Published in:

Life Lessons We Learned From Laddie - One Year On

Last Updated: June 28, 2022

As Laddie’s Memorial Day, on the 14th of July, approaches, we find ourselves reflecting more and more on what Laddie meant to us, and how best to honour his life and legacy.

We’ll be sharing these reflections in the weeks ahead.

Laddie had been such a part of our lives that we took his presence as a given. If he wasn’t entertaining us with his laughing, dancing, singing, teasing and fooling around, he was either in the next room or playing outside with the little brother who adored him.

Or maybe he was imagining himself competing with Real Madrid as he kicked a goal with the local team, or looking after his beloved horse, or finding other ways to remind us that he was “King Laddie.”

laddie gillett three weeks on portrait journals

Yes, Laddie continually entertained us. And now, after he was so suddenly, violently taken from our lives, we realise not only how much he meant to us, but how much he had taught us.

Here are six life lessons we learned from Laddie:

Live Life To Its Fullest

Laddie’s zest and love for life had been rubbing off on all of us in ways we didn’t fully appreciate until he was gone. Never one for second-guessing himself, or worrying about what people thought, he just jumped into life. From the moment he opened his eyes in the morning, until falling into happily exhausted sleep, Laddie lived life to the fullest.

We take comfort in knowing that not one of his fourteen years of vibrant life was wasted.

And how many people can say that?

laddie flying plane optimized

Be Kind

To see Laddie being so lovingly patient with his little brother, showing respect for older people, or looking after animals, you saw how he was naturally kind hearted. And he showed us that kindness rubs off on those around you as well.

To be around Laddie was to see that positive energy begets positive actions – and Laddie was full of both.

Every Day Is A Gift

Waking up without Laddie made us more aware of just how wonderous, yet fleeting, life is. That each day, every breath we take, and the moments we share with others are precious gifts. We are now more aware and grateful that we have been given life, and bestowed with a certain amount of time on this Earth to use as we wish.

And now that Laddie has made us more aware of those truths, we are determined to also live life to its fullest, to make each moment count. Because you never know…

Justice Requires Vigilance

We learned the hard way that justice is not a given. It is a precious, fragile right that must be continually tested and maintained to stay healthy.

We now see that, just like freedom, democracy, and other human rights, justice requires our constant vigilance, and must be nourished and protected if it is to remain viable.

In that respect, it’s like our Maya Farm that Laddie enjoyed working in. Helping it grow and produce our food was a chore, but one that gave him a great deal of satisfaction.

Is nurturing and demanding justice worth the effort? Just ask those who live in countries where it was allowed to die on the vine…

Justice Is Not Equally Applied

Other events this year showed that some legal cases move through our justice system rapidly, while others seem to languish.

One of the goals of the Justice For Laddie Foundation is to promote equal access to, and the equal application of the law, regardless of social status, money, or other factors.

There is a very good reason why those statues of Justice show her blindfolded while holding the scales.

And neither last nor least:

It Is Important to Listen to, Support, and Value Our Young People

When we lost Laddie, we realised that we also lost a part of Belize. That when Kareem Martinez took Laddie’s life, he took a piece of Belize’s future.

Laddie, like so many of Belize’s young people, was intensely curious about the world. Constantly observing and questioning, he was of that first generation of our young people who had the world at their fingertips via global media like the internet.

In a developing country like Belize, our young people are our greatest asset. Especially in this challenging world, our youths represent our nation’s potential, each one carrying the hopes and dreams of those who have gone before. But to have the best chance to achieve that potential, they must be nurtured, cared for, supported and respected.

This, we hope, will become Laddie’s Legacy. The Justice For Laddie Foundation was created to listen to and support Belizean youth. With scholarships, mentoring, career development, forums, and by giving a voice to Belize’s future custodians, The Foundation aims to help our young people fulfil their enormous potential.

These are still early days, and we admittedly have a way to go before the programs we envision can be put into play. But we are confident that, in Laddie’s name, people will rally behind supporting our young people, and make the Foundation a success.

Join us in Placencia, in Cayo, or anywhere in Belize on the 14th of July as a first step in that direction. Hold your candle high during the national “Shine A Light For Laddie” initiative, and show that you care.

We can’t bring Laddie back, but we can help make sure that his spirit, his dreams and aspirations live on.

Please stay tuned – there’s more to come before Laddie memorial Day on July 14.

The Justice For Laddie Foundation would like to invite the general public to join us in the following activities taking place in Placencia Village, Belize on July 14th directly behind the newly painted Placencia sign on the beach:

On July 14, at 2:00PM in Placencia the unveiling of his Laddies Memorial Garden will take place.

  • After the initial ceremony a "Finish Laddie's Run" marathon will begin from the place he took his last breath to his wished-for destination at Chabil Mar. All participants will receive a Laddie remembrance t-shirt and a treat bag.
  • A "Shine A Light For Laddie" initiative that communities across Belize are invited to participate in. Starting at 8.00 pm on July 14th, it's a nationwide event you can participate in wherever you are, either as an individual, a family, or a group. All you need is a candle. We encourage you to take a photo and upload it to your social media of choice and use #justiceforLaddie