When Rick Abbott knew he had only weeks left before he died from cancer, he crossed the street to give his tent to his young neighbor and told him: “Max, I want you to promise me you will have an adventure in it.” Max Woosey, ten, promised his friend he would. Since Mr Abbott’s death in February, the Cub Scout has spent more than 200 nights sleeping in his back garden, raising more than $50,000 for the hospice that helped Mr Abbott, 74, to die with dignity at home.
He initially camped out for one frosty night in March, then another, then a friend suggested he set up a JustGiving campaign which has now received thousands of donations. Max, from Braunton in North Devon, plans to keep going until he has slept in the tent in the garden for a year in his effort to help North Devon Hospice.
He said that the best part of bedding down outside was escaping his parents and getting to read the Beano for as long as he wanted. “It’s exhausting but great fun,” he said. “I love it, you can do anything you want. I read the Beano for ages, play with my teddies, sleep and sometimes I sneak a bit of food in.” He said the worst bits had been finding an ants’ nest underneath the tent and “sometimes getting a bit freaked out when it’s stormy weather”.
His mother, Rachael, 48, an accountant, and father, Mark, 52, a major in the Royal Marines, were skeptical at first about letting their son sleep out in the cold on March 28. They have had to get used to walking out into the wet and windy weather to wish Max “good night” before zipping him in until morning.
The family moved in opposite Mr Abbott and his wife, Sue, six years ago. The Abbotts, who had no children themselves, enjoyed adventurous holidays and spending time in the countryside that surrounded them. “They were just an incredible couple,” Mrs Woosey said. “They would go off cross-country skiing for eight weeks and Rick was in the water every day paddleboarding. Just days before Sue was diagnosed with brain cancer she had been on a climbing holiday with friends.” Mrs Abbott, 70, died in 2017 and the hospice helped to care for her in her final weeks.
Mr Abbott was being treated for cancer at the same time and following the loss of his wife his neighbors rallied round. A group of eight sought hospice support to help him fulfill his desire to die at home. “When it became apparent he was becoming quite ill we spent a lot of time with him,” Mrs Woosey said. She said that Rick had bonded with Max over tales of his adventures and their shared love of camping. “When you haven’t had children it’s a way in with a ten-year-old,” she said. “Max loved hearing the stories and Rick was fun, he had a climbing wall in his garage. We don’t have grandparents that live near us so it was nice to have someone to chat to from an older generation.”
“Max knew Rick was going to die and so we had to have those conversations. It’s almost something special about someone choosing to spend their last weeks with you.” Around Christmastime last year Mr Abbott told Max he wanted to give him his tent and made him promise to have an adventure in it. “I don’t think in his wildest dreams he would have realized the adventure would be everyone being locked in their houses and Max spending a year in his back garden, but he would have found that hilarious,” Mrs Woosey said. She admits that she has wanted to “burn the tent down” at times but can see why her son is pushing forward with his challenge. “We have said we will embrace his decision to do it for a year but I think I will put my foot down and bring him in after that,” she said. “He is feeling that he, as an individual, is able to do something which isn’t measured in Sats results or in an English exam and he has done something on his own that has made a difference.”
Max said he was honored and proud that his friend had given him the tent and he spent the first 100 days of his challenge sleeping in it before he changed tents to preserve the gift he had been given. “I don’t want to break it because I want to be able to go somewhere with it,” Max said. “Since he gave it to me it’s the last memory I have got of him.”
When an air leak brewed up potential trouble for the International Space Station, Russian crew members came up with an unconventional solution. Frustrated by a small drop in the air pressure that had persisted since August, for which the cause could not be found, Anatoly Ivanishin raided the galley for a solution. “We believe that we have really identified the probable leakage area. We have distributed a tea bag,” he announced to ground controllers.
The mystery had confounded the Russian and US space agencies despite data trawls and physical searches of the 354-foot long space station. Last Wednesday, shortly before the scheduled arrival of three new crewmates — two Russians and an American — Mr Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner released the tea bag inside the entry chamber leading to the Russian segment of the space station, the Zvezda module, then sealed the area off.
Using video and still cameras to monitor the tea bag’s path as it floated in microgravity, directed by the airflow, they found a fracture in a metallic surface. The crew placed a temporary seal over the crack using polyurethane foam and duct tape, reducing the leak until a permanent repair is completed. The control unit of a science experiment on board the space station also had to be switched off after it started emitting smoke and an oxygen generator broke down.
About 350 miles above the space station, at an altitude of 616 miles, two large items of space junk came close to a catastrophic collision early yesterday. A defunct Russian satellite and a segment from an old Chinese rocket passed each other safely at a relative velocity of 32,900mph, radar data showed. “Bullet dodged,” reported Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.