The Brooke Connection Continues
Sarawak & the Brooke Heritage Trust
Anthony Brooke passed away on March 2nd, 2011 at the age of 98. In 2010 Anthony's grandson, Jason Brooke, visited his grandfather in Wanganui, New Zealand. Jason is Honorary Secretary of the Brooke Family Trust and closely involved with the Trust's proposal to establish a Brooke Heritage Museum in Sarawak.He wrote the following piece in February 2011.
In April of 2010 I met my grandfather for the first time. At least it was the first time that I was old enough to appreciate just what it was to be in the presence of Anthony Brooke.
An old man now, in his 98th year, my grandfather greeted me at Rumah Brooke with a firm squeeze of my hand and a heartfelt welcome from moistened eyes. There was nothing intimidating nor imposing about Anthony, yet his presence was a powerful force to enter into. And it was enough just to be in his presence. Had he said nothing for a week, but sat there beside me, his eyes closed and dreaming, it would have been enough just to experience it, yet I quickly became aware that while his body had taken the bruisings of the years, and his tired old frame was a burden on him, his soul was as clear and as bright as ever. His words when he spoke carried great profundity for me. Words of Sarawak, whispers of memories that sought to escape him, but which he held, deep in the recesses of his mind, as though holding them there just for this time.
Gratitude, appreciation, these words are weak descriptors for how it felt to be there, to hear him speak, to connect not only with him, with his life, but with all the lives he touched upon, with the history of a nation with which his life was so deeply and irrevocably entwined. Leaving him in May was more difficult than I could ever have imagined, but I left him knowing that the time was right, that he was in good hands, that being there, even for a short time, was important to both of us.
While visiting Anthony and Gita in New Zealand I had the opportunity to present our Brooke Trust project to both the Daybreaker and Wanganui Rotaries, where I spoke at length about the history of the Brookes and Sarawak, and of our belief in the importance of preserving what was unique about that relationship. To this end our Trust has undertaken a number of projects in support of preserving the Brooke Sarawak heritage, details of which can be found at our new website www.brooketrust.org.
I would invite all with an interest to get involved, to send in images, documents, memories, to participate in our online discussion group, and to contact the Trust should you have any questions whatsoever.
To be a member of this family, to be connected to Sarawak, is a privilege, and I feel honoured to share in its long history.
Honorary Secretary, The Brooke Heritage Trust
78 York Street