Sunday 23 October 2022

Remembering Budgie Price

09:04:1962 – 22:8:2022

It is with immense sorrow that I post this tribute following the very sad passing of Budgie Price – not only the co-founder and driving force behind the Avon Roach Project but also, to me, the bestest best mate in the whole wide world; my soulmate and superhero…

As is usual with these BLOGS, some of the story will be told through the, this time rather abundant, pictures and captions, but with a slightly different flavour to this main body copy which covers some of the more personal and non-roach related elements of a truly extraordinary man.

This is without question the hardest thing I have ever had to write, and make no apology for the length or the time it has taken. I needed some time but felt it important to do this full-blown tribute that can sit here forever, unedited and unformatted to suit someone else’s layout. And, perhaps strange to say, although painful, it has been quite cathartic, as was the funeral service itself. A true sense of passing and beginning, which I know will continue.

Born in 1962, Budgie was married with two, now grown up, children and ran his own successful building company until a road traffic accident left him quadriplegic from a spinal injury at the age of twenty-seven. However, despite his life-changing physical limitations, he always found a way; and literally overcame and conquered. He was a larger-than-life example to us all; a force of nature.

He was gifted with extraordinary creativity, determination and fortitude, underpinned with an endearing mischievous humility and was, without question, one of the most inspiring characters in angling. Nobody who met or knew him could fail to be enriched by the experience. His achievements are beyond what most could even dream, and highly acclaimed whether you are a roach angler or not.

I was with him for his last afternoon at home from where he was taken to Salisbury hospital. After 10 days in intensive care, he sadly lost his battle at 1-00am on Monday 22nd August 2022, but even here not before delivering some ‘typical Budg’ moments, like telling the nurse assigned to him in ITU she had nice tits…

He spent his final hours, peacefully, in a side room within the ITU ward, where we were able to spend some personal, one on one time to say our farewells, some of the most moving moments of my entire existence, which I shall cherish forever.

What a life? What a man? What a force of nature? What a legacy? What an honour to have known him and been a part of that life?

The funeral was held on the 7th September and was quite literally standing room only to give Budgie a send-off befitting a true legend, which I was honoured to be a part of, and where I made a promise to him in my eulogy, which is included here below the pictures, that I would continue what we started with both the roach and now the barbel gravel spawning substrate enhancements and that I wouldn’t let him down.

Quite strange to say, but it was the best funeral I have ever attended. I have never laughed and cried quite so much in one day. It was the perfect send-off which we all agreed even Budgie would have enjoyed. Plenty of swearing and loud music, plus a wonderful poem written by his close friend Caroline and read by the family which is also included here below. It really is not what you will be expecting: neither was the short film of Budgie which played at the end of the service. So typically Budg’ and perhaps not for the faint-hearted, I have transcribed a few extracts at the end of this tribute.

A true reflection of the strength of his character was that despite being told after his accident that it was extremely unlikely that he would live past 40, Budgie didn’t tell me until much later and actually committed to the ten year plus Avon Roach Project plan after his estimated expiry date. He actually reached 60, during which time he/we achieved a level of Avon Roach Project success neither of us could have imagined – even revealing stuff new to science and never recorded before. And whether or not you believe in all that fate and destiny stuff, something quite peculiar happened over the years, not only getting us two to collide, but also throughout the extraordinary events and eventual astonishing success of the project. Dots were joined and stars aligned; no question. Not only did we influence the recovery of roach in the Avon with thousands of pure-strain fish using our own pioneering techniques, but also had a hand in many other significant associated issues. We helped influence the cessation of the annual mechanical weed-cut; even attending meetings as sole angling representatives as recently as a few years ago when it was tabled for reinstatement. We initiated a considerable number of fry bay excavations and stream reinstatements to provide fry and juvenile sanctuary, which is ongoing. We remain at the forefront of predation awareness and management and even organised and delivered a petition to London – also ongoing. We threw our toys out of our prams and got an agreement from Natural England that their ridiculous policy of widespread riparian tree removal would stop, sat on rivers trust committees, presented at forums and annual conferences, made TV and radio appearances (yes, I know you can’t ‘appear’ on radio) and even wrote a book. And, Budgie was there, front and centre, every inch of the way, and not as a spectator.

