To help cope with grief, some people try to keep busy. Robert didn’t really have a choice. With no insurance to fall back on when his wife passed away, Robert needed to return to work quickly, and in the decades that followed he threw himself into his work and his family.
Professionally, Robert continued to advance, reaching senior teaching positions in everything from computer technology to business to maths. And while teaching has been enormously satisfying for Robert, he felt a pull of another direction as the years moved on. Then a few years ago an opportunity came along that he couldn’t ignore.
“My parents' house in Christchurch came up for sale, so I bought it with a bank loan and began to convert it into a kind of children’s playground. I had a vision for the place as an outreach for children.” With that, Robert began work on a project that could be both a tribute to his late wife and a way to help children and young people in the community.
Robert knew through his 30+ years of teaching - and his own family’s experience with grief - that children and young adults sometimes find it hard to process their experiences, and can end up carrying a lot through their early years. So the idea was to create an environment where young people and children can create new and enriching experiences together. An experience where they felt essential, important, and valued. This collaborative effort morphed into “The Fabulous Flying Fox Studios” - a YouTube channel dedicated to creating content for children under 8. It’s all done from Robert’s property in Spreydon, Christchurch, and channels the passion and creative energy of young people in the community into hosting events for children and creating videos for them that can be shared on the channel.
“We are building slowly. And we’re all learning. It’s very much about supporting these young people to do what they do, and then talking about what they come up with. I’m hoping in some way shape or form, with the young people involved, it can touch kid’s lives through the medium. Even their friends and family - you never can tell.”
When Robert needed help to fund more work to the property, he initially approached his bank, but they decided to step back. And while he could have waited for another year or so before applying with them again, he didn’t want to stop progress. So, he decided to apply online with Harmoney, and had an approved loan the next day. With that, he could get on with work he felt couldn’t wait. “There are times when I feel that older people like myself have to step up and say to younger people who may be hurting or may be damaged - that we’ll walk through it together.
As The Fabulous Flying Fox Studios gains momentum, Robert is as committed as ever. “I’m not going away. This is it for me. It’s about repaying the universe and the people who have helped me along the way.”
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Find out more about The Fabulous Flying Fox Studios.