People’s worlds collapse around us every single day. We hear of it on the news, read of it in the papers or online, and in our heads we assume, that will never happen to me. And maybe it won’t – but then again, sometimes it does, or to someone close to us. On Saturday evening this young man, 17-year-old Allister Maguire Buck was killed in a road collision in Stockton, Norfolk. He was a student at my school and in my year-group, and I know when we return after our half-term holiday tomorrow morning the rooms and corridors of our large sixth-form house will be heavy with the knowledge of his loss.
I can’t claim to have known Allister all that well. The most time we spent together was a week in Madrid when we both participated in an international session of the Model European Parliament – the above photograph was taken in the Spanish Senate at the Opening Ceremony (he went on to speak to over 200 people in the Spanish Congress as part of this opportunity). Yet although we were by no means good friends, his presence around school has always been one I was glad of. What was always immediately obvious about Allister – even more so as one scrolls through the countless condolence messages which currently flood my Facebook feed – was that he could make anyone crack a smile, regardless of the situation.
At times like these, people are sometimes told to consider the bigger picture, and on this occasion I think this is crucial. Allister has not been the only victim on Norfolk’s roads this weekend: an un-named 80-year-old man involved in a collision on Friday evening died the following day in hospital, and 14-year-old Shannon Goodson was killed in a collision involving a bus on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, five people were taken to hospital after a crash involving three cars on the A47, and this morning police had to attend a two-vehicle crash which saw yet another civilian taken to hospital for their injuries. This, all in the space of one weekend.
One injury is shocking. But three deaths and six injured in five separate accidents is simply appalling. Allister had his whole life ahead of him; the world was at his feet, until it was snatched from underneath him. He was loved and cherished by so many, and despite having known him far too little, I feel privileged to have spent the time I did with him.
Something needs to happen to prevent this from ever happening again – and it should not take death to convince us of that.
I’m more than a little overwhelmed by the response to this post; in just a few hours it has had just under 5,000 views.
This is, of course, no testimony to my writing, but to Allister himself, and I believe goes to show just the amount of lives he managed to touch in fewer than 18 years of life. I hope it is in some way something those closest to him can keep hold of in this difficult time.