We did, of course, also have to go through the pain barrier with some organisations and chest-beating, egotistic naysayers, and it was Budgie’s vision, determination and fearlessness, that kept it all, and me, going. I certainly could not have done it without him… He was a force of nature.

And although worlds apart in terms of our backgrounds; me a printer and him a builder, we reckon we ended up with the perfect blend – as long as I did what I was told…

So, it’s nice to think that maybe the Avon Roach Project, and me, actually contributed to the twenty years of ‘extra time’ he played before the final whistle blew.

Despite his accident; a moment in time of unimaginable misfortune that changed his world, Budgie blames nobody and was never angry or bitter, he simply adapted, as did those around him. And, given his circumstances, he’d have had every right to take more than he gave, but he didn’t and what he gave, particularly to the environment, puts most to shame. Even his own garden was given to wild flowers for the bees and butterflies.

As if breaking his neck wasn’t enough to dampen the spirit and focus perspective, Budgie then again sailed scarily close to death some eight years later by getting septicaemia, and was given just a 10% chance of survival. So serious was it that his family were called to the hospital to say their goodbyes – that was 25 years ago… Still not content with knocking that many times on deaths door, and through cumulative circulatory related issues, which I’ll not go into here, he needed both his legs amputated just below the knees; which, spookily, was done exactly 31 years to the very day he’d had the accident that deprived him the use of them, but was home again from this within less than a week and in typical good spirits – I reference this in my eulogy below, so won’t spoil it here. So, without question, it took quite a few direct hits to eventually bring him down. He was one bloody tough cookie.

I’m not very strong on spiritual stuff, but respect all who are, and even have my own soulfully connective moments with lost loved ones and no more so than just recently with Budg’ where I have symbolically looked skywards and even spoken out loud to him. I have even heard his voice as we’ve shared a peregrine or kingfisher moment, which I know will continue to my own last breath.

Perhaps the most moving was just after I’d delivered the order of service books to the crematorium reception office the day before the funeral. The venue is situated high on a hill overlooking Poole Harbour where, having dropped off the box of printing, I found myself alone and walking along a path towards the stunning service hall. Mid-way along, I stopped and was bolted to the spot. As I looked, through floods of tears over the expansive vista, I felt an overwhelming, almost tangible presence. I could actually feel Budgie sitting next to me where I heard him say… ‘Oooohhhh, mate; just look at that view. What a perfect place for me to exit.’ I stood sobbing my heart out and answered him out loud… ‘Yes, mate. Perfect’. We both stood there for what seemed an age drinking in the peaceful tranquillity. I then turned to leave and again, out loud, said to him ‘See you tomorrow, mate’.

A month later and while doing a feature for a magazine at one of Budgie’s favourite places on the Avon; partly fishing but mainly as a tribute to Budgie, and actually using Budgie’s rod and reel, and right where we’d often sit and watch our roach spawning, I was describing to Peter (land owner) and Martin (magazine angler/journalist) how Budgie always said that if he gets the choice, he’ll come back either as an osprey (but without the Scotland bit) or buzzard, as they seem to fly for fun; just open their wings and soar… While telling them we looked up to see the rare sight of an osprey circling right overhead… It sent tingles up our spines and, as tears filled our eyes, we all said out loud… ‘Budgie’s here…’

The middle part of this tribute is a sequence of very carefully chosen symbolic and representative pictures and words with a slightly softer flavour than above… A very personal potted history of the project and Budgie and beyond.

Below the pictures are my eulogy, Caroline’s lovely poem and the transcribed sections of Budgie’s film.


It was quite mind-blowing, in the early days of the project, as the roach began using our spawning boards in preference to all natural substrate, and it was all very good sharing the images with the wider public, but the profundity of such momentous moments are made even more special when shared with someone right there with the same childish excitement and on the exact same frequency, and equally responsible for them happening. And, nobody else on earth would I have rather experienced it all with than Budgie.

