Dad’s Eulogy, and John’s Tribute


So many of you have asked, so here is the eulogy I read yesterday. Thankyou for asking xx You are all so kind xx
(ps the gaps, punctuation, peculiar spellings and large spaces are all intentional – they really helped me to read it slowly without gabbling)
Dad’s Eulogy
Hello everyone, Mum, Will and I would like to thank you for your kind words and messages, and for joining us here today, especially as this beautiful old church holds so many HAPPY memories for our family.
I know Dad would be very pleased to see you all here, and in keeping with his dry sense of humour, I am sure he would be hoping that you will all spend the rest of your day doing something infinitely more amusing
…and on that note we’d love to see you all at the Richard Onslow pub, after the service.
Dad, was born to Evelyn and Archie, on 23rd November 1940, a year in to the war. They lived in Woking, in a smart Victorian house, very near the main station, and he had vivid memories of hiding under the kitchen table as the bombs dropped.
The house was so shaken, it needed underpinning – but that sturdy oak table with the barley twist legs, kept them safe.
Five years later, as the war ended, his brother, Richard arrived, and as a family they enjoyed fabulous Summer holidays at the very fashionable, Butlins, and had great fun, the four of them together.
TRAJ ED EE struck in the Summer of 1957, Dad was 16 by now, and Richard was 12. We feel that this story needs telling, as what happened next shaped them as a family, from that fateful day, onwards.
Richard and his best friend Stephen, unbeknown to anyone, had found an object (no one knows where they found it) which they took back to the shed, where they decided to hammer it to see what was inside. No one was home and the boys must have been quite pleased with their mysterious find. Unfortunately, the thing they had found, was an unexploded mortar bomb, and tragically, those two young lives were lost that day.
I can’t even imagine how terrible it must have been, but that inquisitive young boy left a gaping hole in our family, then, and now. We still miss Richard and who he might have been, and I know Dad missed him terribly. And I hope that by telling you all, about him, we can honour him, too.
Dad was quite a scoundrel as he grew up – he used to regale with great hilarity, how their neighbour had a small orchard full of delicious apples, but would ban them from scrumping, so Dad and his mates used to shimmy up and over the wall, drop down in to his garden, and take great bites out of the apples while they were on the tree, absolutely delighting at the idea of the grumpy neighbour finding apple cores hanging from his trees. He would chuckle as recalled, -Mr Thompson told us not to pick them, and strictly speaking, we didn’t!
Then there was the incident of the common being accidentally set on fire, and Dad, who made sure he was always back in time for tea, promised his mum that it was nothing to do with him, but he seemed to know far too much about it, and couldn’t explain the soot on his clothes, and years later, had quite the twinkle in his eye when he told us just how many fire engines there were.
Dad and his friend Keith, cultivated an interest in things that go, and for the princely sum of £8 they bought a 1932 Morris Miner, untaxed and uninsured, they hid it in a car park and learned to drive it – it was one of the old ones with the accelerator pedal in the middle. Proper petrol heads, back in the day. One of the maintenance men they knew, had an old Morgan and he let them zoom round in it, on an old race track. And Dad’s pride and joy was a 1920s Royal Enfield Motorbike.
After he left Woking Grammar School, Dad worked for Woking Council, in the Engineers and Surveyors Office. There were around 6 trainees in the office, this is where he met Ian, who told me some hilarious tales of their escapades. They really tickled me, so I thought I’d share a couple.
Quite often they would find themselves with spare time on their hands. Dad was ALWAYS up for a jape, and was, more often than not, was the instigator. They invented ‘Indoor Cricket’ and ‘Office Mountaineering’ which involved climbing around the office without letting your feet touch the floor/ (LOOK UP, smile)
there were other laughs to be had, such as writing letters to the Woking News and Mail from a fictitious retired Indian Army Major with controversial views on the treatment of performing elephants in circuses. This incited howls of outrage in the letters page, and howls of laughter in the office and they kept it going for several weeks. Dad LOVED a practical joke and had a brilliant sense of humour
It was at Woking council, was where he first met Mum.
She says he looked like Elvis Presley and he made her laugh.
They were married in 1966, on the day that England played in the Semi Final of the World Cup!
They honeymooned in Guernsey and luckily they found a TV so they could watch the grainy picture of England winning the world cup final!
When we were small, we had happy holidays in Cornwall, many shared with the Devonshire family.
