Those where the words Steve Keeble used on the phone to me way back in January 2021 when he asked me to help publicise the film After 82 which he had directed and co-produced with partner and filmmaker, Ben Lord.
There has never been a memorial for those we lost to AIDS in London, yet cities and towns across the UK have had theirs for years. Yet strangely, the epicentre of the pandemic that wiped out almost a generation still waits for theirs.
The London Lighthouse, now home to the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill, London, had been a sanctuary for those who found themselves HIV positive, had been diagnosed with AIDS or simply needed somewhere to go for help and support where they had felt abandoned. Private money was put into the building of the site and it finally opened it's doors in 1986 offering "an innovative model of residential and day care for men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS and provided a refuge and respite to people marginalised and abandoned because of their diagnosis," until its sale in 2015.
Now, the garden of remembrance is the only thing that's left to show the mark of this beacon of light for AIDS and HIV sufferers of that time. A small plaque which had been moved due to weather damage still can be seen on a wall there, but that's all. Hardly the fitting tribute to the many people who not only died there and whos ashes in the garden remain, but to the people who made the Lighthouse work and the dedication they gave to those in their care for almost 20 years.
For me, it was all a learning curve. I didn't know a great deal about the Lighthouse, only through my time on the Ambulance Service. I hadn't been aware of people dying there, let alone how many yet it is through my association with Keeble and Lord and those who have come to be new friends over the last few months, that I have began to truly understand how important the Lighthouse was, and still is.