If you’ve ever heard me deliver one of my ‘Warrior’ stroke-awareness talks, you’ll probably know that I often mention a girl I know who had a stroke in her early teenage years.
I mention her to help dispel the widespread and dangerous opinion, one I held before 3.15pm on Monday December 16 2013, that strokes only ever happen to 'old' people.
Yet my young friend was struck down at the age of 14. Her stroke was caused by having too many high-energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster etc) - the kind of drinks which were in the news this week because the Government is considering banning their sale to under-18s.
Her name is Jade Driscoll-Batchelor and she designed my Warrior tattoo, hence she is kind of where the Warrior brand started. She lives in south London; as regular readers will know, I live in Tamworth, just north of Birmingham. We're not exactly neighbours so we see each other incredibly rarely other than on Facebook. But I was speaking at a networking breakfast meeting in London on Wednesday and due to the joys of the train-ticketing system in this country, although the meeting ended at 10am, I was stuck in the metropolis until 4.45pm.
So I met Jade, who I call my Warrior-Princess and her sister in Central London for lunch. Jade and I share more than just our stroke-survivor experience; we have the same taste in loud music ('Warriors' by Papa Roach is our theme tune) and we both love body-ink although Jade, being quite a bit younger, has rather more tattoos than I do - at the moment.
I won't go into it here, but the story of Jade's life makes the 'Warrior-Princess' nickname more than appropriate. To say she's a fighter is like saying that Harry Kane is quite good at football - an understatement of the most ridiculous kind. Yet her experiences have left her shy and reserved about meeting people and not the most confident of young women at times.
We talked for a couple of hours on Wednesday and she told me she had considered writing a blog, but didn't know where to start. Hands up if you've ever considered writing a blog but didn't know where to start.... It happens to us all.
As I said recently, this is about my seventh blog over the years. I've written about football, about sport, about politics, about life in general but they weren't quite right - this one hits the mark.
So I told Jade she should write her blog (I know a good proofreader if she needs one, lol....). She has a lot to say, some stories to tell and as my good friend Graham Todd (aka the social-media cowboy) always says, we all have stories to tell; the thing is having the confidence to go out and tell them.
Seeing Jade and her sister made my week and possibly my month. It wasn't a carefully though-out plan - it wasn't even on the horizon until Sunday evening and the script had any number of re-writes before Wednesday lunchtime - but life isn't about carefully thought-out plans. Life, especially when you are in the position that Jade and I find ourselves in, is about going out and making things happen. As my good mate Taz Thornton is fond of saying, JFDI. And if you think I'm telling you what that stands for.....
A pair of Warriors pictured in London this week.