Dad taught us how to fish for prawns in the rockpools of Constantine Bay, using limpets knocked off the rocks with the other end of a spade. We rock pooled together for hours. And we had endless fun in the shallows playing Runners and Jumpers, a game Dad invented – the rules were simple, you either jumped the wave, or ran back up the beach before it broke on you. A game that we still play to this day!
Dad enjoyed surfing on a proper plywood board. If you were standing on the beach trying to work out which one Dad was, he was easy to spot once you knew what you were looking for, a big, ball of foam, moving at speed and laughing his head off. Water skiing was even funnier as the ball of foam was larger and moved even faster.
Tea would be on the beach, Dad would boil up the prawns in sea water, and supper was served! Happy memories that instilled in us, a love of cornwall.
Back at home in Northdowns, and us, along with all the neighbours would prepare for the Annual Bean competition, which would be held next door. Dad and Tony over the road took this very seriously and their chosen variety of runner bean would be a closely guarded secret, and the prize for the longest and straightest bean, would be most coveted.
Oh, and woe betide any wife who inadvertently PICKED one of the shortlisted prize beans for Sunday lunch!!
Many of you will remember that Dad was a man who prided himself on his lawn. Lawns should not contain moss, and they should be exactly the right shade of green, and most importantly, the stripes should be Perfectly. Straight.
Also, & ideally, it should NEVER be walked on. He did make exceptions, & I clearly remember his hot sweats over the beloved grass, when it snowed and we’d be out there just stomping around willy-nilly and making snowmen on it.
Tony who lived over the road, was also partial to an outstanding lawn, and they would spend hours together cooking up grass seed recipes, to achieve the perfect green.
Talking of greens, his two favourites were Bowling Greens and Golf courses. He loved to play both, and it was hard for him to give them up when he became poorly.
Dad was a very proud Grandad, who adored his five grandchildren, Jake, Sam Toby, Tom and Mia. He rebuilt his beloved old train track in the dining room, and they’d play trains for hours on end and he loved to read them stories from Thomas the Tank Engine
The children all called him Bamber and he loved his nickname.
{(deep breathe. Just words.. remember)}
As you know, Dad bravely fought Parkinson’s dementia, which, slowly and cruelly, steals the person you love, from the inside and is a terrible disease, which they managed at home for many years.
Dad spent 5 years at Knowle Park Care Home where he was cared for by a team of amazing people who we suspect to be real live angels but you can’t tell, because by day, they tuck their wings in to their trousers, and we will be eternally grateful to them for the wonderful care he received, and I know Mum will miss many of them as over the years, they turned in to friends.
{(you can do it)}
Of course, his ally, his voice, his champion, and latterly his eyes and ears, was Mum. She was absolutely dedicated to Dad and as time passed, and we became lost to him, Mum was the one he always recognised. The one he responded to, the one who could calm him and even the one who could persuade him to eat, or take his medicine. She was his hero, and I know Dad would have been so proud of her. She was his lifeline. When everything became unfamiliar and difficult, she was there to reassure him and help him. His anchor. Always.
When looking for inspiring quotes to end on, and there were many, I came across these words of wisdom from AA Milne and his small bear, Pooh, and I’d like to leave you all with this…
You see, explained Christopher Robin, It’s like sleeping for a very long time,
But going to sleep means that someday you will wake up! Said Pooh.
Precisely! Owl exclaimed
And we will be here when you do, we will even make breakfast, Kanga added.
Christopher couldn’t help but smile.
I would very much like that, but you have to understand that it will be a very, long, time.
But Cristopher – Roo asked, what will we do when you are gone?
Ohhhh I won’t be gone, I’ll be right here, and he placed his finger over Roo’s heart.
None of you will be alone, you have each other and you will take good care of each other. All good things must come to an end. But here is the secret…..they huddled closer
Memories. Are. Forever. He said, and tapped Pooh on the nose.
Memories! Squeeked Piglet, cheering up immediately, I have plenty of those!
Christopher gathered everyone together and they started walking down the hill. They were all very busy discussing their memories.
Christopher took Pooh’s hand and they walked together watching the sun setting over the hundred Acre Wood, and listening to the sound of the leaves crunching under foot.
Pooh suddenly stopped. Looking down at his feet he said, in a soft, broken voice
Christopher, I believe I am going to miss you, very much indeed
Christopher Robin stared intently at the small bear and said
If there’s a tomorrow when we are not together, there is something that you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe. Stronger than you imagine and smarter than you think.
How do you spell love, said Pooh, looking up at his friend.
You don’t spell it, said Christopher gently. You feel it.

