. On 15 December 2015 Buggsie had her second operation, to equalise them. It was the same day that Tim Peake was launched to the International Space Station. Inspired by Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), as Buggsie was put under anaesthetic she said, “To symmetry and beyond”.

CMCC: How has this experienced changed you ?

BUGGSIE: My priorities have changed. I value each day more than I did before. I also feel a sense of “I’ve beaten cancer”.

To be clear, Buggsie isn’t taking anything for granted. Forgive the clichés but she’s taking each day as it comes and living it to the full. She has regular check-ups and will continue to take oestrogen blockers until 2024 but she won’t temp fate by saying she’s cured. “Let’s just say the drugs are doing their job. Dick and I are doing as much as we can and we travel more because I mightn’t have been here! He worked so hard to make sure that we would have a good retirement.” (Dick was a partner in a high street law firm.) When asked if she wanted to say anything further about her life with Dick she replied, “I know how lucky I am”.

CMCC: What are the worst things about cancer?

BUGGSIE: (1) Telling our daughter Emily. (2) Fear of the unknown. (3) Lack of control over your own body. Before cancer, I could choose if my hair was long or short - and it took me such a long time to grow my hair. Cancer took that choice away from me. Before cancer, I could choose to go out for a run without experiencing a lot of pain during or after. Obviously, that changed.

CMCC: What are the best things about cancer?

(1) I’m stronger than I thought I was, physically and emotionally. (2) After reduction and reconstruction surgery, at 65, I have the chest of a 30 year old.

Whilst out walking in Gladstone Park earlier this year, Buggsie recalls approaching a woman who was crying. This Irish lady had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had told her husband but no one else. “We walked around the park for an hour and talked. I hope that I persuaded her to tell her children.” I asked Buggsie if she had any advice for people who have recently been diagnosed.

 BUGGSIE: Cancer is a journey broken into various stages: the diagnosis, the operations, the treatment, the drugs, all of the tests (MRI scans, radiation treatment etc.) and the end of your journey, which could be death, or it could be when you’re told “We’re pretty sure we’ve got it all out.” Take one stage at a time.

With each day I looked forward rather than back and with each thing that I had to endure, I remembered that it was for a reason. Don’t think about the whole journey. It’s overwhelming. Break it down into each stage and break each stage down into the things that you have to endure. For each of those things you need a good sense of humour.

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Buggsie and Dick Heath-Brown

From Part One of this interview you will recall that Buggsie’s story began with a horse called Pandora. In Greek mythology, Zeus gave Pandora a box and warned her never to open it. Unable to contain her curiosity Pandora opened the box and unwittingly unleashed all the evils into the world including disease, poverty, suffering and death. Only one thing remained. The same thing you need when confronted with the prospect of your own mortality. Hope. Hope of a good life which ends with a good death, whenever that may be.   BUGGSIE: Gladstone parkrun’s 5th anniversary was coming up in June. I hadn’t run parkrun since July 2015 but very slowly over time my body appeared to be coping with the drugs so I thought I’d give it another go. I didn’t tell anybody. I was afraid that the “running” part of my life was over. That I wouldn’t be able to do it again because of the pain. It’s to do with your vitality. It’s something that I would resent being taken away from me - like my hair. On the 5th anniversary I took my jacket off at the last minute and stood at the back of the crowd waiting to start. I felt nervous but determined. I’m always nervous before parkrun. I’m afraid of failing. Glen Turner was back that week. Some time after he finished his run he returned to the playground and ran the last part of my run with me. I felt emotional when I finished. I was elated. I’m 65 and I can still do this. I can still do this even though I had cancer. I can still do this because I’m still here.   On the morning (at Gladstone parkrun) when Buggsie agreed to do this interview, I asked her why a woman in her 60s who had been seriously ill wants to run 5K, up hills, at 9am on a Saturday morning. Buggsie whispered: “parkrun is my way of saying ‘fxxx cancer!’”

