Compered, and co-organised by ‘retired’ poet Yanny Mac, the crowd were first addressed by Lord Falconer QC who reminded us all about the very important cause behind the event. Next we heard the former Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, read the poignant poem, Serenade, written about his mother’s accident which led to her death.
Lightening the mood after Andrew’s moving poem was poet and author John Osborne who read out a selection of his own very funny poems. Award-winning actress Susan Hampshire then read an excerpt from Nell Dunn’s play Home Death. She read about the end of George Melly’s life, from his wife Diana’s perspective – managing to utilise three of our wonderful Patrons, Susan, Nell and Diana, in one. We then saw a recording of Patrick Stewart reading George Szirtes poem, Matrix Reloaded. Luke Wright concluded the first half with a performance of three of his own excellent poems.
After the interval, where DJ78, the first carbon neutral DJ, serenaded us, we heard actress Dame Janet Suzman read current Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy’s, Premonition; a poem about her own mother’s death. Author Deborah Moggach then told us about ‘her mother the murderess’. Deborah’s mother helped a friend to end her life in the 1980’s and ended up serving a prison term – an experience that had repercussions for the rest of her life. After Deborah we heard from another award winning writer, Joe Dunthorne, who read one of his short stories.
Then came the eagerly anticipated Q&A with Sir Terry Pratchett and Rob Wilkins. Terry and Rob ascended to the stage to rapturous applause, and kicked off by describing how making the documentary Choosing to Die impacted on their views on assisted dying. They were then asked a number of questions from the audience and prominent supporters through video and via Yanny Mac. We will be uploading footage of the Q&A session in due course.
The event was a great success, thanks to all those who came and those who took part. We hope it marks the beginning of what will be an important and successful year for the campaign.