Adam was at the school from 1982-1989 and will be sadly missed by his friends, family and all who knew him at the School.
We are conscious that some people from his time at school may not be in contact with us and we would be very grateful if you could pass on this information to those that you know.
As is the usual practice, we would like to place an obituary for him in the next OI Journal and would be very grateful if anyone felt they could come forward to write one. Alternatively, if you know of any stories or memories, please pass them on so we could put them together for the publication. Address any contributions to me through firstname.lastname@example.org.
With best wishes,
Adam was ahead of his time. He both arrived on the scene and departed far too early, but he packed into his 51 years about 150 years’ worth of life.
It started in 1971 when, showing his typical determination and an early disregard for normal protocol, hygiene or carpets he started to push his way out into the world before any doctor or midwife could arrive, leaving Dad to deliver him personally by himself at home in Ipswich on the bedroom floor. That was quite a moment. Dad desperately tried to protect the carpet with a boat cover, but Adam got the better of him.
This was quite a shock to my system, abruptly ending my monopoly position of only child. Worse still, it soon emerged from a very early age that this young upstart was seriously clever. One of the first signs of this annoying brainpower (along with a vivid sense of imagination) came when Adam and the rest of his primary school class, having just been taught to read, was asked as a brief homework assignment to write a short paragraph describing an adventure, real or imagined. Both we and the teacher were absolutely flabbergasted when young Adam, aged about 6, handed in what was basically an early attempt at the Booker Prize, a brilliantly written 12 page novel about how he single-handedly took on and defeated a sabre-toothed tiger. I think he might in fact have had some help from a woolly mammoth, but the quality of the writing for someone so young was clearly a sign of what was to come.
Unsurprisingly, he went on to obtain a scholarship to Ipswich School. Mum and Dad asked him what he would like as a reward. I suppose that most 11 year olds would probably go for money, gift tokens or toys of some sort. Instead, Adam, who was different, iconic and always happy with the simple things in life, replied “I’d like to go for a curry at the Taj Mahal please”. Although he may have meant the real Taj Mahal in India, the Norwich Road version served just as well, which ensured to Dad’s relief that the scholarship savings were not eaten up in flight costs.
Wildlife (especially birds) and academic work were two of Adam’s main passions and he was damn good at both of them, much to my irritation. My only saving grace in our sibling rivalry was that Adam was not quite so talented at sports. He did however make up for his lack of talent with tremendous courage at having a go. We come from a sailing family and so despite his very eloquent and very loud reservations, Adam was placed in a boat from quite an early age. Dad explained all the key safety aspects like “One hand for the boat and one hand for yourself” and “If things go wrong, always always stay with the boat” etc. etc., but theory is one thing and practice quite another. The highlight of Adam’s sailing career and a classic character-defining moment came during what is known as “Junior Week”, one of the main regattas for junior sailors in our region. Adam’s crew-mate for this prestigious event was a certain Mr. Ed Balch (OI 1982-89). I think it is fair to say that Ed’s sailing skills were very much on a par with Adam’s. In one of the early races, we all had to sail round a tall metal pole sticking out from the river, called “Park Farm Beacon” which was the notorious gybe mark in the course, presenting a potentially difficult manoeuvre for novice sailors. Adam and Ed had therefore taken the sensible precaution of falling half a mile behind the rest of the fleet so as to have maximum space for this tricky manoeuvre. Unfortunately however, the inevitable happened and their boat capsized. Adam and Ed were flung into the cold water. Ignoring or more likely forgetting Dad’s advice, they instinctively let go of the boat and swam to get hold of the pole, leaving the boat to rapidly disappear with the tide into the distance. Eventually the rescue boat arrived and much to Adam’s disbelief reassured him that they would get the boat back if he could just hold on for a few more minutes. Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet had completed the first lap of the course and were coming round again, so there was now a stream of teenage sailors (myself included) pouring round Park Farm Beacon staring with a mixture of bewilderment and absolute delight at our two young heroes clinging grimly onto the metal pole. They took a lot of flak, but to their credit they completed the regatta and ever since then in my mind “Park Farm Beacon” has always been “Balch Lusher Beacon”.
Despite such occasional sporting setbacks, Adam’s childhood years were hugely enjoyable, with great summer holidays ranging from Dorset and Cornwall to France and yacht sailing in Greece and Turkey, this time with Dad doing the practical stuff and Adam surprisingly showing great navigational skills, bar a bit of a scare when he gave Dad the depth readings in feet when they should have been in metres. Adam obviously carried his binoculars with him wherever he went and soon amassed an impressive array of rare bird sightings.
His academic success continued unabated, culminating in a place at Lincoln College, Oxford University to read history. He told us, only partly tongue-in-cheek, that his choice of Lincoln College was based largely on its reputation for the high standard of food they served, including curries. I suppose that would be consistent with his choice of destination for his “gap” year before uni, namely India, where he was finally able to have his curry at the real Taj Mahal.
After university, Adam decided that he would like to be a broadsheet journalist. As usual, his determination and dedication to the task were unparalleled, even to the point of sleeping for a while on the thick carpet floor of the apartment I was renting with some friends in West Hampstead. I did offer to get him a camp bed to keep him off the carpet but, like Dad before me back in 1971, Adam got the better of me.
Adam was exceptionally brave. When asked to go into the war zone of Iraq as a journalist for the Telegraph, he didn’t flinch. He actually took the opportunity to combine work with more birdwatching. Travelling in a tank with some tough American soldiers, they were quite amazed by his determination to spot with his binoculars the opposing Iraqi army and any snipers, but in fact he had the binoculars in his hand because he was desperate to spot some rare desert bird.
Later on, he faced his enormous health problems with the same unwavering courage, without any complaints whatsoever, whilst always maintaining his often self-deprecating and almost always dry, mischievous sense of humour. One prime example of the latter is how, flaunting any protocol for age considerations, he gleefully introduced my oldest son Henry to the delights of Borat, at the age of about 10. So thanks to Uncle Adam, Henry is now a leading expert on Borat and the Borat-themed exchanges between the two of them, particularly some of their birthday cards, were a constant source of family amusement.
Strangely enough, some of the very greatest moments of joy and happiness in Adam’s life came to him after his health issues arrived, because it was during this period that he persuaded the wonderful Carole to marry him and during this period that he had two fantastic sons Tom and William. At one point in time, it had looked like none of that would have been remotely possible, but thanks to Adam’s spirit and the amazing medical team at UCLH, he came through 14 months of purgatory, becoming the NHS “Miracle Man” in the process, to make it possible. We know that Adam considered himself exceptionally fortunate to have enjoyed such unexpected extra joy and happiness and for that we can be very grateful.
Adam was generous to the end. He even gave his body to medical research so as to help save others. We can all learn from the values Adam exuded. He was a kind-hearted, humorous, exceptionally brave, loving and much-loved husband, father, son, brother, nephew and uncle who will be desperately sorely missed but always, always remembered. For Rob and myself, it was and remains an absolute privilege to be his brother.
Mark Lusher, Adam's brother (OI 1975-82)
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