We shared the mud and the mozzies as well as the glory. And mud, ice, rain or shine, Budgie was there every step of the way. This shot is of us collecting spawn at a wonderful privately owned location. It became one of our favourite places, and the owners some of our favourite people.

A very special place where we shared some very special time, sometimes just feet from spawning roach. It was an honour to experience such a connection and all through our own inventiveness, something neither of us ever took for granted or became tired of. This image made it onto the cover of our book, and was Budgie’s choice.

This was my first choice, but I was overruled and out voted – by one. Still an extraordinary picture though, and one of thousands of wonderful and precious moments, caught in time, we shared over many years.

As my garden disappeared under the Avon Roach Project, I admit to having a few moments of doubt and, thinking back, it was probably good that I didn’t share Budgie’s vision, as I wonder if I’d have bottled it if I had. That said, the more daunting and out of control it became for me, the more under control and even enjoyable it became for Budgie who never flinched and just took it in his stride. Not sure he’d have quite so readily have done if this is what he saw from his own kitchen window. 

Budgie’s vision and inventiveness extended indoors as well. Our brine shrimp hatchery – formerly known as my conservatory, was all built in Budgie’s head before instructing me on how to put it all together. With so many electric extension cables all over the place the room ended up like a snake-pit, but he said ‘it doesn’t matter to me, I’m on wheels’…

Another of Budgie’s ideas was to get a little camera with an underwater feature so we could get a better idea of the development of our tiny roach enabling the brine shrimp cultivation to commence at exactly the right time. This level of hatching and development was not visible from above.

Perfectly visible from above, as they grew, were our tiny pink bellied roach stuffed with brine shrimps… Although just a picture of a load of tiny fish to most folks, it was images and success like this that really drove us both. And nobody was more aware of the responsibility we carried for these tiny lives than Budgie. And, although in my garden, I’m glad I could share the burden.

Cross contamination was a serious issue, so we didn’t just dip into the tanks as just a drop would be enough. However, we did allow ourselves moments of indulgence of this unique situation. And, although Budgie couldn’t feel his hand, I did, from time to time, at his request, roll his sleeves up so he could experience a direct connection. 

This was one of hundreds of happy-snap underwater pictures Budgie and I would pour over for inclusion on the web site and eventually the book, as well as for us two, privately, to revel in what was a truly extraordinary experience – outwardly all grown up but privately like a couple of big kids – very special.

It’s hard to imagine the impenetrable overgrown expanse behind Budgie here would eventually become a cleared stretch of flat land holding nine stew ponds, an Avon-fed stream and a gazillion roach. To me it was another world and way beyond us – to Budgie it was just a bit of groundwork and all part of the adventure.

And this is what Budgie will have had in his head... I simply had to trust his judgement, which was easier said than done, as he was a crap communicator and just wanted to get on rather than have to explain. But he proved time and again on every level that he knew what he was doing – good job, because I didn’t… He also did the deal on the digger and driver. The digger was hired from a friend of a friend of his and the driver, who was a supporter of the project, encouraged to work for nothing as his contribution – with the promise of the return of his wife and children upon completion… Budgie loved doing a deal, and could be very persuasive.

Another of a gazillion pictures of our roach. This one of them being fed in one of these stew ponds. And again, the time we spent together here and the indulgent moments feeding and pottering were unforgettable. The poignancy of images like this is immeasurable in the context of the overall project.

And this little lot was just a fraction of what we released into the river each year and, once again, Budgie was with it every inch of the way from the first sweep of the net in the stew pond to every delivery to the river from Salisbury to Christchurch.

The feelings of triumphant satisfaction we both got from depositing thousands of our roach into the river each year never faded – outwardly steely calm but inside like jelly.

We did interrupt the flow, from time to time, to get a few shots of us with our babies; as we were, after all, potentially making history and wanted to include images of us in the documenting of it, and this was one of our fave’s. There was also an underlying urgency in us to get the fish in the river rather than take pictures, but looking back now, I’m so glad we did.

