Welcome to The Clearing for a special "Legacy: Life Reflections" episode, Sara Starkey.
Sara Starkey is a curious character, who has without doubt lived a truly extraordinary life. Her father was killed in World War 2 before she was born. She accompanied her second husband to Dignitas to end his own life with dignity.
Sara’s mother was Scottish, her father Johnny Pennant was Welsh. World war 2 was surely coming to an end when Johnny was killed - just weeks before Sara was born and only days before his own 24th birthday. Sara spent the first year of her life in Wales in the cosy care of her grieving and adoring grandparents, who were both doctors. Then her mother returned with a new husband called Zed and took her to Africa, where three more sisters were born. Life for Sara was nomadic, neurotic and nervous.
By the age of 10, she had lived in three different continents including America. Sara also went for a time to a Roman Catholic boarding school - but was still unable to read or write! When Zed’s work took him abroad, as it frequently did, Sara’s mother would go with him and leave her children in the care of friends, in loco parentis. Different people, with rules! Sara found it all more than a bit bewildering.
Her first 20 years were definitely not the happiest days of Sara’s life. She was timid and fearful. She lacked confidence. Getting married and then having her son, Davy, gave Sara a new and more independent role, even though, to this day, she still sees herself as ‘cowardly’.
Sara believes that her second husband Andrew saved Davy’s life when the local Teaching Hospital chose to delay operating for appendicitis as they questioned the GP’s diagnosis. Sara is inspired by people like Andrew who stand up and speak up, people like Peter Tatchell, Benny Rothman, Harried Tubman and Margaret Mead.
The so-called ‘coward’ Sara now exudes apparent confidence speaking truth to power as a campaigner for Animal Rights on the street or on the radio, as a weekly volunteer in an Animal Sanctuary, as a Vegan as a regular rescuer, with 40 years’ experience. 5 years ago, she accompanied her second husband, Andrew, to end his life with Dignitas in Switzerland. On her return without him, Sara published his memoirs entitled ‘My life as an animal’ as a paperback, available from Animal Aid and now also on Kindle, as well as an Audiobook on Audible.
In both cases, Sara has included her own experience taking Andrew to Switzerland, coming back without him and now curating an Andrew Tyler page on Facebook. Sara takes her dogs for an inspirational walk in the woods on a daily basis. Sara is a dedicated gardener - it helps her ‘decompress’.
She is enthusiastic about both the style and the content of ‘My life as an animal’ and lives by Andrew’s key question on a daily basis: “Why be cruel when you can be kind?” Please listen - you will learn something!