PERKY SAM FUND
The Wine Loft, Auckland
Saturday July 17, 2004 Simon Perkins
Welcome to the launch of the Perky Sam Fund in honour of dear Sam
who passed away a year ago yesterday. I would like to thank you
all very much for coming – especially those of you who have
traveled from Melbourne and Christchurch. I would also like to acknowledge
Megan and Deidre, who have played a major role in setting up the
fund and have organised tonight’s party. Thank you guys very
Everyone who knew Sam will have their own special
memories and will be forever inspired by her grace, her dignity,
her zest for life, her compassion, wisdom and her wit – words
of course don’t go close to painting the complete and beautiful
picture that is Sam.
Sam was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s seven years
ago, and it is inspiring the way she, not just dealt with the disease,
but the way she almost seemed to embrace it – as an opportunity
to learn – to learn more about medicine, in particular a holistic
approach to medicine, different philosophies, to learn about the
power of the mind and more about herself. Sam’s illness eventually
took her life – but it never seemed to dampen her spirit –
and her spirit will never die and she will continue to inspire and
be a huge influence to those who were privileged to know her.
The Perky Sam Fund, with Megan, Deidre, Sarah O’Hagan,
Grant East, Oli and I as trustees and with Mum and Dad as settlers
of the trust, aims to raise money so that Sam’s influence
will extend beyond us, to make a positive contribution to the lives
of others. It’s our way of giving something back, on Sam’s
behalf, and in her honour.
(The Perky Sam website) will become the focal point
of the fund – which will include personal tributes, that everyone
is invited to contribute to, Paypal to make online donations, information
on the fund and where the money is going, information on past and
‘up coming’ events – which will include pictures
from tonight and the other launch parties taking place this weekend
in LA and London, and a retail therapy section, initially selling
cards featuring some of the amazing photographs Sam took on her
travels around the world and NZ.
So the fund will allow Sam’s enormous spiritual
presence to have a positive and tangible benefit to the lives of
those who are fighting cancer, or to help fund research or potentially
provide scholarships to those studying in the field. I know Sam
would approve - she was spiritual, but at the same time a pragmatist
and a ‘doer’.
I constantly reflect on Sam’s life in total
awe of her wisdom and her wit – she had a classic and famous
mantra – “I don’t do money and I don’t do
time.” - The very two things that clog the minds of us less
sophisticated thinkers, consuming us, causing stress and anxiety.
Of course Sam was wise and intelligent enough, that
she always seemed to have money and time in abundance, without ever
being controlled by their constant requirement. She embraced retail
therapy and Buddhist philosophy simultaneously! Like her holistic
approach to medicine – she had a holistic approach to life,
always maintained an open mind, she was a listener who had a constant
enthusiasm for different people, ideas and places.
In the six years since she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s,
Sam achieved more than most of us would in a dozen life-times. She
completed her medical degree while undergoing radio therapy; she
traveled to Mexico, the US and India. She climbed the Himalayas
in Nepal and came to Melbourne many times, including for our wedding
and Archie’s birthday – she would never miss an event.
She worked in London at the Children’s Hospital at Great Ormond
Street. She studied Art History at Canterbury University while undergoing
chemotherapy and at one stage organised her chemo regime around
her great friend Sarah O’Hagan’s wedding – to
be there and make a speech that has become legendary. As Sam’s
oncologist said when Dad enquired whether the trip to the wedding
in the Bay of Islands was a good idea – “I don’t
think there is any way we can stop her!”
Sam came to Melbourne to attend the Ian Gawler Centre,
where money raised tonight will be donated. I went to pick her up
from there and she showed me around with such enthusiasm –
explaining all the ideas she had learned and the people she had
met. It was a privilege to be there with her – at a place
that meant so much to her and inspired her so much.
It changed her life – although only to a point
– as she said – “I hope all this spiritual healing
stuff doesn’t curb my enthusiasm for shopping!” Of course
Sam’s wit is legendary and where-ever she went
she accumulated friends from all walks of life – she could
relate to and endear herself to anyone.
One evening in Melbourne she casually announced that
a friend – Donlevy Fitzpatrick was coming over. I couldn’t
believe it – Donlevy – the famous Melbourne entrepreneur,
property developer, and restaurateur. He restored The George Hotel
in St Kilda and owns The Melbourne Wine Room, amongst many other
things. He was in books and I’d wanted to meet him for years
– and now he was coming over to take Sam to meet a famous
local chief who was going to give them a cooking demonstration with
the new diet they had learned at Ian Gawler.
I immediately started cleaning the apartment –
which we had recently renovated – I was hoping like hell he
liked it and I started nonchalantly positioning images of my work
on the table – which I intended to show him. Sam stopped me
in my tracks, ‘Simon’, she explained, ‘the guy
is fighting cancer – please don’t stress him out!’
Fair point, I realized. At the same time, there was never any indication
or sense from Sam that she was in that position too.
I last saw Sam here in Auckland in May last year
when we all met to see Oli’s exhibition at the Bath Street
Gallery. Sam was there on opening night as radiant and social as
ever – in fact her picture ended up in the social pages of
the newspaper – despite the fact that she needed to take an
oxygen tank on the plane to get her here.
Sam was and is a legend – and that is the point
of this fund – full respect. I would like to finish by reading
you an email we received from a friend of Sam’s in London
– Ken Robinson, which encapsulates
perfectly the obvious need for this fund – the obvious inevitability
of its creation due to the inspiration Sam ignites within us.
Can you please charge your glasses so we can toast
And as she used to write at the end of her letters…’Blue
Skies Forever’…to Sam.