Some of these shots of us are truly soul-stirring and the look on Budgie’s face here says it all – oozing pride and fulfilment…

And then there were those in between pictures of us, like this one that just looks like us exchanging a few words once the pressure was off. So, Budgie said we have to include it on the blog and have some fun with the caption - which read…

First stocking done and then it starts… ‘One thing I ask you to do - one thing… Bring the f***ing Hobnobs: and you can’t even get that right…’

By the way, it might look like I’m carrying a few extra lockdown pounds…I’m not actually that fat in real life…

They say the camera adds at least eight pounds, and we had about four pointing at us that day.

Some of the pinpoint-timed shots were wonderful and Budgie and me had hundreds of favourites that made into our top ten, like this one…

What we did over the years in such a vast and not easily observed environment was always going to be subject to conjecture, especially to those stomping along with glasses half empty. However, our own glasses have been filled to overflowing by places like this, and many others, where we have seen the roach population increase from a few dozen to this mind-blowing lot, and beyond, which we can justifiably claim to have had a hand in.  

Such was the layout of this place; flat and accessible, we could both get really close. Budgie would get the call from one of the owners and we’d go along for a delightful summer afternoon of roach, fresh lemonade and storytelling. Most of all, us two rolling in the scent of our success. 

It was never going to be just about fish, and we got really heavily stuck in with other issues like habitat reinstatement for fry and juvenile sanctuary and, it has to be said, our impact over the years was not insignificant.

This is a shot of our first fry bay excavation. Effective within hours according to the river keeper who called to tell us. You can see in the background the same machine that dug our stew ponds. Budgie believed in striking a good working partnership with key people which he was very good at. 

The devastating impact of a ridiculous Natural England policy of removing riparian trees for the benefit of ground-nesting birds threatened the very existence of our project. These before and after pictures above are taken from the exact same spot… I’m sure you’ll agree, anyone putting in as much as we were couldn’t stand by and watch this ecological vandalism continue, so we threw our toys out of our prams, demanded meetings and had it stopped. As we say in our book ‘who in their right minds could possibly think this is a good idea?’

Not afraid to tackle even massive countrywide ecological issues, we addressed the thorny matter of avian predation and particularly the colossal increase in over-wintering numbers of the non-native European sub-species of cormorant, carbo sinensis, with a call for the woefully inadequate and contradictory licensing regime to be changed and for the birds to be placed on the general license. We organised and delivered a petition to the environment minister at the time in London and, once again, Budgie was there, front and centre. This campaign is ongoing. 

And Budgie said of this great picture ‘Even here we got photo-bombed by these two muppets. We just can’t go anywhere these days’… Seriously, we were blown away by the support.

And so, we wrote a book… Having served a life sentence in the printing trade, it meant we could produce and publish it ourselves and were extremely happy with the result, as were the many hundreds of lovely folks who bought a copy.

Despite being completely alien to Budgie, just as all the building and project construction stuff was to me, it didn’t stop him enjoying a visit with me to the printers to see the flat sheets coming off the press. He absolutely loved it.

The printers were great and did a fab job on the book. But, in true Budg’ style, when we were greeted in the factory entrance, he said to the guys ‘OK, stop staring at my stumps. Surly I’m not the only bloke you’ve printed a book for with no legs, am I?’

The book launch was quite a surreal experience. Despite being partly hampered by appalling weather and covid distancing restrictions, it was a fantastic afternoon and we shifted nearly a hundred copies.

One issue was how Budgie would sign the books, if at all. We discussed it and decided there were three options. I could either sign on his behalf, put the pen in his hand and wrap mine around it and do it that way, or do it himself with the pen in his mouth, as he does birthday cards… He said ‘We’ve done the project together from the start and we have done this book together, so I am determined to sign every copy myself in the only way I can, which is with the pen in my gob. So, if you and everyone else are prepared to be patient with me, that’s how I’d like to do it.’

For those still interested in a copy, we have about four boxes, plus what’s left in the tackle shops with Budgie signature.

We did a limited leather edition of 50, which sold out before we’d even finished binding them.

