This is definitely a one-off post, never to be repeated. This post is raw, honest and from the heart.
I'd like to begin by thanking you all for connecting with me recently over the last few months, and indeed continue to do so, it's so important to me. Some of you must have questioned the connection and who I was, and why I asked to connect. I can now tell you it was through Steve Franks the CEO and Group MD of @waterbabies - so thank you.
Steve very tragically lost his life on the 30th April after battling Covid-19 for 30 days. 30 very long days.
Steve was as strong as an ox both in mind and body, as fit as a fiddle.
Living our lives, throughout April 2020, in 5-hour blocks. 5 hours that was until we made another call to the consultants for the latest update, 5 hours until we updated our WhatsApp Group to everyone. It was the biggest, worst rollercoaster ride of our lives, one that we didn’t want to be on, one that we knew would end but we didn’t know how and we didn’t know when, and one ride we wish to God we had never had to get on.
We were told that if Steve was in hospital for 21 days, he stood a good chance of survival from this hideous disease, 21 days sounded utterly ridiculous he’d never even been to hospital and we couldn’t even comprehend 1 day, let alone 21. We were told he was very fit man and stood a better chance of survival than most, but it wasn’t to be, no matter how many prayers, wonderful podcasts, cards, letters, & teddy bears, he received (the hospital had never seen so many and asked if he was a celebrity!) the host had ravaged this courageous man’s body and there was no return.
We were told by one of the consultants that after we had lost Steve it had really affected the team, that they so wanted him to wake up from this coma and to meet him as it was obvious from our Facetime calls that he was so loved. The Consultant had told me that throughout his career only 5 people had ever got through his coat of armour – Steve was the 5th.
We were left heartbroken, devastated, physically and mentally exhausted, we will never know why him.
Steve Franks was our rock and our saviour, we thought he was invincible. We wanted him to be invincible. We thought he would live for ever, we wanted him to live for ever. He was our best friend, our go to person, always there to help the three of us when we needed it most. We thought he was immortal, and Emperor made of granite. He was the strongest, kindest, funniest, most educated love of our lives, and we will always be a family of four.
Steve loved life, he was dedicated, passionate, supportive, and determined to get the job done, he often said ‘enough was never enough’. He was a mentor to many, sitting on numerous boards playing major roles, while also a keen believer in helping young starter business grow and taste similar success to what he endeavoured to find. The art to doing so is to think big, he never gave up, he was a driver, a perfectionist and would obsess over getting the small tasks completed to an equally high standard as those bigger ones. He was indeed unique, from his attire, to his laugh or his proud cultural heritage. He strove for the highest of standards across all sectors to improve the experiences for babies, children and young people, no one in the industry held a candle to him, no one came close. He was an exceptional business leader, it was his thing. He was like no other human, husband or father we have ever known. He is our hero. He is our world.
What I do want to do, is to pay thanks to each and every one of you personally, whilst on the very worst journey of our lives, starting with the continued support, it’s been overwhelming; text’s, emails, LinkedIn DM’s, cards, calls, flowers and door step drops of much needed food - thank you, from the very bottom of my heart. There are just too many of you good people to mention, you know who you are and what you mean to me/us, and it would be totally unfair of me to single out individuals, although I did gain an entire new family @waterbabies along with my existing family of the Hampton by Hilton Exeter and @richard Martin FIH whose employees took every single step with us along this horrendous journey. I will never be able to repay you.
The second is to say the Tributes that came from all over the world and continue to do so broke our hearts and we are so proud of him– what an incredible man he is, they were humbling, amazing, brilliant, and totally unforgettable. Thank you.
You will be aware of the part I am playing in the @facesofthepandemicuk project which special series of biological portraits are interviews shines a much-needed spotlight on the many different human reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting the following charities @caudwellchildren, @women_aid, @ageukwandsworth, @helpthemhelpus, @wellchild, @childbereavementuk, @makeawish, and the #CaptainTomFoundation, #fac telling my story and also the incredible human capacity to fight back, the full body of work is due to be released in March 2021 for the first anniversary of lockdown.
Along with many boards he sat on Steve became extremely involved in the creation of the Children’s Activities Association and backed the What’s on 4 Kids Activities Awards, he was always so supportive and never hesitated to back this organisation to help the entire children’s activities sector, which we as a family are now working closely with – watch this space.
As many, if not all of you now know, myself and the @waterbabies family are determined and 100% committed to ensuring his legacy lives on - to carry on his hard work in his name until we get the job done. So not only am I writing to you today to say thank you and share the story of what happened to our beloved Steve, I also want to let you know what comes next.
Steve’s vision led him to create a community interest company, called the Children’s Alliance. It was born from the Children First movement he spearheaded and the Children’s Alliance was created to harness business to accelerate a cultural, political and societal shift, with the aim to champion the importance of our children and inspire the potential of future generations.
The Children’s Alliance’s main goal is to see a Minister for Children appointed into cabinet. It’s a big goal, but not one that should be unattainable. Afterall, children are our future and now more than ever, throughout these Covid times, our children need a voice and to be represented at the highest levels of conversations in Parliament. They are all our futures. I want you to know about the Children’s Alliance because I want to ask you to donate to it. So that Steve’s legacy lives on and we can continue to do great things in his name.
When Steve passed, a tribute book was gifted to us, to celebrate and recognise his coloured life. The book was packed full of photos of momentous occasions, achievements, his successes, and heartfelt messages from our family. I’d like to open this up to his friends and colleagues – to ask you to help support the Children’s Alliance, donating what you can, in return for a tribute book recognising Steve’s achievements. To honour his legacy.
We would appreciate anything you could give to supporting this cause.
To cover the cost of the book and postage we’d ask for a minimum of £35. Of course, if you can commit any more then it will help towards the work in this incredible campaign.
Click the link here to make a donation and receive a copy of Steve's tribute book.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this and pledging to support the cause.