Over the Hills and Far Away

Robert Togden 1996 – 2013
Today we remember a dear friend and supporter of the Drala Jong appeal, Robert Togden.  Robert passed away last week, aged 17, having succumbed to a particularly aggressive form of cancer.  Often those suffering from cancer are described as ‘battling’ it.  The term ‘battle’ does not describe Robert as we experienced him.  He was never embattled, embittered, in conflict or in combat.  Our every experience of spending time with Robert throughout this last period of his life has been one of a young man who was profoundly appreciative – of his family and loved ones; of his friends, acquaintances, and distant well wishers; of the experiences and opportunities which his life afforded him.  If there was a battle, then he won it, for he met every moment with a spirit of openness, kindness and good cheer, and by retaining an air of natural dignity in the face of all that life threw at him he surely won the most profound of victories.
He met Kyabje Kunzang Dorje Rinpoche and Jomo Samphel on a number of pilgrimages to the east, and was generous to the last in his support of the Drala Jong appeal.  We will remember Robert at this weekend’s commemorations.  We will remember him once Drala Jong is established, and we gather together to practice tsog and celebration there for the first time.  We will remember his kindness and generosity of spirit always.
Robert very much enjoyed the Sharpe books and television series.  We will remember him when we sit to follow Sharpe’s exploits in the future, and listen to the theme music to the series, adapted by John Tams, whose origins lie in 17th Century England.  
We hope to meet him again one day, over the hills and far away.
Here’s forty shillings on the drum
For those who volunteer to come,
To ‘list and fight the foe today
Over the Hills and far away
O’er the hills and o’er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
King George commands and we obey
Over the hills and far away
When duty calls me I must go
To stand and face another foe
But part of me will always stray
Over the hills and far away
If I should fall to rise no more
As many comrades did before
Then ask the fifes and drums to play
Over the hills and far away
Then fall in lads behind the drum
With colours blazing like the sun
Along the road to come what may
Over the hills and far away