Justice For Jeremiah - About Jerry

His Life

Jeremiah was born on the 10th November 1980 in London.

He had two older sisters.  Jeremiah was very close to the sister nearest to him in age and they played imaginative games that continued for days. We lived near to the beautiful open spaces of Hampstead Heath extension and he enjoyed a happy childhood surrounded by many friends and family. However both he and his sister suffered from asthma. Later this led to Jeremiah developing a responsible attitude to managing his health and being aware of when he should seek help from doctors.

All his school reports describe him as a cheerful boy because he saw the funny side of life. From an early age he was resourceful. I never forget the time when he was five and he decided he wanted to earn more pocket money so he and his closest friend Adam collected stones from the garden and set up a store in front of the house to sell them to passers bye. Jeremiah loved animals and we all shared the care of our dog and her puppies.

He went to Fitzjohns Infant School in Hampstead, followed by Quainton School for Boys and at the age of 11 was awarded a scholarship to a famous boarding school in the country called Christ Hospital.

Jeremiah was very sociable and popular. He took responsibility for caring for others and had ideals for making the world a better place. I can remember at least three events when he acted with courage when he faced danger. All of these involved protecting other people. He was never afraid to face challenges or to speak his mind. The strongest feature of his character was his ability to question and his independence of spirit. He had a well developed sense of justice and would never be silent if he thought something was wrong. He loved the world of ideas and debate. His friends thought of him as "an original" someone with a zest for life and a lively sense of humour. There was always laughter and fun when Jerry was around.
Jeremiah enjoyed a close relationship with his Irish born father Hugo, with whom he played football and tennis. When Jeremiah turned seven years old Hugo and I were divorced. We tried to reduce the hurt for our children by going together as a family to seek counseling from the Tavistock Institute, a center famous for providing this kind of support. We wanted to achieve an amicable divorce. We remained a loving and close 'knit family and Hugo moved with us to Harrow and lived in a house nearby.

At the boarding school in the country Jeremiah had opportunities for a lot of sport, drama, poetry and music all of which he loved. The country air improved his asthma so much that it was no longer a problem and the doctors were very pleased. He was gifted academically and got A's in Latin, Greek and English. He was always very proud of his eldest sister who encouraged him to love both classical and modern music. Jeremiah measured how much he liked a girl in terms of how far they were like his younger sister. 

Jeremiah always confided in me and when he was studying in Brighton - he came home to see me at weekends. We shared many interests and would often go to films and the theatre together. When he was studying in Paris we talked on the phone frequently.

I am Jewish and although Hugo is not, we have always kept to Jewish traditions in the home. At the same time Jeremiah was interested in learning about different religions and cultures. He liked to have friends who came from different backgrounds and had no time for any kind of racial or religious prejudice.

Jeremiah was interested in his own religion. When he was seven we all joined the Liberal Progressive Jewish movement. He took part fully in the movement'’s camps and visits to Israel and was always keen to learn Jewish history.  He formed close friendships within his peer group which he kept all his life. It was with these friends that he developed his love of discussing ideas and formulating ethics to carry through his life.

He had a close relationship with his grandfather who escaped Hitler's Germany. He made a special study in his History project about anti-Semitism in Europe. He told me once that in his life he had never experienced anti-Semitism and he could not understand how anyone could ever express such views after the Holocaust.

He had a very happy year after leaving school sharing a house with young students in Brighton. He was preparing for more A levels as he had a dream of studying in Paris and wanted to study French in France. .

In 2002 he went to study in Paris. He worked very hard, being independent, resourceful, making the most of things even if they got tough. Paris was expensive and money was short. He was always taking on part time jobs to supplement his income and planning one day to get his own mobile phone and laptop. For the moment he used an old fashion typewriter and delighted in this.  He loved using the Libraries and found his new life in Paris exciting. He had an enquiring mind and a zest for learning. He studied in Paris at the Sorbonne and the British Institute. After his death the Director of the British Institute Christophe Campos wrote: "Jeremiah was a student in my second-year course. I will miss him personally. He was the only student in the group who asked questions in the middle of my lectures, which I always appreciate. He was progressing well and was committed to his studies."A  student  friend  Sarah  wrote: "What I admired the most about Jeremiah was his need to question things. He never accepted anything he didn't understand or agree with. He was never afraid to ask questions or to voice his own opinion. He loved learning, yet lived very much in the present, sampling the various flavours of life."

He arrived in Paris just around the time of 7/11 and this shocked and dismayed him greatly. From that time onwards he started to read the newspapers and follow world events. He protested against Le Penn but had no other involvement in political action.

In March 2002 he met Maya, a French music student and fell deeply in love. His life now revolved around her and I felt he was growing to be a charming and loving young man.  It was a serious bond with Maya and she told me he spoke of how he would love to be a young father. She described to me how he always care for others, whether it was the poor on the street, the underdog or the oppressed. They shared a great love of music and he was devoted to encouraging Maya's talents as a classical singer and watched her performances with love and admiration.

In December 2003 Jeremiah came home for the winter holidays and invited Maya to London when we met her for the first time. He asked that we had a proper Jewish Friday night with the Sabbath blessings. Maya met with Jeremiah's sisters and they went together to a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet where his sister was playing in the orchestra. Later Maya sang for us and sang with Jeremiah's grandfather an aria from The Marriage of Figaro. I will never forget how proud of Maya  Jeremiah was that night. We could see that they were just the picture of young love.

I cherish these last few days as precious memories for we were all together for the last time. After this Jeremiah went back to return to Paris, never to return. I am so glad that I saw him so happy. A friend met him by chance on the station at Victoria, when he was about to return to Paris and they had a conversation in which Jeremiah said: "You must come to Paris. There are so many things to do. It's a wonderful life there " come"  Jeremiah related all the things that Paris had to offer and then as she saw him about to leave on the train her only thoughts were how well things seemed to have worked out for him as he was returning to such a full and wonderful life in Paris.

Little did any of us know how soon his young life would be so cruelly cut short.

Erica Duggan.


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