It would have been easier for me to drive over to our great mate Chris Yates with a box of books for him to sign, for those who’d asked, as he did the foreword, to save Budgie any bother but, instead, we made an afternoon of it which all three of us agreed was a very special event… We had lunch and discussed searching issues like the state of the economy, world affairs and how most effectively to target bluebottles and the postman with a blowpipe.  

Even here while we were collecting auction donations for our annual fundraiser from Chris, which we did each year, Budgie staged the publicity picture with his cheeky sense of humour.

Although, on the face of it, just an ordinary picture of me taking final instructions at one of our fundraiser doo’s, the hidden side to this is that Budgie had only been discharged from hospital that same morning, having had a stent fitted in an artery the day before, following a ‘cardiac incident’ earlier in the week… His fortitude was simply on another level. 

As the project became more successful, we were invited to give talks and presentations. Not something either of us had ever done, but we accepted and took the opportunity to spread the word and encourage others to maybe put a little back… This picture was taken half way up the country and was one of a number we did this far from home. Not as easy as you might think, as a weekend away was far from straightforward for Budgie, but he was determined to be a part of every aspect. 

We were even featured in mainstream newspapers. This one in the Times.

We were also filmed a number of times for Sky and BBC telly and while we felt honoured to be asked, when the cameras were gone and we were on our own and reflecting, we still quietly wondered what all the fuss was about. 

We often pondered and reflected, and our relative success with roach fuelled a broadening ambition which led to us launching an initiative to improve gravel spawning substrate in the river for species such as barbel by simply desilting on a critically timed and site-specific basis by manually raking, jetting with pumped water or even with possible in-stream habitat manipulation. A ‘no-brainer’ in Budgie’s words… We put it to the EA who instantly came onboard in partnership. 

We began with four locations and the difference we made with little effort was astonishing, as you can see. Not the most inspiring of pictures, but it was either this or yet another of Budgie and me… This is set to be rolled out river-wide and even, who knows, countrywide, if folks start recognising the huge value of improving where it all starts.

It seemed a natural progression as barbel are another of our favourite species and the initiative would be fast-tracked with regard consents and support through our already notable track record in matters of the river.

A group shot after the first gravel raking, which produced the contrast shown in the picture above. It was a bit touch and go getting Budgie’s van across the squelchy meadows, but we had the assurance of the land owner that if we got stuck, he’d drag us out with his 4x4, which Budgie would have loved. He always enjoyed any added jeopardy in our adventures… Here he’d just offered to help but said he’d only wade in up to his knees, which is why we are all in bits… 

In between all the serious stuff, we loved to get out fishing when we could, and enjoyed many years of days putting the world to rights and probably even talked about you… The places, the people, the fish and the fun – wonderful. And, even here, some of the Budgie antics were simply extraordinary – some daring and inventive and some as daft as it gets, and I’d happily relive every second.

Over the years, as folks got to know Budgie and appreciated his contribution to the river through the project, we experienced some truly wonderful gestures of generosity, from complimentary memberships to some amazing and generous access arrangements.

There were also, quite surprisingly, a few green-eyed, flat-earthers who insisted on flexing their little muscles and massaging their bruised little egos; any more stupid and they’d need watering every day; but this is for another day and not worth contaminating this pure reflection of a superhero. However, I did promise Budgie that I would continue the fun, as he loved rattling his cattle prod in the troglodyte hornet nest; particularly the Ringwood-based fishing club who decided to renege on a long existing arrangement with Budgie and treble, yes treble his annual membership, bringing it in line with OAP rates, despite him only being able to access an infinitesimal percentage of the fishing and despite, most sensible folks in the real world agreeing, having directly added value to the club membership through his work with the roach project. This resulted in him sadly having to let his membership go. He was notified in a letter, which also boasted of the club not having any specific disabled access to their waters. In later correspondence the club said they support the project but not the people.

Anyway, the picture above was a world away from this laughable ‘dark side’ and made possible because of some of these generous gestures of being given access to a private estate bridge, the riverside path being levelled and widened in places by generous folks and a special set of portable ramps being constructed for Budgie to get across the bridge you can see in the background to a stretch of river probably never before visited by someone in a wheelchair.

