Jocelyn - Interview 33
Age at interview: 65
Brief Outline: In 2002 Jocelyn's son, Edward, was killed in the Bali bombing. Jocelyn was deeply shocked and saddened, but decided that Ed would want him to get on with his life. He was supported by other family members and by Ed's many friends.
Background: Jocelyn is a Company Director. He has 2 children (1 died). Ethnic background/nationality: White British.
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One Sunday morning in October 2002 Jocelyn saw a headline in the Sunday Times about a big bomb that had gone off in Bali. He immediately thought of his son, Edward, who was in Bali at the time. Jocelyn feared that Ed might have been killed and flew out to be with Ed’s mother, who was in Thailand. By the end of the week they accepted that he must be dead.
Assuming that Ed was dead, the family held a memorial service in a village church in Ireland. Two weeks later Jocelyn flew to Hong Kong for another memorial service. Ed had been living in Hong Kong before he died. Jocelyn was sailing in Hong Kong harbour, when his mobile phone rang. An official from the Foreign Office told Jocelyn that Ed’s body had been found and identified by DNA testing. Jocelyn arranged for Ed’s body to be flown home to Ireland. The UK government paid for this. Ed was buried in the family graveyard. His Godfather contributed a lovely gravestone, which bears the inscription “A smile and memories that bring us roses in December”
A police liaison officer kept in touch with the family and gave Jocelyn information whenever he could. Ed’s inquest was held in Hong Kong. Jocelyn did not attend it. About two years after the bombing Jocelyn went back to Bali and visited the site of the bombing.
Ed’s death brought Jocelyn and his other son closer together. Ed had many friends who have supported the family. They have all contributed to a website, edwaller.com, which was set up by Ed’s brother, Tom, and some of Ed’s friends. The website has about 700 tributes to Ed, pictures of Ed, a film made by Tom, and Jocelyn’s eulogy. The website has been a great comfort to Jocelyn. It brings laughter and tears to his eyes, and he thinks it is very important.
Jocelyn was asked to chair the UK Bali Bombing Victims Group. He helped to organise a beautiful memorial for those who died. The memorial is in St James’s Park on Horse Guards Road, and was opened by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall. It was made by Gary Breeze, lettering sculptor.
After Ed died Jocelyn did not get any professional counselling. He was supported by friends and family. He decided that what ever happened he would never forget Ed, and that he would keep him in his life, and think of him every day. He thought that Ed would want him to get on with his own life, so he made a positive effort to move forward.
Jocelyn helped to create the memorial for all those killed in Bali. Eds brother made a film and...
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…I think the memorial, in which we managed to get, I mean and in the most amazing place, I mean off St. James’s, in St. James’s Park on Horse Guards Road, right in front of the Foreign Office, under the Clive Steps, it couldn’t have been a more appropriate place, it’s a very beautiful memorial. All those processes I went through, and for me it actually marked a watershed, four years after the anniversary, opened by Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall, very graciously, who were always very supportive and he was always very supportive and thoughtful, kind, mindful of our predicament. Everybody got letters from his household. He, you know, and that event and that beautiful memorial that reminds people how young those victims generally were, it has the names of all of them, which is very good. It’s in a, as I say, it’s in a prominent place, and passers by can see it’s a sort of reminder of the dangers that lurk out in the world from extremism.
One positive thing that came out of this, I suppose, is that my relationship with my elder son, perhaps was not as strong as it had been with my younger one, improved, and we became very, very much closer as a result of this. He, he did, he did wonderfully, to put together the memorial service and to make a film, he’s a film maker, which is very moving, it’s a wonderful memorial and brings a lot of the themes of Ed’s life, and the life of our family and our friends together, and so you know that’s been of, that’s, and that’s some, and he now, he now has two sons, and you know, life goes on. But that’s been a positive thing but as I say, he’s fortunate, Ed, in the sense that he’ll never grow old, we’ll remember him, like James Dean or Buddy Holly. We certainly take him with us every day of our lives and so do a lot of other people, which is good.
Oh yes, oh definitely, oh definitely yes. I mean there is a sort of finality in death, but definitely a spirit lives on and I don’t want to get into it, I mean you know we, we, we, we we’ve still got Ed around us, no question and it, and just not just me and the family, as I said he’s got these this immense body of friends and if you go to his website which I recommend anybody to do because it’s very interesting and very moving, and very informative, www.edwaller.com, I’ll give it a plug.
There’s about 700 tributes from various people who knew him, and they are fascinating and they are fun. And there is a lot of stuff from his brother and there’s things about him and a picture gallery. It’s a book, it’s great.
Have you taken comfort from the website?
Jocelyn chaired the UK Bali Bombing Victims Group. The group had a media spokesman, but Jocelyn...
