Douglas 'Dougie' Benstead

Although Doug and Lel have been part of my life all my life, we became closer and more a part of each other’s lives in the past 8 years.  In two long stays and some shorter ones we lived together at the hotel in Falmouth for a combined total of a year and a half.  One of those stays was a time of utter desperation and the support and care they gave us is impossible to quantify …. or return.  From practical day to day help, major restoration projects and unconditional emotional support, our lives were for that time completely interwoven. Therefore looking back it is difficult to reflect on one half of this amazing couple without the other – such was their inseperability.  However, we were lucky to have some one-to-one times with Doug too, which were special and precious for other reasons. Yes we spent hours together puzzling through and working on projects at the hotel, Doug sharing his amazing talents and skills, helping us with domestics, driving me back and forth to the hospital so that I could spend every day – and sometimes nights at David’s bedside – the list really is endless.   However there were also some wonderful, fun times when Doug, without prejudice simply stepped into ‘our world’.  He embraced us – and we believe loved us – for who we both are.  He came with us to the theatre, the ballet, to the cinema to see The Greatest Showman – the soundtrack of which he ended up knowing word for word, the Cornwall Homeshow – and even to Gay Pride – I hasten to add Lel came along to that one too.  Doug embraced our friends. neighbours, our hotel guests and David’s side of the family – all of whom were immediately drawn to and instantly loved that warm, friendly, gentle man.  We lived at Bosanneth as an extended family and truly LIVED each and every moment together good and bad, happy and desperate.  We tried to recreate that recently on Doug and Lel’s return to Cornwall, and although the pandemic and David’s need to isolate curbed our plans, Doug and I talked about having a work shed together, to have cinema nights, going to workshops and a hidden bottle in a meeting spot in the garden where we were going to put the world back together again.  We never got to do that, but thankfully I had the chance to spend some time with Doug in hospital in Denia.  Poor dear Lel and Bertie were left stranded in the car for two hours late one evening while Doug and I talked and talked and talked – and aside of all that Doug did for and was to us, that’s what I will miss most – our talks, our philosophising, our puzzling and ‘putting things right’, our laughs and our joking which Doug used to refer to as ‘filth’, and also his grounding, his steadfastness, his honesty and for me who has a tendency to make things complicated and often more complex than they are, his simplicity.  This last week from nowhere a circle of daffodils have suddenly shot up outside of our adjoining garden gate.  I was irritated that they hadn’t bloomed for Doug yesterday, but I could ‘hear’ him saying “they’ll come when they are ready mate’.  My last goodbye with Doug was a hug in his room at the hoslital.  It was one of those hugs that seemd to go on forever, when neither wanted to let go………        

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Clive and David

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