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Glen Turner and Buggsie, on the last leg, 24.6.17, Gladstone parkrun's 5th anniversary

Buggsie’s 5K Gladstone parkrun PB is 32m20s.
Buggsie’s “post-cancer” PB is 38m06s achieved on her 49th parkrun.

 

Part One of an interview with Buggsie Heath-Brown as she celebrates her 50 milestone, by Catherine McCargo.

Buggsie1    Mary Buggs (aka Buggsie) grew up in Eastbourne by the sea. Her passion for horses began at 7 years old when she attended the local riding school, Wayfaring Down. In Autumn 1962 the school was to close and so the RSPCA issued an appeal, which made national news, inviting members of the public to write in if they could offer a horse a home otherwise the horses would be put down. An 11 year old Buggsie sent off her request and a week later an RSPCA officer arrived at her house offering a horse on the following condition: “She’s yours if you can show us where you’re going to keep her”. This came as a surprise to Buggsie’s father, Alf, a SubPostmaster, who answered the front door and had nowhere to keep a horse. So Buggsie ran across the road to a neighbour and asked if she could keep her horse in their field. Luckily they agreed and so from then on (until she left Eastbourne aged 26) Buggsie began what became a way of life: visiting Pandora (her horse) before school when she would feed, water and groom her, check her over for any cuts and bruises, move the hay which was in bales, carry the water which was in buckets and shovel the manure which was in regular supply. After school, Buggsie would repeat the process. Owning a horse was far from glamourous. It was hard work, but worth it, because it gave her freedom. The freedom to saddle up Pandora and go for an 8 or 10 mile ride on the South Downs alone. “Sitting on a horse empowers you. It gives you confidence.”   Over time Buggsie became a proficient horsewoman and entered gymkhanas (equestrian competitions) which she enjoyed but never won. At 14, her parents bought her Poppett, a pony, and at 16 when she had outgrown her pony they bought her Krispin, a 3 year old Connemara gelding. Buggsie, in turn, taught both of her parents to ride and, at 18, she qualified as a British Horse Society Assistant Instructor. From then on she was either riding horses or teaching children to ride (including children with special needs) either at the local riding school or privately. The children loved it. It increased their confidence, calmed them down and helped them develop a sense of achievement when they learned to be at one with their horse.   Buggsie’s relationship with horses also provided her with constancy. “Boyfriends can break your heart but horses never let you down.” This sounds like the lament of someone who’s been unlucky in love but don’t feel too sorry for her. She’s had 37 happy years with her husband, Dick, who at 70 years old is still as handsome as ever and, more importantly, has completed 193 parkruns, 173 of them at Gladstone Park. His PB is 25m49s. fullsizeoutput_d6

"Buggsie riding Krispin, Cross Country event, early 1970s"

In 1978, when she was 26, Buggsie secured a job as a PA to the Managing Director of Penguin books. She entrusted Krispin to another horsewoman and moved to London. Fast forward to 2008.

The Nike+ Human Race 10K, which would start and end at Wembley Stadium, was billed as “The World’s Largest One Day Running Event, 1 Day, 1 million runners, 25 Cities in an unprecedented New Race Experience.” BUGGSIE: When I saw it in the press I turned to Dick and said “I’m going to do that.” In those days 10K runs weren’t as prevalent as they are now. Dick was very encouraging but, secretly, I think he thought I couldn’t do it but he knows that I’m determined and if I say I’m doing something, I do it.

On reflection, Buggsie’s introduction to running was through teaching because, when she gave riding lessons, she would often run alongside the horse that her student was riding. Apart from that, prior to 2008, she had done little running (without a horse) and what she had done was on a treadmill. In June 2008 Buggsie started jogging 2 or 3 times a week in Gladstone Park, in the morning before work, and she continued training until race day, 31 August 2012.

BUGGSIE: I finished it in just over 74 minutes. I was 56 years old and I’d just run my first 10K. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe I’d done it! I just remember the adrenalin and the sense of achievement. It was like being back on the horse, with the wind in my hair, except I was using my own legs.

