Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Remembering Anita

Sometimes I think I am the luckiest girl on earth.

If you had told me when I was a child that I would grow up to live in London and be part of something bigger than my own life I would have retorted with the 'when pigs fly' retort (which I was famous for chucking around, much like word confetti).

Last night I took part in a memorial service for Anita Roddick. It was a moving evening, attended by 2000 family, friends, business and development associates at the Central Hall Westminster. It was a wonderful celebration of her life, as an activist, a mother, a friend, a force for change. A short video snapshot of Anita at home and at many points in her activist career began proceedings. Various friends, associates and her two daughters spoke about her life, her courage, her laughter, her indomitable spirit, her 'Do Something. Do anything. Just do something' attitude. Each speaker, from Ken Wiwa to Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson to Robert King, Vandana Shiva to Kate Alan, spoke of her joy and endless enthusiasm, to a thunderous applause.

She always said that all her money was just a means to do what she wanted to do as an activist for the many causes she marched for, funded, backed with her name. That that was what she wanted to be defined as, above all, as an activist. That being an activist, being a voice for the voiceless, satnding up for the weak and frail, engaging in the human spirit, made her feel alive. If the plaudits were anything to go by Anita lived just the fullest life.

The evening ended with a walk along the South Bank to the National Theatre with music, dance, lit lanterns and tea lights. It was an evening of tears and laughter and the sheer volume of the applause showed how one woman made a difference to so many people. It was an evening of inspiration, a reminder that each one of us needs to be an activist in our own way, giving time or money to help someone less fortunate, someone less able. To live passionately for the causes we believe in.

The world is poorer for having lost Anita. The world is richer for having had her in it.