My Dad x

If any of you have the energy – I thought I’d also post my wonderful Father-in-law’s tribute, here, too. It kind of feels right to have them together. Ok, Brace yourselves, here we go …
John’s Tribute
Firstly, we would like to thank everyone for coming, for your kind words, and for all the heartfelt cards and letters.  We are very touched, as John would be, if he could see you all here, today. I am Sally, John’s daughter in law, but most of you know that. (smile)
John was a lovely man, who was dearly loved by Ann, Mark and Gav, his 5 grandchildren, and all of his family.
Although he came from simple beginnings, hard work and determination characterized this strong and loving man.
John was born in1939 just before the outbreak of World War 2. One of 4 brothers, they lived in Harrow, up until the tender age of just three, when he and his brother Barry were put on a train to the Countryside, as war time evacuees.
After the war, John left school with no qualifications at all and he managed to get a job as a farm hand, where he met a chap called Dennis, who introduced John to his sisters, Yvonne and Ann. John was sweet on Ann straight away, but he was soon called up to do his National Service and was stationed in Germany.
Now, during this time, Ann’s sister Yvonne, and their Mum, both wrote to John.
After two years, John came home and although he was very grateful for the two pen pals he’d had, it was Ann who had his heart, much to the amusement of Yvonne, who tells this story far better than me, with a fond giggle, she recalls ‘after writing all those letters he went and he married my sister!’
So Ann and John were married in 1963 and the reception was held in The White Bear in Addington. John, ever the gentlemen, ferried guests around all evening until they eventually ended up back home, in Ewhurst, where Ann suggested they all go to the pub, John agreed, and this set the tone for the rest of their marriage!
Their marriage was long and happy, I asked Ann if John was romantic, and she told me with a smile that some of the best presents he ‘d ever given her were wheel barrows and a ladder. Romantic, not so much Thoughtful, Certainly.
Working in sales didn’t seem to show much promise to start with. His first job was working for a company selling diggers. It didn’t go as well as he’d hoped as the only thing he sold, was a single digger bucket.
However, John proved himself to be a brilliant and astute and highly respected businessman, which culminated in him setting up what would become the family business, Anco,          and Gavin and Mark, soon joined him.
He reluctantly embraced technology, grumbling, when Gav wanted to buy their first computer, that ‘there’s nothing wrong with a handwritten receipt’.
His business acumen was sharp and he worked tirelessly to build a successful company. He was very highly thought of by his staff, customers, suppliers and even competitors. John would be so touched to see many of you here today.
His reputation went before him, but he was a modest man and would never boast nor show off. He had an annoying habit of being right about everything. Which could sometimes get on your nerves.
The three of them often went on business trips together, and more often than not, because of John’s cost saving measures, they would end up sharing one room, and the boys recall that John’s snoring was legendary!   They tell me that if they didn’t manage to fall asleep before the snoring started, they accepted that they would probably not sleep at all. John was blissfully unaware! Ann didn’t mind being left at home because it meant she got a good night’s sleep.
For the last 25 years, John Mark and Gav used to enjoy a weekly ‘board meeting, which would occur at 5 0clock on a Friday evening, down the pub, where the catering would always be the same. A pint of real ale and a bag of crisps. The world’s wrongs were put to rights, and more often than not, something would tickle John and he’d laugh that laugh, the one where he’d silently just get redder and redder in the face as he was gripped by the giggles unable to breathe in or out, until eventually the laugh just burst out of him, and he ‘d laugh until the tears rolled down his cheeks. That kind of brilliant laugh.