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Buggsie and Dick first encountered parkrun when they were heading home after a stroll in Gladstone Park one Saturday morning. They saw Peter Reupke setting up markers and flags around the park and asked him what he was doing. A week later, on 25 August 2012, they were both at the starting line.

“We wanted to try something new and meet new people locally and boy have we met them! It’s always an achievement doing parkrun. I can walk for miles and miles but running…it’s bxxxxx hard work. Even for Johnny Suttle it’s hard.” (FYI, the recently departed Johnny Suttle was one of the fastest runners at Gladstone parkrun with a PB of 16m42s. He now lives in Bristol.)

Always listen to the run briefing.

During the course of 2014 Buggsie found it very difficult to run but instead continued to participate in Gladstone parkrun every week as a volunteer. “It’s great to have people encouraging you, that’s why I encourage other people.” Before Christmas 2014, Glen Turner visited Gladstone parkrun to make a special presentation to her. For those who may not know, Glen is the Australian journalist who founded Gladstone parkrun in June 2012 and, coincidentally, celebrates his 250 milestone this Saturday. During his speech he alluded to why Buggsie was no longer running. At that point, as far as she was aware, the reason was not generally known. Afterwards, a female parkrunner who hadn’t been paying attention, ran up to Buggsie and asked, “What was all that business with the speech, the flowers and the cake?” Buggsie replied: “I have breast cancer.”

Part Two to follow soon.

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Christmas & New Year parkrun Events 2017/2018

 

Arrrghhhh - it's almost that time of year yet again and I am sure very few of us are ready but one thing you can get planning early are your Holiday parkrun events.  Below are the details for Gladstone Park parkrun.

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For those of you new to parkrun, we are allowed to put on an extra event on Christmas Day or New Years day (or both)!  If you are really organized you are also allowed to run two parkruns on New Year's Day (and get credit for each) - you just need to look at this site (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/christmas-compendium/) to see if there are some near enough with staggered start times to allow you to reach both (safely - no mad driving please).

Events on Saturday 23rd December and Saturday 30th December will be as normal.

NO CHRISTMAS DAY PARKRUN @ GLADSTONE PARK
As per previous years, there will not be a Christmas Day run at Gladstone Park but there will be one at Canon's Park (at 9.00am) and Hampstead Heath have not decided yet whether they are doing a run, they often do.  Many of us try to go to Northala parkrun (9.00am start) as they always have a great event on Christmas Day.

WE ARE DOING A RUN ON NEW YEARS DAY (its a Monday)!!!
STARTING AT 10.30am (Yes, ten thirty).

Thanks to Paul Durkan who has offered to be Run Director on NYD this year so the run will go ahead with a start time of 10.30am.  What he needs now (well in advance) is a full team of volunteers to be sure the event can go ahead.  So, if you are planning a late night out on New Year's Eve and just want to help by cheering, timing and watching the other runners do their first run of 2018 then please email gladstoneoffice@parkrun.com to offer your assistance.

 

All About Eve (Part 2)…

 

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Gladstone parkrun, Christmas 2015

Part Two of an interview with Eve and Cris Staicu by Catherine McCargo.

From Part One of this interview you may recall that Cris (having moved to London) wanted Eve to join him as soon as possible and, crucially, before the two year GCSE cycle began. By December 2013, the first term of the GCSE cycle was ending and Eve was still in Romania.

In January 2014 Eve visited her dad in London and, as she saw more of the city, it reminded her of why she liked it so much in the first place. When she returned to Romania she discovered that she had lost her enthusiasm for living there.

EVE:
Growing up in Romania I always knew that I wanted to experience a new way of life, a change of scene. I wasn’t challenged enough at school. In secondary school and high school we were provided with a lot of information but we weren’t engaged. There was an emphasis on accumulating information, rather than analysing it, questioning it or forming your own opinions about it. We were provided with essays to memorise and, when we were given an essay to write, there was a very specific structure to follow but little room or encouragement to be creative.

