A message from Janine Irons MBE, Gary’s partner and co-founder/CEO of Tomorrow’s Warriors:
I wanted to reach out to all those who have been so kind to get in touch and/or visit us following Gary’s stroke on 29 January.
Since announcing the news, we have been bowled over by what can only be described as a tsunami of love and good wishes from our nearest and dearest, our very precious and utterly extraordinary Tomorrow’s Warriors extended family, and the wider music community. This news came as a massive shock to all who know and love Gary. Understandably, the response has been huge and therefore pretty overwhelming, so I hope you will forgive us if we haven’t managed to reply to each of you directly.
Gary is making excellent progress. We both have been heartened by the many ‘Get Well’ cards now adorning his hospital windowsill, and the multitude of emails, texts and social media messages from people sending their good wishes and offers of support. We are blessed to have a wonderful circle of family and friends who have rallied round, cooked food, brought useful gifts to aid rehabilitation, or have just been there for us and our family. And we’ve been deeply moved to receive some truly beautiful messages from people expressing their gratitude for the positive impact Gary and Tomorrow’s Warriors have had on their lives, reminding us why what we do is so important, and giving Gary further encouragement to get better soon. However, I think the most touching moment of the week was when we received a video of our Junior Warriors led by Dian Gasper, playing their hearts out and calling out a ‘Get Well Soon’ message to Gary! It actually made both of us cry! Big up our little Warriors xxx!
We have nothing but praise for the outstanding staff in our NHS who work so hard to return their patients to good health. If only the same could be said for the hospital food! Suffice to say we’ve been running a ‘home-made meals on wheels’ service, with some delicious contributions from family and friends, for which we are eternally grateful!
Gary has been moved out of the acute ward in the Specialist Stroke Unit but remains under the care of the specialist team while he awaits transfer to a Stroke Rehabilitation facility, which we anticipate will happen in the coming week. This will enable him to undertake more intensive physiotherapy to aid and speed his recovery, and ensure an early return to music making.
Although he can now take a few steps unaided, he must continue using his ‘chariot’ while he works on rehabilitating the left side of his body. Mobility in his arm and fingers is pretty good, but there’s still a way to go, and he’s improving daily. There are no indications to suggest any degradation in cognitive skills or ability, which is great news. And last week, we got the clearest indication yet that Gary’s memory is as good as it ever was when he regaled visitors with colourful accounts of some of his past tours, almost causing us to get thrown out for all the shrieks of laughter coming from his hospital room!
Meantime, we keep on keepin’ on! Gary is definitely on the road to a good recovery and, thanks to our lovely team and others supporting us, we’re managing to keep all the balls in the air (I think!). Our young musicians continue to blow everyone’s mind wherever they go, and our alumni continue to spread the great gospel of jazz according to TW. We are SO proud of them all! (Thank you, John Fordham, for the fantastic review of Camilla George and Andrew McCormack, and the lovely nod to Tomorrow’s Warriors https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/feb/09/camilla-george-andrew-mccormack-review-ronnie-scotts-london)
Our ‘Gary Quote of the Week’ came last night when he was telling a Tomorrow’s Warriors alumnus about the future stars coming up through the TW ranks: ‘It’s SUCH an exciting time, that’s why I can’t wait to get back and engage with them again!’ It was a beautiful moment. I could see the thrill in his eyes, across his face and the rush of energy through his body! Mind you, I could also see what a challenge it’s going to be for us to convince him to take things a bit easier once he leaves hospital!
That’s all for now. I have to say, even though we expected a sizeable reaction to the news of Gary’s stroke, we really weren’t prepared for the actual scale of it, so it’s been far more difficult to keep up than either of us ever imagined. So, if we haven’t been able to thank you in person for your card, or respond directly to your message as yet, please don’t be offended – we’ve been literally inundated!
Heartfelt thanks from both of us for the love, encouragement and kindness extended to our family as we navigate this unfamiliar territory.