Defiant and as tough as they get… 60 not out.

He needed no excuse...

This intentional misspelling of ‘Lost Count’ with the removal of one letter, was on an earlier birthday cake, and described as ‘the picture you can never unsee’ when shown as part of the montage sequence of his life at his funeral. 

A very proud granddad, with tiny granddaughter Isla.

What a wonderful moment in time. The apple of his eye, laughing with her granddad. 

The Prop Forward at full pelt long before the ‘reset’ button was hit… Despite the unimaginable changes to Budgie’s life, he remained philosophical and stoical, as well as shocking and mischievously daft.  

I was happy to help out with the printing of the order of service, which was done for nothing by the guys who printed our book, and I was really chuffed to have loads of my illustrations used throughout. It was also lovely to hear that Budgie’s wife Rose and daughter Georgie have had tattoos of the little kingfisher. I was also particularly moved to be asked to do a short eulogy at the funeral. Really tough, and I almost made it to the end without spluttering. You can read this below. 


Trev’s Eulogy.

It’s a huge honour to be asked to say a few words here today –

First thing I thought was I wonder what Budgie would like me to say – then heard his voice in my head… ‘Mate – try not to trip over anything… and don’t just bang on about the Roach Project. But, do try and flog ‘em all a book, if you can keep their attention long enough – if you can’t, then just pretend to get all choked up and make a run for it…’

So, here goes… Budgie Price – ABSOLUTE LEGEND…

Budgie had an infectious charm, as we all know, and fully earned the right to his uniquely irreverent, sometimes tangled, outlook.

And while there’s enough stories for another book, I’d like to share just a few of our typical Budgie adventures, illustrating his unique character, if I may. …When the grown-ups weren’t looking.

Unquestionably, the most outstanding is, of course, the astonishing success of the award-winning and ground-breaking Avon Roach Project, which was a huge part of our lives for over 15 years.

The sheer scale and lunacy of the original concept lent itself to being dismissed before it had even started. But Budgie doesn’t do dismissed, clear from the moment he was told, following his accident, to accept his limitations, which roughly translated in Budgie’s head as ‘tell him it can’t be done and he’ll show you just how it can…’

I was for the main part ‘voice activated’ which was OK but did come with its drawbacks, particularly as Budgie had an infuriating way of instructing me, which would later actually become profoundly soul-stirring... He would literally operate me; and was infuriating, until I realised he was actually doing it all himself but with my hands, evident from every push on a saw or hit of a hammer being matched with movement of his own hands. Once I realised, it was quite overwhelming, and I never argued again.

Seeing Budgie as just sitting and watching was so far from reality… And in the case of the Avon Roach Project, it has been hard to get people to see beyond the lies their eyes were telling them… And was always something Budgie was far better at dealing with than me. And I stand by what I have always said… The Avon Roach Project would far more likely have succeeded without me than Budgie.

He was acutely aware of the passing of possibly limited time so was always keen to get on and conquer, which, of course, he did, but with an endearing mischievous humility – often, I’m lucky to say, with me.

Somebody summed him up perfectly recently by describing him as always having a twinkle in his eye - which is so, so true... As well as an extraordinary determination, there was devilment in him. Which I was often on the receiving end of…

This was evident one day when we were fishing and discussing the construction of filter vessels for our roach tanks. On the way home, he got me to drive slowly through a village where he revealed his thoughts… ‘Them’s what we need, mate…’ pointing to people’s glass recycling boxes. ‘We need to nick about a dozen and fix pipes and pumps. They’ll be perfect for what we want.’ I said I wasn’t really comfortable with pinching stuff and besides they have Downton Council printed all over them. He said ‘We can just sand that off. And anyway, nobody will think to look for them in Ringwood, especially in your back garden… And, I have thought about it… even if we do get caught, nobody will think it’s the idea of the boy in the wheelchair, so it’s you that’ll get carted off to be raped and buggered in jail; which, is a small price I think I’m prepared to pay…’ He was, of course, joking and just giving me an idea of what he’d probably already built in his head.