Now she was ready for a change. In April 2014, after convincing her mother in Bucharest that moving to England was the best thing for her future, a 15 year old Eve got a one way ticket to London and started at Bales College, the same month, with a view to sitting 10 GCSEs in June 2015. Although she excelled at studying English in Romania, now every single communication outside of her home with Cris - whether written or verbal, academic or social - was in English. Although Eve knew the meaning of each individual word, the cumulative effect of processing (and responding to) a tidal wave of English words left her feeling mentally exhausted at the end of each day.

On top of that, having missed two school terms of British GCSE curriculum (from September 2013 to March 2014) she was now playing “catch up”. She sat her end-of-year exams in June 2014 and, unsurprisingly, did not do well. A year later, in spring 2015, the results were very different. Eve sat ten GCSEs and achieved 7 A*s, 2 As and 1 B. She then embarked on her A-levels, English, maths and economics.  

CMCC:           What sparked your interest in economics ?

EVE:
The stock market crash in 2008 was definitely the trigger for me. From when I was 10 years old, everyone was talking about it, about inflation and how good things were before the crash. I remember asking “What does it mean? Is there any money left in the country?”

The answers Eve received did not satisfy her curiosity and so she wanted to understand the issues for herself.

Having said that, before I moved to England I had no intention of studying Economics. Initially I thought it would be boring as a degree and as a future career but the more I got into it the more I realised that the subject encompasses other interests of mine such as maths, philosophy and politics. Until about year 12 I always thought I’d study something arts related. At one time I wanted to be a painter, then an architect, then a novelist, then a filmmaker.

 

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Eve, Gladstone parkrun 2014

 

EVE:
I first heard about parkrun when I was playing tennis with my dad in Gladstone Park. We lived in Neasden at the time. I saw a poster beside the gate saying “Beginners welcome”. I’m not a runner and neither is my dad but we went along anyway. I’d never run 5K before and I hadn’t run hills. On 21 June 2014 Eve and her dad ran Gladstone parkrun for the first time.

CMCC:           Did you enjoy it ?

EVE:
No ! But I wanted to do some form of regular exercise and it was local. The first person we met was Dick Heath-Brown and he was nice and friendly.

Gladstone parkrun has been very welcoming from the outset. I’m positive I’ll keep in touch with loads of people like Charles and Sue Boucher, Dick and Buggsie, Jamie Galal.

Louis Smyth and his wife, Jane’s insights into the British education system were of enormous help for us, at a time when we were completely in the dark. Gladstone parkrun has helped us to connect with the local community. Definitely.

Eve’s PB is 33m27s. Cris (listed as Gabriel on the results sheet) has a PB of 27m02s and will celebrate his 150th run milestone in the next couple of weeks. 

A-Level results day:
On Thursday 24 August 2017 Eve went to school to collect her results. She stood alone and opened the envelope. She needed one A* and two As to study economics at Durham, a World Top 30 university in Arts and Humanities. Maths was her strongest subject and she was not optimistic that she had done well enough to achieve an A* – never mind the other two subjects. As she read her results she experienced a mixture of shock, relief then happiness. Three A*s. The best grades possible. Not only that but she later found out that she had achieved the highest marks in her school in all three subjects.

When Eve was a 12 year old schoolgirl in Romania, her teacher asked the class “How many of you want to go to university abroad?” Three quarters of the pupils raised their hands. Since leaving Romania in 2014, Eve remained in contact with many of her friends and, as far as she knows, she is the only pupil from that class who is going to a university abroad.  

CMCC:      After all your hard work, how would you have felt if you had not achieved the grades to go to university? 

EVE:
I would have taken a year out, gone travelling and applied to university the next year.

CMCC:           After all of your efforts over the years, how would you have felt if Eve had not achieved the grades to go to university?

CRIS:
The way I see it, whether she went to this university or the other, this year or the next would only have made the slightest of differences. I never had a rigid roadmap planned for her and therefore no great anxiety about this particular step. What’s really important is that Eve has already made the journey from that blissfully unaware nine year old girl learning French at school in Romania to the person she is today. Along the way she has become a good person, she developed the tools to motivate herself and cope with challenges.

