Tom ap Rhys Pryce was robbed and killed on 12 January 2006 as he walked home from a North London underground station to the home he shared with his fiancée, Adele Eastman. He was 31 years old. Tom and Adele were due to marry in September of the same year. Tom’s parents (John and Estella), Adele and Linklaters LLP (the law firm at which Tom worked) have since established a registered charity (in the form of a trust) as a lasting memorial to Tom.
Though I didn’t know it, Jan 13th 2006 was going to be the worst day of my life. It was a day I had been really looking forward to as our younger son Thomas, was taking us to see ‘Tin-Tin in Tibet’ at the Barbican. This was to be the first time since Christmas Eve that I was going to see Tom, as he had spent the rest of the Christmas holiday with his fiancee’s family, planning for their wedding in September.
Then came the bolt out of the blue. ‘Thomas is dead’. I could not bring myself to believe or understand these words. How could my lovely and loveable son possibly be dead? Then the stark truth really hit me – that I would never see our beloved Tom alive again. It was an inconceivable event, for which I had no preparation.
So how was my Christian faith going to help me in all this – where was God in all this? The only thing that was rock firm to lean on was Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, which I had been brought up to believe all my life. So what did it tell me, how did it help in my greatest hour of need? Well, it told me clearly “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” There was a clear promise in this. Equally clear was the teaching that instead of “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, Jesus said: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” So it seemed quite strange, but I did not feel any anger or hatred against the murderers of my son. I thought how truly dark and unhappy their lives must be that they had to kill so innocent and loved a person – how somewhere their lives must have gone very wrong. When Peter asked Jesus “How often shall I forgive my brother, seven times?” Jesus told him “Seventy times seven” and added that He was not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. The due process of the law is what I would rely on to punish those responsible for the crime, but I would not hate them.
I had been taught that God was a God of Love, and the fact that life is eternal was my main source of comfort. My precious child was carrying on, but not with us any longer. I could take comfort in this fact and continue loving him and knowing that he still loved all of us – all his wonderful qualities were carrying on, even though his physical body had gone and we would not be able to hug each other again.
I had many friends from my Church and family praying for me, and I really felt the benefit of these prayers. They helped me so much through the days ahead, as did the love I felt through the many kind letters and cards we received, and the many beautiful flowers sent to our home uplifted me. So the promise: “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted” was fulfilled and I was grateful that my faith in God was not shaken. This was the greatest test that I had ever had, and my faith did not fail me.
So what good could ever come from such a tragic event? Perhaps we could try to do a little to help prevent such crimes. The idea came to set up a Memorial Fund to help others who are less fortunate than our beloved Tom, to set them on the road that will lead to worthwhile and useful lives. Thanks to Linklaters, the Fund was set up very quickly and had a tremendous response, and has so far raised over one and a half million pounds. Over the last 4 years Tom’s Trust has helped 18 different youth related projects in the London area. These charitable concerns range from a youth club to a boxing academy, from providing special education to music lessons, but all have the aim of giving young people a chance to develop their skills and to offer them opportunities they might not otherwise get. For further information go to: www.tomaprhyspryce.com