Sunday, 12 January 2014

WE DON'T LIVE FOREVER, SO LET'S GIVE IT OUR BEST SHOT WHILE WE'RE HERE!

On Christmas day my good friend Derek died of a Cerebral Haemorrhage.  They say that his death was instant and he wouldn't have felt a thing but it was till a terrible shock.
 
Davy and I met Derek in the early 1980’s and took an immediate liking to him. A very complex man, highly intelligent, but at times incredibly stupid; parsimonious yet amazingly generous;  a  caring man who didn’t suffer fools gladly .  

But his most endearing quality was his kind and gentle nature.  When his wife Yvonne became ill and went into a coma he vowed to himself that if she survived he would devote his time to caring for her.  She did survive and, true to this vow, spent the next 25 years until her death tending for her every need.  You would have expected nothing less of him.   

But this is only scratched the surface of the great man and although Davy and I became his close friends he modestly only allowed us rare glimpses into his past achievements.  This is his brother Ross' Eulogy which he kindly agreed I could re-print.  So,  please let me introduce Derek:   

You will have noticed that a number of us are wearing Highland dress.  This is in Derek's honour, because he was very proud of our Scottish ancestors and wore the kilt or trews as often as possible when the occasion arose. 

I will now read a precis of Derek's life which I read to him eighteen months ago at his 80th birthday dinner.  He found it rather embarrassing! 

He was born nearly 82 years ago in the house in Lower Bourne that our parents built in 1926 and where Derek still lived. We had a happy childhood with loving and golf mad parents. 

We went to prep school at Barfield near Farnham. We then went to Rugby where Derek got an excellent exam result to Cambridge. At Keys College, Cambridge, he played golf and rowed for the College.  He was awarded a first class degree in Law. 

He did National Service in the Army.  He was an officer in the Royal Artillery, became an Airborne Gunner, earning the coveted red beret and took part in the ill fated 1955 Suez campaign.  He finally got his medal 2 years ago! 

Coming out of the Army and after passing his legal exams, he qualified as a Lawyer and became legal adviser to the Stock Exchange Council.  Then he worked for the Law Society in London. 

He was appointed Area Director for Legal Aid in the South and South West, based in Reading, with a large staff. 

He retired at the age of 57 to be with his wife Yvonne who had diabetes.  He worked from home preparing solicitors bills of costs. 

He looked after Yvonne for some 25 years until she died 7 years ago, after 34 years of marriage. 

Now to Golf. 

He started playing at the age of 8, coached by our father.  He must have known every blade of grass on the Hankley Common fairways, but not the rough of course! 

He played in the Army championships, was a semi-finalist in the Surrey championship,  a finalist in the Dutch championship and played in the Swiss championship.

He had the lowest score ever over 2 rounds in the Hankley Common championship which has never been bettered.  He presented a trophy to the Club for anyone who does.  He won the Hankley Common Club championship 6 times, the last time being 16 years after the first. 

He presented the Club with the very fine granite stone which marks the entrance.  The Club became his second home.  He was the oldest member. 
 
And other things.

He collected cars, especially Lotus.  He still owned one of the first Lotus Elites which he built in 1962 with a little help from Yvonne and me.  He was a motor cyclist for some 30 years. 

He was a talented photographer; a Member of the Royal Photographic Society;  a keen astronomer, having just bought a computerised telescope which sadly he never used; a talented artist; author of two published books and an acknowledged authority on vintage Omega watches of which he had a large collection bought from all over the world. 

He loved mountains and specially the Swiss Alps, having been on many walking holidays there with Yvonne.  He had over 250 books on the Alps, most of which he claimed to have read! 

He was a City Liveryman, a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society, the Historic Lotus Register, Clan Donnachaidh Society, the Parachute Regiment Society and he was a friend of the Airborne Museum at Arnhem in Holland. 

Now to Derek, the man. 

He was gentle, kind, thoughtful and generous, not only financially but with his time. 

He was not well from time to time having had a number of major operations on his back and neck probably due to a bad landing when jumping as a paratrooper.  But I never once heard him complain. 

Laterley, he had been very attentive to his friend Brian who does not enjoy good health. 

He was very fond of my wife Gill and immensely proud of our two boys and their children. 

He loved them as the father of a family he sadly never had. 

He was a true Gentleman and truely gentle man. 

He was my beloved brother. 

A very touching tribute from his brother who is himself a very kind and gentle man.   

None of these things were surprising to hear.  In fact I’m sure that from time to time we had heard them from Derek’s own lips, but to hear them all together was astounding.  How could this modest and quiet man have done so much?   

And do you know the biggest shock of the day?  He asked that at the end of the service they play Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz “The Girl from Ipanema”!  What was that all about?  J  Such a surprising man, why shouldn’t I have realized that lurking under his establishment exterior was a playboy!  And I, of all people, shouldn’t have been shocked because inside this old 73 year old woman lurks a 19 year old cowgirl!   

God bless you Derek, we all loved you so much.  xxxx

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Too true

Eddie Bluelights said...

Quite a man - he had so many wonderful attributes and was loved by so many.
Thanks for sharing that with us.

Belated New Year greetings and let's hope 2014 is a kind one. Hugs ~ Eddie

ADDY said...

OMG. If I am right, he was the one who used to comment on my posts as "Doglover" (and email me). He was always kind and supportive to me when I had just lost Greg. I am lost for words and so sorry.

Ann Cordner said...

And belated New Year greetings to you too Eddie xx

Ann Cordner said...

Yes, Addy, he alias was indeed Doglover. He will be missed by many, many people. A wonderful man.

Ann Cordner said...

By the way Eddie, Maggie said she had trouble leaving a comment on this blog. Have you every experienced problems?

ADDY said...

So very sad to receive your confirmation that it was the Derek I had come to know too. A lovely tribute from his brother Ross - if you are in contact, please let Ross know that Derek's help and friendship reached across the blogosphere.

laurie said...

Dear Ann,
Thank you so much for writing this, and for letting me know. He was a great blog-friend of mine and used to send me back channel emails about all kinds of things. I am so happy that I got to know him and I am so very sorry that he's gone. I'm with ADDY, who says he was kind and supportive--he was the same to me.
Laurie

Eddie Bluelights said...

I think Maggie may (May, get it? lol) be having trouble with word verification which is a lot easier now it is numbers but she was always dreadful with maths. I used to use this but stopped because a lot of unwanted spam comments were getting through so I have changed to approve all comments and then I can weed them out.

Maggie May said...

That's always very sad when a good friend dies.

Its so good to be able to comment again. I was completely barred before.
This had been going on for months!
The numbers are so easy to read, unlike the letters used to be but I didn't even get that far before.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Ann Cordner said...

Maggie, I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you alerted me to the comment problem. If anyone else is having problems leaving comments on my blog can you email me on ann@infotel.co.uk please and I'll try to figure out what is happening. TA xxx