The Head, Nicola Huggett

A few thoughts on... Making the most of every day

I was reminded over the weekend that it is almost exactly a year since the talented and prolific author Sir Terry Pratchett died, at the age of 66 on March 12th 2015.

You may well have read some of his books – as he wrote 70 of them during a career of 44 years. They were translated into 37 languages and sold over 75 million copies. He was (and is) Britain’s second most read author, second only to J K Rowling.

He was best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels. He generally wrote on average two books a year. His 2011 Discworld novel ‘Snuff’ was at the time of its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-readership novel since records began in the UK, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.

Having been knighted for services to Literature, Pratchett won the annual Carnegie Medal in 2001 for ‘The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents’, the first Discworld book marketed for children. If you think you don’t like reading much, perhaps you should look at that one.

However, as well as being remembered for his writing, Terry Pratchett was a dynamic campaigner, using his fame and fortune to further a hugely important cause. In December 2007, he announced that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He later made a substantial public donation to the Alzheimer's Research UK, and breaking away from the privacy that he usually guarded carefully, he filmed a television programme chronicling his experiences with the disease for the BBC which was widely acclaimed. I greatly admired the way that Terry Pratchett stood up for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s. He also campaigned openly for the right to assisted suicide for those with terminal illness and he moved the debate along in publicity terms a huge amount by throwing his own media spotlight behind the cause he believed in so passionately.

It is so important not to give in to what life throws at you. I am sure we can all think of people we know, to whom bad things have happened and yet it has just spurred them on to even greater things. Strength in the face of adversity. I am reminded of a heroine of mine, Jane Tomlinson, who spent the last 7 years of her life fighting breast cancer whilst raising an incredible £1.7m for cancer charities. Among her many feats, she cycled 1,905 miles from Rome to Leeds for charity, became the first person in the world to run a marathon on chemotherapy and rode 4,238 miles across America. Perhaps you remember the story of Stephen Sutton, who, at the age of 17 decided to raise £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer trust while fighting his own cancer diagnosis. Through social media he reached out to literally millions of people and before his death in April, just 2 years ago, he had raised over £3m.

By September 2014, the fund in his name had reached £4.96 million from over 340,000 donors. What an incredible achievement from an ordinary young man, in his hospital bed at the age of 19.

So the first anniversary of Terry Pratchett’s death just reminded me that we need to make the most of every single day. We should not give in to moaning about what we don’t have or wishing things were different in some way. If we have an idea, we should go out of our way to try to make it happen.

This is the beginning of the last two weeks of our term. We may well be tired and perhaps a bit fed-up. We may be anxious about many things; exams, the future, ourselves. But let us really see these next two weeks as a chance to do something great, just like Terry Pratchett, Jane Tomlinson and Stephen Sutton did.

Terry Pratchett once said “the harder I work, the luckier I become”. Don’t give up on really achieving something good in these last two weeks.