In the real world, wheelchair protocol was handled according to circumstances and usually with tolerance and humour and I only ever once saw Budgie react angrily… It was in hospital where tensions were high anyway as he’d been blue-lighted there five days before one of our annual fundraiser doo’s – which he did make in the end, by the way.

It happened when a health care assistant asked me, we assume because she’d seen the wheelchair beside the bed… ‘Would your friend like a cup of tea or coffee?’ I gestured with eyes and a nod towards Budgie to suggest she should be asking him… Then, undoubtedly because of the heightened tension, a spark hit Budgie’s powder keg and he went off… ‘Excuse me, I might be disabled but I’m not bloody stupid. I’m right here, and if you want to know if I want a drink, then bloody well ask me. I’m perfectly capable of talking for myself. And no, I don’t want a drink thank you very much.’

She looked at me and smiled and said ‘I’m really sorry but I’m deaf - and I have to lip-read - and because your friend is laying down, I can’t see his mouth clearly enough to see what he said. He can have a cold drink if he’d rather…’ I smiled back and said – ‘He says he’s fine, but said thank you very much for asking…’

Last one… and it’s my take on his legs and another example of normal… In Budgie land…

To anyone else double leg amputation would be monumental; to Budgie it was an inconvenience with a positive payoff, he said, if he didn’t die from the anaesthetic.

So, on the day of the op’, not expecting to hear for a week, I paced and worried and thought of nothing else – then, while trying to anaesthetise myself with lager, at about 9-30pm, the phone rang… It was a cheery Budgie saying – ‘Hello mate. Just letting you know it’s all done… Legs off and sorted and I’m now three stone lighter…’ And to the question ‘How you feeling?’ he answered ‘Erm, fuckin’ starving as it goes – Oh, and I might be home Friday, so why not come over for coffee on Saturday and I’ll show you me stumps?’

Now, I can be a bit sensitive when it comes to Budg’, so after sobbing my heart out for the first ten minutes of seeing him; he said…

… ‘Right, I’m having prosthetics, which means I’ll be able to wear shoes, which’ll please Rose. Already know the shoes I’m having - Georgie’s getting me a pair for Xmas, and I might even be able to have roach printed on the sides of them, which won’t please Rose. And, what I reckon is size 9’s - I don’t want big flippers like yours. I want dark hairy ones like an Italian footballer, and with gaps between the big toe and the others so I can wear flip-flops in the summer… What do you reckon?’

I couldn’t believe I’d just sobbed my heart out… What a legend; and typical of how Budgie dealt with the world.

I’d like to finish, if I may, with a few personal thoughts… This could get messy…

Budgie battled more adversity than any ordinary human could stand in a lifetime but just got on and conquered. He always found a way and was astonishingly creative - testament to which is the Avon Roach Project. Nobody who met or knew him could fail to be enriched by the experience. He was truly inspirational… A force of nature - as well as being a right pain in the arse sometimes.

We had our moments, like all close friends, but Budgie was simply the greatest person I have ever had the privilege to know; made even more special by being able to call him my best mate. We shared a connection few will experience - an empathy beyond words.

I loved him… He was my hero… And I told him so, even again in his last hours. Some of the most poignant and moving moments of my entire existence, which I will cherish forever.

So, I end with the words I started with – Budgie Price… Absolute Legend…

I promise to continue what we started – and I promise I won’t let you down.          