In his spare time, he loved nothing more than being in his garage where he’d tinker with cars. And when I say ‘tinker’ I mean spending hours in the breakers yard, searching for his next, project, which involved him then spending evening after evening, lovingly repairing the broken and battered cars and bringing them back to their former glory….
We found his old receipt book, and discovered that literally hundreds of cars went through John’s garage, and I bet many people sitting here today, will remember having a car from him.
He was a brilliant mechanic.
In fact, he was our Mr Fix it, if it was broken, he’d mend it. If it needed building, he’d build it. He could turn his hand to anything and always had just the tool for it, in the garage.
A practical man and a quiet, unassuming problem solver.
He wasn’t a sportsman, but was heavily involved in the Alfold Sports Club. Years ago, when enough money had been raised to demolish and rebuild the Sports pavilion, John was there to help and he famously recycled the parts form the old tin pavilion to make a cricket scoring box. He even designed, and built the bar in the clubhouse where you will order your drinks from later.
John loved a good caravanning holiday, and every summer, the car would be packed to the gunnels with the kids, the dogs, and supplies and off they’d go in convoy with The Debenhams. Nancy and Keith pulled a boat behind their car, which proved very useful because it housed the 50 gallons of home made cider they took with them. And I believe the boat was occasionally used to sail in
The family holidays to Wales were legendary, and John was never happier than when he was driving down an unmapped country road, ideally one with grass growing up the middle, to find that perfect secluded cove, and then later, getting sidetracked by the cricket on the radio, and everyone finding themselves getting rapidly cut off by the incoming tide, resulting in dramatic rescues in dinghies,  ferrying worried kids, the dogs AND the cider to higher ground. All part of the fun, he’d say.
Karen, john’s niece remembers when she capsized her canoe and was starting to panic, but John, calm in a crisis, was quick to reassure and got them safely back to dry land, in one piece.
John was possibly unaware that he was an inspiration to many.
During his 20-year battle with illness, he beat both Bowel cancer and Lung cancer. And he fought prostate cancer, for many, many years. He seemed fearless in the face of cancer. He seemed indestructible. He faced every challenge in his usual style, quietly, unassumingly and straight on. He never ever let it bother him, or if it did, he’d never ever show it. Embracing each treatment with a nonchalant acceptance.
Even last month, if anyone asked him how he was, he’d glance sideways at Ann, for reassurance, and say ’oh, I’m fine thank you ‘
A rare thing, he was a very good patient. But maybe that was so, because the person who cared for him most, was Ann. The saying ‘behind every great man is a great woman, was never truer, Ann’s dedication and optimism never faltered. They were a great team.
We are all so grateful to our family GP, Doctor Woodcock, the many consultants, nurses, surgeons, and recently the McMillian nurses.
He adored his family and was a very proud grandad to Ben Sophie Jake Sam and Toby. He showed us that in life you can achieve great things, and you don’t have to shout loudly about them, you can be quiet, unassuming and honest and fight your battles silently and with strength and dignity. You don’t need to blow your own trumpet. Be humble and kind, always.
He treated everyone the same, be them Prince or pauper.  John knew that to have success and challenges, you need courage and enjoyment in equal measure and there needn’t be any casualties along the way. He’d never upset anyone, gossip or argue. He was a peaceful kind man. He never gloated with success nor be self pitying about his challenges. He was level and true.
(and breathe)
We will all miss him very much, and it seems outrageous to think he is not here with us this afternoon. Although if he was, he’d definitely say he hoped he hadn’t put anyone out and don’t make a fuss. So let’s think about what we gained by knowing John, not what is lost. Let’s Celebrate a life well lived. And be happy that we all shared it with him.
John x

Thankyou xx
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24 Thoughts on Dad’s Eulogy, and John’s Tribute
    4 Feb 2017

    Beautiful Sally. A lovely tribute to a wonderful man. Enjoyed reading about his adventures and getting to know your dad.