Now she has valid options available and it feels good to see her taking positive personal decisions and appearing to be ready for the road ahead. She's already forging her own path and if the current signs are anything to go by, it could be a good path after all.

EVE:
I don’t know exactly what I want to do for a living but I definitely don’t want to work in The City as an investment banker. I will try not to lose touch with my earlier interests; I am taking History of Art as my complementary module at Durham and perhaps even giving painting a go by joining the Arts Society. I feel really lucky to live in an era when art is so accessible.

During the summer I saw some of my favourite works of art by the Impressionists at Musee d’Orsay in Paris as well as many famous Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I think that moving to London has certainly helped me redefine my interests and opened my eyes to how much the world has to offer in terms of art and culture. By moving here I hoped to be more engaged and stimulated which I am glad to say has happened.

 

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Eve at Musee d'Orsay, Paris, summer 2017

Eve’s last parkrun is on Saturday 30 September.

She then leaves London, for Durham University, on Sunday 1 October 2017. 

 

All About Eve…

 

Part One of an interview with Eve and Cris Staicu by Catherine McCargo.

 

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Eve, Notting Hill Carnival, 2015

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person,
he believed in me.“
     Jim Valvano.

In July 2017 I initially approached Cris Staicu and his 19 year old daughter, Eve, with a view to writing a father/daughter story for the website. Cris politely declined. I respected his decision. Cris had no interest in being in the limelight so he enthusiastically pointed me towards his daughter, a highly intelligent, articulate and poised young woman who, over the course of 90 minutes, told me about her life in Romania and her dream of going to university in England - but something was missing. I couldn’t quite identify who or what ignited this dream in Eve or how exactly her journey was made possible.

 

That evening, Cris approached me at a party to provide some background information about Eve’s story. After speaking to me for an hour, he reminded me that he did not wish to be interviewed and that everything was “off the record”. He just wanted to give me “the overall picture”. I respected his decision. However in the course of writing up this interview it became apparent that to tell Eve’s story, without Cris’s further input or without mentioning him, would leave the reader with more questions than answers.

 

Recently I approached Eve and Cris for 5 minutes of their time so that I could check a few facts and run a few extracts past Cris in which it was essential to the story that he was mentioned. Over the next three hours a conversation took place involving me asking questions, Cris answering most of them, Cris reflecting on various stages in Eve’s development, Eve trying to squeeze a word in edgeways and me taking notes of what they both said. A passer-by might have mistaken this verbal exchange for “an interview” but, in time-honoured tradition, Cris reiterated that he did not wish to be interviewed. After reading and approving this piece Cris graciously acknowledged: “For someone reluctant to be interviewed, I‘ve talked an awful lot.”

 

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Eve and Cris, Christmas 2008 in Romania.

When Eve was a young girl in Romania, Cris could see from her performance in academic competitions that she was outstanding however he was not convinced that she would reach her potential if she stayed there and so he envisaged a future for his only child which involved her going to university in England.

 

CRIS:
Things make sense in this country [UK]. It’s reassuring to see that by doing the right thing, one’s life tends to follow a good, stable or (at least) predictable course. This does not necessarily happen in other places, including Romania. Our country still hasn’t found its feet after the political changes of the early 1990s. 28 years later, the most pessimistic predictions regarding the length of the “transition period” have been badly overtaken.

As the years went by, I could see so many instances around me of bright young people doing all the right things but their lives still (relatively or literally) going to waste. With the end of “transition” always around the corner but never actually happening, I didn’t want my daughter to be a prisoner of circumstance and I knew that decisive and early action was needed.

Cris then embarked on a “very deliberate process” of sharing his vision with Eve by presenting her with a very positive, dynamic and colourful picture of England – a picture which a child could comprehend. This began in March 2008 when he encouraged her to watch the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race online. He also showed her pictures of both universities, English castles, pageantry and other quintessentially English things in the hope that seeds would be planted, in his 9 year old daughter’s mind, that England would be a great place to live and study.

