“The important thing is not how many years in your life but how much life in your years”.
Edward J. Stieglitz
I was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire and went to school there until I was 11. I then moved to Hull until the age of 18 followed by Sheffield City Polytechnic as it was then called which heralded 3 great years of hospitality management including a 6 month placement in Canada.
For those of you who don’t yet know me, my name is Alysoun Sturt-Scobie – nee Gray.
“From Hull, Hell and Halifax may the good Lord deliver us” – the prayer of those facing crimes that warranted the death sentence and Halifax and Hull were the last places to have the guillotine! There are those who would suggest that the prayer is still a valid cry.
My Grandparents were a huge inspiration; my mum’s parents had a spirit of enquiry, of adventure of challenging the norms. Granny was born in Dulwich, London and moved to Yorkshire to marry a Yorkshire lad, a dreadful social crime in those days. They met in Canada and sailed back to England together. Grandpa having tried his hand at settling in Canada and choosing to come “home”. Granny finishing her medical training up in Yorkshire and taking on the role of first female GP in Halifax during the war. They took an interest in so many subjects. Grandpa on the practical, Granny on the ethereal and both had strong views on religion and politics way ahead of their generation. My father’s mum, a vicar’s wife, was one of those snuggly Granny’s, armed with cakes and a cuddle along with a discreet and cheeky sense of humour.
My parents always encouraged me to “have a go”. So I did, why not. Having a go also ventured into having a go at what you’re not really supposed to have a go at. Like climbing the trees in the school grounds; like building dens in out of bounds places; like finding “dead bodies” by the stream; it was all great fun and unfortunately also got me into trouble. I’d say all part of life’s rich tapestry. My parents would say premature ageing material.
My cousin John and I had a fantastic childhood, we roamed across our local countryside, frequently racing from the backdoor of my grandparent’s house to see who could get to the top of the tree at the end of the garden first. Always climbing, always messy. The dirtier we came home, the better the day had been. Getting up to as much mischief as possible without getting caught was the name of the game.
My Mum is great reader and a very determined lady. She instilled in me a strong work ethic, a never give up attitude and a sheer grit and determination to persevere no matter what. Since she retired she’s been a fantastic advocate for “get up and go” with many an adventure around the world. I love the fact that she’s such an inspiration to my children. They admire their Granny and continue to enjoy the adventures they have with her.
One of many major life events was that of the death of my cousin Kath in 1985. She was killed in a car crash when I was just 21, she was 18m younger than me. I have since then wanted to live my life to its fullest because she couldn’t. I still miss her sense of fun. And because of that it made me think that death can steal away your dreams at the drop of a hat, at the blink of an eye. Life to me is to be lived, not to be wished away and lined with “what ifs”.
I’m a mother of three wonderful children, well, a young adult, a very nearly “officially recognised” adult and an adolescent. One girl and two boys and I love them to bits – much to their embarrassment my public displays of affection are often noisily rejected. Not to mention that apparently I’m not a “normal” Mother. Whatever “normal” happens to be. I like that. They may not, but I do. And I’m married to James who is one of the most intelligent and funny people I know. We’ve been married for very nearly 20 years.
I’m a bit Pollyanna-esque and hunt for the positive in most situations. Fundamentally though I want to make a positive difference in the world, if only a tiny positive difference, it matters to me and that’s why the next 15 months will be about raising money for two communities to make a difference to them.
Recently my Dad died suddenly and unexpectedly, well as unexpected as ever it is when someone has reached the age of 78. It was unexpected to me, after all parents are supposed to be around forever aren’t they. He had always been supportive and encouraging; I was always a daddy’s girl! When I talked to him about sailing round the world, he said, “well love, there’s no point talking you out of it because once you’ve made your mind up about something, you’ll do it”.