A ‘stalwart of Southend’ is being remembered and honoured posthumously through the publication of a new book, designed to raise money for the charity that supported him.
Garry Lowen died in April 2022 at Fair Havens Hospice, a year after his diagnosis of motor neurone disease. The 63-year-old played a huge part in Southend’s community over the years. He owned the Gleneagles Guest House, was a member of Thorpe Bay Rotary for more than 20 years and chaired the Southend Carnival Association and many mayoral charity committees. In January 2022, Garry was granted Freedom of the Borough, Southend’s highest honour.
From the point of his diagnosis, Garry and his wife Penny were supported by Fair Havens in Prittlewell through its supportive and palliative care. This took the form of activities and therapies as an outpatient at the Fair Havens Hub, and staying within the hospice for symptom control and at the end of his life. Garry was instrumental in creating Fair Havens’ ‘Therapy Through Nature’ group, ensuring that they had the right equipment and planters, which were built specially by Thorpe Bay Rotary.
Garry often talked of writing a book, and when diagnosed with motor neurone disease resigned himself that it would never happen. But Garry’s cousin, Sarah Atkins, made sure that his legacy would continue.
Sarah, 57, lives in Suffolk but was born in Leigh-on-Sea. A retired deputy headteacher, Sarah had always wanted to write. “I started to visit Southend once a week to work with Garry on the book. He would talk and I would record, take notes and ask questions. When I got home, I would write up our day’s work. After a few sessions, it began to take shape and we could see how it could progress.
“Garry was a firm believer in community, that we should all put in more than we took out and that is a central theme through the book. He had a very interesting life and was a huge contributor to life in Southend.
“Garry was a facilitator rather than the big name at the front of everything so he also wanted to write his story for his children and grandchildren to see what he had done and what he stood for.”
The book is called, “And then …telling the story of the life in my years.” Many others have contributed, including family, friends, colleagues and former mayors. The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, has written the foreword to the book as he and Garry were in the same class at Belfairs School.
Garry was friends with Sir David Amess, who had promised to write the afterword. Following his tragic death, Lady Amess kindly contributed as she knew Garry too. Penny’s daughter, Megan, has designed the front and back cover.
Sarah continues, “Garry was keen that Fair Havens benefitted from the book as he was very grateful for the care he received, as was the whole family. He had raised money for the hospice in the past through Thorpe Bay Rotary Club so his links to the charity go back several years.
“I finished the text before Garry died and we took turns reading it to him so he would hear it all. Garry was a very special man and we hope that lots of people will enjoy reading his story and be inspired by his values and commitment to his community. We hope that we can raise some money for the hospice in his memory.”
“And then …telling the story of the life in my years” can be ordered by emailing email@example.com with all profits benefiting Fair Havens.
Published 7th October 2022