Eve liked what she saw and was certainly interested in going to this “mythical place” called England at some point in the future. It was definitely an interesting idea but, at such a young age, Eve didn’t have any goals in life. By inspiring, suggesting, nurturing and nudging Cris hoped that, over time, he could persuade Eve to share his vision but certain steps needed to be taken to make this vision a reality.

At the time, Eve attended a school which taught French as a foreign language. The first step towards a life in England was to learn the language and, if she was to master it, she needed to change schools. Without going into detail, this was a very challenging process and the bottom line was that Eve needed to learn English, within 6 months, to prepare for an admission examination to gain entry to a school which provided an intensive English programme.

Cris tutored Eve at home using (among other tools) BBC materials as well as films made in the English language. After watching the Oscar winning movie, My Fair Lady, Eve became a huge fan of its star, Audrey Hepburn, who played the central character, Eliza Doolittle.

For those who may not know, Eliza Doolittle is a flower seller with a strong cockney accent who undergoes intensive and distressing elocution lessons so that she can learn to speak like an aristocrat. The irony was not lost on Eve. She recalls crying with frustration because of the difficulties she had in trying to pronounce the word “the”. Apparently, for those learning English as a second language, the correct pronunciation of words beginning with “th” is extremely difficult because this sound may not exist in their mother tongue.

In June 2009 Eve was one of around 100 candidates to sit the admission exam - many of whom had studied English for 3 years. After only 6 months tutoring, Eve scored the highest marks in the admission exam which is even more impressive given that her competition included a girl who was half Scottish and spoke English as a first language. For Cris, this was the “cherry on the cake”. He later found out that the examiners had been talking amongst themselves about how good Eve was and how she stood out because she was the only candidate who spoke English with an English accent. The “default” position in Romania (as in many other countries) is to learn spoken English in an American accent. In September 2009, Eve started her new school.

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Eve and Cris, London, 2011.

In November 2009, when Eve was 11 years old, Cris took the second step towards realising the vision, he left Romania for the UK. For Cris, moving to another country was not the action of a ferociously ambitious father who ultimately wanted to push his child to standards of academic excellence whether she wanted it or not. It was more the case that he was willing to take the action necessary to make (what he hoped would become) a shared vision, a reality. Looking from the outside in, it appears that he was taking a significant risk and making a huge sacrifice by leaving a comfortable life in Romania to start a new life in England, from scratch, with no guarantee that Eve would ever leave Romania to join him - but Cris doesn’t see it that way. He recalls: “I was simply doing my best to open the relevant doors for her whenever she was able to come over. I wanted to do everything I could do to help her.”

In summer 2010 when she was 12 years old, Eve flew to Heathrow alone, but full of excitement, to visit her father in London and see England for the first time with her own eyes.

EVE:
I loved Trafalgar Square. I loved the atmosphere. I went to Camden Town. It was very free. There was a greater sense of individuality in terms of dress. Greater diversity. In Romania, if you wore something unusual you’d stand out, you’d attract attention. In London, people are more accepting of different identities. The more I visited my dad in London over the next few years the more I realised “This is where I want to live”.

After that Eve continued to visit her father in London during school holidays and to attend horse riding and sports camps but Cris considered that the sooner Eve moved to London permanently, the better. He believed that ultimately she would be in a better position to apply to good universities and be offered a place if she had already spent several years being schooled in Britain.

Based in London Cris did his best to “…fuel Eve with inspirational things, but it’s difficult to carry the torch when you’re over 1000 miles away”. Although Eve was willing to move to England, she wasn’t enthusiastic. She lived in Bucharest with her mum, Georgiana, who was nervous (understandably) about Eve leaving her family, friends and everything she knew to go and live in the UK. Georgiana needed to be persuaded that this move was the best thing for her daughter. After several attempts to convince her, to no avail, Cris resigned himself to the possibility that Eve may not move to the UK until she was about to go to university at age 19.

By Christmas 2013, Cris’s vision for Eve’s education remained his vision and his alone.

Part 2 of this interview will follow soon.

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