Jared James Edwin Pritchard
(2nd October 1985 – 1st December 2010)
It is with great sadness that New College has said farewell to a wonderful collegian and a very dear friend. Jared James Edwin Pritchard died early on the morning of the 1st December, 2010 aged 25. Jared was a New Collegian from 2006 until 2009. He was a determined, caring, fun-loving and well-loved young man. Jared’s musical talent and digital media creations were of a quality well beyond his years. He was half way through an Honours program, studying a Bachelor of Digital Media at The College of Fine Arts, UNSW, when he suffered a major stroke at College in July 2009 resulting from an Arterio-Venous Malformation (AVM). For almost 18 months, Jared battled the effects of the stroke. In this time he was hospitalized at The Prince of Wales Hospital and later at Frenchmans Lodge. Although Jared showed signs of improvement he also suffered many setbacks while hospitalized and his condition gradually deteriorated. Nevertheless, his death was not anticipated and came as a shock to everyone.
The depth of affection New Collegians held for Jared was demonstrated last year by the massive efforts of the J-Rock benefit concert and the J-Ride from Sydney to Canberra, both organized to contribute to the cost of his operation and hospital care. The efforts of many led to $75,000 being raised. Jared was an incredibly talented young man, who gave generously of himself to many. Even in the midst of his own illness he always found time to ask about any visitor’s life and needs. We will all miss Jared a great deal. Jared’s funeral was an opportunity for family and friends to grieve but also remember and celebrate with thankfulness the impact that he has had on many lives. It was held at St James King Street Anglican Church at 2:30pm Thursday, 9th December 2010. Nearly five hundred people attended the funeral including a large contingent of New Collegians and alumni of New College. This was followed by a gathering of family, collegians, staff and friends back at New College. The following is a tribute to Jared.
In February 2006, 200 odd New Collegians – some more odd than others – gathered in the courtyard in front of a large screen fashioned from an old bedsheet. They watched a movie of an incredibly talented young man. He was what many of them wanted to be. Determined, witty, an extraordinary dancer, a gifted musician, fun-loving and well-loved. He seemed to know where he was going in life with everything he needed to get there. But as the movie continued, collegians watched with both despair and awe to see this young man, Jared, suffer and fight with all his might against the effects of his first and second strokes. The movie ended, and as one person, the crowd rose to their feet; most crying, all applauding. This was how New College met Jared.
We soon discovered Jared’s quirky side. You would usually know when Jared was coming your way. He would howl in tune with the high pitched horn on his electric wheel chair, flying through hallways, bumping into doorways and knocking over clothes racks before firmly placing himself as far into your room as his chair would allow. Then as if it were a surprise to see you he would give you a hug or handshake and say, “Hello, how are you?” But it was never a tokenistic “How are you?” because if you didn’t respond he would ask you again.
Jared was very generous with his time. He made a concerted effort to get to know each batch of College freshers, helping to make them a welcome part of his home, even though, secretly, he feared meeting so many new people and being misunderstood. Jared was constantly stepping outside his comfort zone: skydiving with the boys, walking along the beach assisted by friends then crawling into the ocean and almost drowning while you thought he was safely lying on the beach, dancing wheelchair-style, and getting around all kinds of obstacles to attend college social events.
Jared lived on the 4th floor at New College. The damage he caused to the lift on multiple occasions bears testament to this. But one night, after college supper on his way back to his room the lift was full. To the utter amazement of many, Jared walked himself, unassisted up five long flights of stairs to the top. Jared wasn’t afraid to ask for help when he needed it but he loved proving to others and himself that he was capable in ways that no one could expect.
Jared wasn’t soft but he did have a soft spot for food. If you ever offered to help get his meal, he would reply, “Well would you? Really? I’ll have a tuner, egg and BBQ sauce sandwich.” He would demolish this in two bites. It was a bad habit that he never broke. I haven’t told Julie this until now, but when I was visiting Jared while he was in Rehab earlier this year, I arrived to find him choking. He was in a room on his own and the nurses could not hear him. It was one of those situations where you want to run for help but don’t know if you have time. So I raised him up in bed hoping gravity would do its work and after several heaves, half a sandwich launched back up and into his hand. Jared started moaning, “O no, O no…Ooo noooo. What a waste of food! I seriously thought I was going to die that time Jonny.”
Jared was a stirrer. He knew how to absolutely drive his friends and family up the wall but it was impossible to stay infuriated by him for long because he was so fun and generous. Time trials around the 4th floor balcony in his wheelchair, movies in his room at college, Bubble Tea, drinks and a steak at the Reg - Jared could get on with almost anyone and his spontaneity ensured you could never second guess what shenanigans might be in store. But there were things Jared didn’t like. He didn’t like being talked down to, he didn’t like being in a room and not part of the conversation and he detested shoddy workmanship when it came to music and digital media. Jared was a perfectionist: a fine musician and a sound engineer of a quality well beyond his years. In a recording session he would be honest if you made a mistake, encouraging if you performed well, and astonishingly patient.
In recent years, frustration played a huge part in Jared’s life. I do not know, but for the grace of God, how he kept his bizarre sense of humour, particularly over the last 17 months. When Jared would pray, he wouldn’t just pray for himself. He prayed for his college friends, for the people who visited him and most of all, he prayed for his family, who he loved so much.
It was July 2009, and 200 odd New Collegians – some more odd than others – gathered in the dining room in front of a large screen. We watched a movie of a dear friend who had just suffered his third stroke. We loved this young man. He had worked his way into our hearts. By his determination to be all he could be, he had inspired many of us to be all we could be. We knew that, inadvertently, he had probably been one of the most unifying people to ever live at New College. Somehow, he had caused us to come together. Jared’s courage and love for us through suffering caused us to love, recognise, and need each other more. He showed us how to live, how to fight, how to enjoy, how to hope and how to grip the hand of God.
The terrors of the night shall no more mar your dreams or waking thoughts.
You have naught to fear, now dance my friend and sing before the throne of God.
This tribute was written by some of Jared’s close friends and read by Jonathan Billingham at the funeral.
A montage of Jared Pritchard's creative life can be found on YouTube. To see the video go to: www.youtube.com/watch