Joshua passed away unexpectedly on 30 August 2012 in his sleep at the age of 27. The autopsy findings suggested he died of sudden adult death syndrome (SADS) as there was no evidence of any other cause, though he had suffered from chest pains when exercising for which doctors could find no reason.
Joshua joined MCS as a ‘spare’ for the Choir before joining it permanently a little later and remained in the school once his voice had broken, going on to Cambridge University afterwards. After a successful university career he went into the city, but then in 2010 he was awarded a McMahon Law Studentship by St John’s College, Cambridge, to permit him to undertake his law conversion studies at City University Law School, where he was studying for the LLB degree. Early in 2012 he had been accepted as a student member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, which had awarded him a Hardwicke Entrance Scholarship to study for the bar.
These are extracts from Joshua’s father David’s tribute in Magdalen Chapel:
Joshua’s life had distinct phases. Excellent schooling from the marvellous staff of Magdalen College School, a rich introduction to English choral music in the chapel choir here with Bill Ives, and an extraordinary school trip to Nepal, were followed by a round-the-world gap year trip with a close friend.
He then went to St John’s College in Cambridge to read Economics – something that took us all by surprise, seeing that his A-Levels were in English, Biology, History, Mathematics and Politics! There he made new friends.
After this, he took a job with JP Morgan in the City of London, which gave him a taste of the world of finance. But, being a new recruit, he became an early casualty of the banking collapse. This knocked his confidence, even after we explained to him the difference between being sacked and being made redundant. While living at home and trying to find a different direction for his life, he made a new set of friends among those studying here at Oxford.
Still unsure what he really wanted to do in the long term, but inspired by his cousin Sophie, who is a criminal law barrister, he then moved back to London to embark on a legal career, obtaining a commendation in his law conversion course exams in June of this year, and being accepted by Lincoln’s Inn to train as a barrister.
Again, he made further dear friends during this, sadly the last period of his short life. At each stage, he managed to maintain his friendships from earlier times, as this full chapel bears testimony. As a parent, you never really see your children as others see them… a few thoughts that others have shared with us in recent days:
‘He was a happy, honest and passionate individual, who brought laughter, debate, sensitivity, gentleness and deep affection.’
‘Regardless of the setting, the company, or my mood, I always felt comfortable around him.’
‘He had that amazing capacity to make everyone around him feel warm inside – to make everyone who knew him love him.’
‘There were loads of good times with Josh, mostly because everything was just easier with him around, because Josh made other people instinctively try to be funnier, happier, better people.’
It is now clear that Josh’s particular talent or vocation was not in history, or banking, or the law, or politics, but in living, in friendship and in changing people’s lives for the better. While as an adult Josh felt no particular affinity for organized religion, he maintained a deep inner conviction that God had made him as he was, and that God loved him. In a letter he wrote to the poet Tom Paulin, he concluded: ‘Art is all about the expression of what makes us human, according to the capabilities each one of us has been given by Almighty God. The reference to God may surprise you, given the subject matter of the story, but I nevertheless maintain all faith in God, however he has made me.’
Josh was a wonderful person, a faithful friend and a loving son. He did not hold grudges, but was deeply forgiving. We will all miss him sorely. Yet a short live is not a wasted life, despite our sadness at the enormous un-realized potential that Josh had. He has touched all of us, and made us better people. His life was worth while. When asked what Josh wanted to do in life, he said ‘To make a difference’. I am sure that, now, Josh wants us to look forward, to live our lives in hope and joy, and ‘to make a difference’ ourselves.