      4 Feb 2017

      Cynthia, Thankyou xx

    4 Feb 2017

    Lovely words Sal, blubbing as I read them. Sending a huge hug and lots of love.xx

    4 Feb 2017

    such a beautiful and touching tribute to your father, lovely words.

    4 Feb 2017

    Wow. That was emotional reading. You brave women. It sounds like you have an amazing family. Had a wonderful childhood. Are a great mum.
    I too believe that our loved ones are only sleeping. That’s what Jesus said about Lazarus in John 11v11. He also promised that like when Lazarus heard Jesus voice and came out of the tomb our dead loved ones would awaken in the future. John 5:28,29. Please check out to see when this resurrection will occur and how we can be comforted right now through the pain of death. I really hope you don’t mind me writing this. But I was compelled to do so. Kindest regards. Much sympathy. Loads of love.

    4 Feb 2017

    Beautiful and well done my breathe has caught a few times reading this.

    4 Feb 2017

    Why did I read this in the car before heading to the shops??
    A beautiful eulogy, your Dad will be so proud. ?

    4 Feb 2017

    Wonderful, warm, loving words that I’m sure must have comforted everyone who shared your sad day. It must have been a beautiful service. Your dad would be so proud x

    4 Feb 2017

    Bless you, it was beautifully put together, well done xx

    4 Feb 2017

    Beautiful ?. Xxx

    4 Feb 2017

    Wow, that was so lovely and I have tears!
    Your dad sounds wonderful and his loss must have left a big hole in your family.
    You should be so proud of yourself for being able to read that. Your dad would be so proud of you.
    Sending love and hugs ??

    Caroline Martin
    4 Feb 2017

    Just beautiful. You did well. Your Dad would have been so proud of you! What a fab man he sounded. Sad story about his brother- that was so awful. But loved how you finished at the end with the story from Pooh! Brilliant. Xxxx

    4 Feb 2017

    What an amazing Eulogy, I’m sitting here tearing up at how beautiful it is. Also because that AA Milne quote is my favourite I have it in my classroom to remind all the children that they can do anything.

    4 Feb 2017

    Beautiful words you are very strong brave and inspirational you dad would be so proud xx

    5 Feb 2017

    Absolutely beautiful words, I’m sorry for your loss

    5 Feb 2017

    So beautifully written Sally, you should be very proud xxx

    Della Horsfield
    5 Feb 2017

    Oh Sally that was so beautiful and wonderful to read. I have a tear and don’t even know you or your Family.
    The story of your Dad with the apples reminded me of a story my Dad told me.
    When he was younger they would jump on the back of Owd Bob’s apple cart to steal the apples on this particular occasion my Dad fell off and broke his arm!
    He still got a thick ear apparently off his Mother for stealing!
    Sending healing wishes to you and your Family xx

    6 Feb 2017

    Sally I have just finished reading this in tears! Such beautiful words you should be so proud and I’m sure your family and the congregation were!
    He sounds like a wonderful man?….And the Winnie the Pooh quote was perfect!
    Sending hugs

    Sarah Y
    6 Feb 2017

    Oh my gosh Sally – in tears here. Sending you all lots of love and hugs xxx

    7 Feb 2017

    So very difficult to write words of love but you have managed it beautifully: the wonderful quote at the very end sums it up so well and paints the whole ‘love’ thing – so difficult to explain ‘love’! – into a simple picture.
    A hateful time for you all: thinking of you X

    12 Feb 2017


    13 Feb 2017

    So sorry for your loss. Beautiful words? Loved the eating apples on the tree & Runners & Jumpers on the beach. Lovely words from A.A. Milne at the end nice touch. The tears were rolling down my cheeks as I read it xx

    Helen Johnson
    15 Feb 2017

    Have only just read this Sally. I can’t believe I missed it. Absolutely beautiful . I’m sat here smiling to myself with tears rolling down my face. I think our dads would have got on like a house on fire and hope they bump into each other up there and have a game of golf.(my dad also had very similar scrumping story that also involved catching a pair of young lovers in the orchard!?)You did him proud Sally……very proud. Xx

      15 Feb 2017

      I hope they’ve played a round of golf together and are now on the 19th having a sherbet xxx thanks Helen xxx

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