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Well obviously when I was the Chairman of the UK Bali Bombing Victims group I had quite a lot to do with the media, although we had a particular media spokesman. I was interviewed quite, I was interviewed on a number of occasions for television and for radio, gave interviews to people, and I generally I found the media interest very, very proper actually. And I was always tried to give a sort of balanced, you know balanced verdict on whatever the particular issue was at the time, sort of appropriate to, because they weren’t, we had in the group, you know, extremities of views. I mean there were views that said, you know, “The government is totally at fault,” you know, “The Foreign Office should be dumped into the sea,” and “This is appalling,” I mean we, and, and, and I perhaps you know, temperamentally I think that was not correct, it was much more to be more engaged, so we had a very good press spokesman, and I, I gave that person back up and from time to time I was asked to give opinions as the chairman of the group, which I did, and hopefully you know properly and appropriately.
Jocelyn chaired the UK Bali Bombing Victims Group. The group offered support to members and tried...
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I’d just like to move onto one other thing, the UK Bali Bombing Victims Group, which was set up, not by me, but by on the initiative of a wonderful fireman, who was there at the time, and some of the relatives and it grew into actually a very a quite a sort of cohesive body. There were a lot of issues related to the event that we addressed, and I think it was quite therapeutic for a lot of people, to sort of share their feelings, and a lot of friendships and warmth grew between different people there. I for some reason, and it may have been that I had to some extent; I think I recovered more quickly than some people, and I was asked to chair the UK Bali Bombing Group, which I did. I didn’t really want to frankly, but I thought it was the right thing to do, and they wanted me to do it, so I did it, and I tried, because there were, there were very different people, there was something like twenty, there were some with dual nationality, say about 28 families who had brothers, sons, husbands, whatever killed and there were of course a lot of people who had been injured, who should not be forgotten because they were traumatised too. And I saw how people reacted to it differently and how people recovered. There were a group of people who couldn’t really move forward. I know it was very, very sad and one would try to sort of organise counselling, and we even tried to get some money out of the government for that, and there was all problems about compensation, and you know, and issues like that. I mean some of the people were, were not, were not well off and it, you know, it was very, very difficult for them, and we tried to. But it was it was very interesting for me to see that, you know, some people were able to recover and move forward, and others less so. And in fact some cases, they even got worse, they got sort of stuck, and it was it was very it was, it was frightening actually. And you know people could not go back to work, and oh you know some of the, some of the cases were, were quite horrendous. And, but others were stronger, and I like to think that you know I made this early, conscious decision to move forward, you know, and not to blame people.
Jocelyn was totally stunned when he suspected that his son Ed had been killed in the Bali bomb...
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Yeah, well, the day of the, on the Sunday morning I went to get the Sunday papers, and I got the Sunday Times and I saw a sort of sideline saying big bomb in Bali, many killed. I had a terrible sense of foreboding actually because I knew he was there, and in fact he’d called me on Friday, the Friday with great sense of excitement to say that he’d finally been able to get away and was going down with the boys to play rugby in this tournament in Bali. I said to him I thought Bali was a wonderful place, and it was a, would be great, should be a good weekend, and he was a great traveler and so, it was fairly typical of him to go off at the last minute to Bali.
So I knew he was there. I just drove home and as I came in through the door my partner handed me the phone and said, “Ah here’s somebody from Hong Kong.” It was a friend of his, who wanted to, to speak to me and he obviously with the time zone had, was much further ahead, and he said, “Look the situation is very serious, a lot of people have been killed, the Hong Kong Football club are doing their best to find out what’s happened to their people, we have no news, news of Ed, I think the situation is quite serious”.
I also knew, because he was a great communicator that, you know, if there’s been any problem and he was, he was able to communicate, he would have found a way to phone me, even in the middle of the night, so, I pretty well realised that the situation was pretty desperate. But I was, I guess at that point in time I was just totally stunned, it was almost unbelievable to believe that he’d been killed, but you know as the day wore on, I sort of became more and more, to some extent resigned. It was, it was absolutely awful, I think it would be fair to say that that boy was the apple of my eye.
Ed's body was brought back from Bali so that he could be buried with his family. The gravestone is inscribed, 'There was a smile that brings us roses in December.'
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We arranged for his body to be shipped back to Ireland, and we buried him in the family graveyard which was, all of that was a positive, having been through a lot of negatives, you know, we had him back. He could be buried amongst his family, I think his Grandfather said that he was the, something like the seventh or eighth in a line, who were buried in that graveyard from the middle of the nineteenth century, and we have a very, we now have a very nice granite tombstone I guess you call it, which was contributed by his Godfather who is from County Cork, and it has a lovely inscription on it which he actually stated at the memorial service was, “There was a smile that brings us roses in December,” well they’re quite common now, roses in December, but it, it it’s the kind, it’s a lovely phrase, and that is on his, that is on his gravestone, and we attend the grave. And every time I go to Ireland which is probably every two or three months, I wouldn’t go without going to see, to go to visit the gravestone. And actually there’s a, a, in a little village nearby there’s a most wonderful a little pub, that’s a sort of hole in the wall, just the sort of place that Ed would like, and one sort of feels that he might slip out every now and again and go and have a pint.