Every now and again life finds a way of throwing wonderful people into your path; people who it would have been very easy not to meet, but without whom our lives would be so much poorer.
Had Al & Barb Love from Calgary, Canada picked another B&B to stay in when they first visited NZ some 10 years ago, rather than the one run by my parents-in-law, we would never have met them. From that chance meeting a friendship was forged with my in-laws and when Al & Barb came back to NZ a couple of years later we were introduced. After 5 minutes in their company Sal and I were in love with the Loves! Rarely had we met a couple who exude so much happiness, humility and genuine goodness, while displaying a fantastic passion for people and for life.
Over the next couple of years we stayed in regular contact despite the distance that separates us. Then in 2006 we received the warmest hospitality imaginable from the Loves when we visited Canada to compete in the Trans-Rockies mountain bike race. The friendship gained further strength and I still remember Al driving us to the airport when were leaving, tears in his eyes, saying “I don’t want you guys to go”.
People this good should be granted long life and good health. But unfairly, and tragically, Barb was not given what she so richly deserved. Earlier this year, after a long fight with a failing liver, and within weeks of the transplant that would have saved her, Barb passed away. We were devastated and left feeling helpless and useless on the other side of the world.
Then while planning this year’s 7in7 Challenge I had one of my rare brilliant ideas! Al is a great photographer; he loves New Zealand and he loves an adventure; he’d like to come and visit us again, and we’d love to return some of the hospitality we owe. So we have to get Al here to be Official Photographer for this year’s Challenge. …..and that I am pleased to report is exactly what is happening.
If you are around during the Challenge you’re bound to meet Al. You may not notice him at first and you won’t hear him until up close. But you will be drawn to his warmth and kindness like iron filings are drawn irresistibly to a magnet. And you too will have found a great and loyal friend.
Al, we so wish that it was ‘Team Al & Barb’ who were coming to share our big adventure. But we have the next best thing and it’s going to be so wonderful to have you along. Thanks.