May peace be with you now my friend… The bestest best mate in the whole wide world - my soulmate and superhero… Loved and Remembered today – every day – and for always…

And I know I speak for us all here today when I say… Budgie Price, I am so glad you happened to me………


An Ode to Budgie… by Caroline Diment

This is a poem for Budgie - I call him my old mucker

Sometimes he is my hero - Sometimes a cheeky fucker

He had an awful car crash - He came in just after me

So covered with equipment - It was all that I could see

He was quite unresponsive - I’d shout Hi in my best voice

He had to wake up in the end - He didn’t have much choice

His lovely wife called Rose - Who was never far away

To love and to support him   - Nearly every single day

They had two lovely kids - Mickey four and Georgie two

They were so very tiny - They helped us pull him through

He had so many visitors - You could barely see his bed

I invited all the hunky ones - To come see me instead

He led me into mischief - And kept me up late chatting

So when I went to physio - I just slept on the matting

He was an early riser - He loved to chat and sing

All the nurses loved him - Took him under their wing

Everyone was lovely - It was the best time ever

When you go through tragedy - It helps when you bond together

He had a friend called Dawn - Who was a total star

She went on to have two babies - She even drives a car

And then came Martin Savage - What a brilliant guy

We had a special field - To smoke the drugs he’d buy

There was a lad, Paul Patten - His twin sat in his chair

When his brother stood up - The nurse could only stare

We were all assigned a primary - Our one and only nurse

His was Janet G******t - It couldn’t get much worse

She was very indiscrete - She couldn’t give a hoot

Budgie was the first one - To give his nurse the boot

Now we’re both much older - His kids are fully grown

They’ve fled the feathered nest - Found partners of their own

He’s achieved amazing things - Filled the rivers full of roach

He’s eloquent and knowledgeable - No subject he can’t broach

Budgie is a bloody miracle - Cheated death in many ways

Even had his legs off - Then home again in days

Budgie and Rose have a grandchild - She’s a perfect poppet

But time keeps passing by - There is no way to stop it

We’ve lost some valued friends - I love him like no other

His importance is immeasurable - Like a sarcastic older brother

I’m not really very talented - It’s the best poem I could write

So, I’m pretty sure he’ll tell me - That it’s absolutely shite


The Kubler-Ross change curve

A few years ago, Budgie made a little tongue-in-cheek film, which was aired at the funeral, about the ‘Kubler-Ross change curve’… the five emotions experienced by those facing or who have narrowly escaped death – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

It was a typically light-hearted personal and very dark-humoured reflection and opened with Budgie saying to the camera with a deadpan straight face ‘There’s nothing quite like the surprise of hitting a windscreen at 40mph. Well, that’s what happened to me’… Budgie always had a knack of grabbing your attention. He then goes on to his ‘Kubler-Ross’ reaction of denial… ‘I awoke from my coma in Salisbury Hospital Spinal Unit and realised I couldn’t feel anything from my armpits down, whereupon I was told’… ‘You’ve suffered a spinal cord injury that will affect the rest of your life. You’ve broken your neck and will never walk again’… To which he replied - ‘Well, you can stick your doctorates right up your arse. I’m a rugby player; a prop forward. And, I haven’t even got a neck. And, besides, I had my appendix out and was back at work in a fortnight’… Fast forward to the acceptance bit of his film and in typical Budgie fashion, he lists the things he would no longer be able to do… ‘Picking my nose, because I can’t straighten my finger; pulling a wedgie out cos I’d be sitting on my arse all day and keepy-uppy will be a thing of the past…’

He finishes very profoundly, which is also typical of Budg’… ‘When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change. At such a moment, there is no point pretending that nothing has happened or saying that we’re not yet ready. The change will not wait. Life doesn’t look back and we have no choice but to accept our destiny’…

We can’t change the beginning, but we can start from now to influence our own destiny, and sometimes we’ll have to start again, like Budgie did. So, while Budgie’s passing is perhaps another beginning for us; there is no question that the legacy left by this extraordinary man will enrich the lives and destinies of generations to come.

Budgie was a ‘Prop Forward’ not only in rugby, but also in life…

From a personal perspective, I can let him go knowing I have nothing I wish I’d said and nothing more I wish we’d done. That said, I do wish he could have enjoyed the glory of the Avon Roach Project for longer than he did… We achieved so much and had fantastic fun along the way through an extraordinary connection and empathy few will ever experience. So this, my full-blown, unapologetic tribute has been for what I genuinely consider a true legend.

And so, finally, to my bestest best mate in the whole wide world, one of the most outstanding individuals I have ever encountered, I say…

‘See you tomorrow, mate…’