Funeral arrangements for Chris Comber

 Chris Comber sadly died on Saturday 2nd February at the age of 74.

His funeral will be in the North Chapel at Eltham Crematorium, Crown Woods Way, London SE9 2AZ on Thursday 7th March at 1145.

The funeral reception will be held in the Great Hall at Hall Place, Bourne Road, Bexley, Kent DA5 1PQ also on Thursday 7th March from 1400 to 1700.

Flowers are welcome and should be sent to P. L. Mulligan Funeral Directors, 268 Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent DA6 8BE. Alternatively, donations may be sent to the British Heart Foundation (or a charity of your choice).

I should be grateful if you would indicate your availability for the above two events on or before Thursday 28th February. If you wish to attend the funeral reception please inform me of any allergies or dietary requirements, also on or before Thursday 28th February. rmcomber@email.com

Chris Comber RIP

It was with much sadness that earlier today I heard from Rita Comber that Chris had passed away last Saturday, the 2nd February. I understand from his Son, Matt, that his health had deteriorated over the past year. I last saw Chris at the OA’s Advent lunch in November when despite having broken his hip earlier that year, suffering a bout of pneumonia and walking with sticks to aid his arthritic ankles, he was his usual chirpy self. I will let you know the funeral arrangements in due course

Neville Hodgson RIP reported by Dennis Johnson

It is with great sadness that I have to have to tell you of the passing of Neville.  He died early on the morning of Tuesday 8th January.  Ann and I did visit them just before Christmas, he was frail then and I believe it was his heart that gave out on Tuesday.  He was at home, with wife Barbara and is succeeded by his wife and children Andy and Kathy.

He was a thoroughly good fellow, although he was a little older than me we ended our time at Aske’s in the same form, 6th Remove.  We were each courting girls from the Girls’ School at the time, we later found out that the girls were cousins, subsequently both couples were married.  Thus, we were close friends over a very long period.  Until a couple of years ago when his health deteriorated he and Barbara were enthusiastic supporters of OAA events, including the Rambling Club, Advent Lunch and City Diners.

He spent some years as an Ordinary Member of the OAA Committee and he was especially helpful in haberdashery matters and played a significant part in the 2006 Blazer Project. Neville was able to attend the reunion last September of those that started school in 1947 or thereabouts, and with Barbara in recent years he has kindly hosted the OARC Annual picnic in the garden of their home at Ashurst, Kent.

I shall miss him and so will many Askean and other friends who  knew him.

I understand it will be a small family funeral and the details will not be circulated.    Dennis Johnson

Funeral of Dave Kingston

Some 150 plus people crowded in to the North Chapel at Eltham Crematorium on Thursday 6th September 2018 for the funeral of Old Askean Dave Kingston. There were many Old Askean in the congregation who had come to say farewell to a good friend. The service was conducted by fellow Old Askean Deacon Barry Mellish and one of the two eulogies was given by another Old Askean Robert Noble. 

After the service the assembly moved to the Royal Blackheath Golf Club where Dave had been a member. Memories and anecdotes were shared for several hours over a glass or two of beer and plates of food. It was a fitting farewell to a good man.

Keith Spurgeon is seriously ill

We have received the following from Keith’s wife:

Thank you for your letter… it’s good to know that Keith is thought about

Sadly his brain is so damaged from the stroke, and with vascular dementia too, that he hardly remembers anything

Not even playing golf, tennis & squash

His vision is affected so he can’t see TV or read:  he kept losing his hearing aids so can’t wear them now: and he can’t form a sentence any more, I have to guess what he’s trying to say.

But he still knows me. 

It’s not easy, but he’s being well cared for & I visit him every afternoon. 

I got a laugh from him however when I showed him a photo of ‘Willie’s boys ‘ in their blazers.

Thames River Cruise Sunday 22 July 2018

Forty-one landlubbers were aboard the Thames Barge “Lady Daphne” 
on Sunday  22 July 2018 on a trip organised by Roger Pawley. It was a splendid day in all senses of the word. The weather was perfect. The on board Guide, Bill, was full of information about what we were passing as the Barge went through Tower Bridge
and past historic Greenwich and the Thames Barrier. We were treated to morning coffee, a two course lunch and tea and cake mid-afternoon, before our return about 5 pm, having left London Bridge Pier around 10.30. For some shipmates the act of boarding and disembarking on a choppy Thames tide was an adventure in itself.
 
By Dennis Johnson

OAA AGM 5th July 2018

Some 25 plus members attended the AGM in the lovely setting of the Royal Blackheath Golf Club. Andy Jordan-Smith was elected President for the coming year.

After the meeting the members plus guest enjoyed a very pleasant meal. A more detailed account of the meeting will appear shortly.

 

Stroll in the Forest – May 2018

Sixteen of us assembled for ‘standing orders’ at our hotel along with Rocky a Border terrier, rescued by Hazel and Roger, previously owned by a friend who could no longer cope with him. Three more members joined us later in the week. Rocky accompanied every ramble and even appeared to lead some, but to claim that would be denigrating the skills of Dennis and Roger! 

When Bill Bryson wrote A Walk in the Woods his understated title referred to trekking in the Appalachian Mountains. However the first Rambling Club walk, a stroll through the forest, was just that. The forest was the New Forest in Hampshire and we began at Lyndhurst Heath near the hotel at Cadnam where we stayed. It was only three fairly easy miles, starting on open heathland with a single cow (an escapee?) and several ponies which would came right up to you. Once among trees navigation was difficult, but modern technology saw through to Beechen Lane and back to Lyndhurst. Presumably ‘beechen’ is the local plural of beech, as in children and oxen, and there were beech trees on both sides of the lane. 

The next day our fittest four accepted an invitation to join the New Forest Ramblers for a fiveandhalf mile ramble beginning at Millyford Bridge. Fearing I would merely stroll and hold up the others I was not one of the four. I understand there were some tricky paths with fallen trees to be negotiated, and the pace was brisk. I also didn’t take part in the slightly shorter ramble at Keyhaven by The Solent on a hot, sunny day. Those who were not taking part in any of the walks went to towns like Lymington where there are cobbled streets and the church has a huge gallery erected in 1798. There are attractive villages such as Minstead, gardens noted for azaleas and rhododendrons, Beaulieu Abbey and The National Motor Museum. 

The final ramble began at Burley which seems to be a village obsessed by witches and things occult. I usually find something historical to write about when recording Old Askean rambles and this time it was a stone rather like a milestone but placed on the edge of the village in 1802. It reads ‘Peace restored 27th March 1802. Rest and be thankful’. This refers to the fourteen months of peace, agreed at the Treaty of Amiens, during the wars with Napoleonic FranceThe path took us along a disused railway track and through Holmsley Bog which fortunately lay below road level. 

Blazers were worn for the last meal of the holiday and The Sandbin was sung more tunefully than in the recent past. Unfortunately there was no Welsh choir present to appreciate our efforts. Jenny set the quiz which was won by Ann Johnson (on her own she insisted). 

Vic Harrup

Eulogy given to Richard Lawrence CBE at his funeral

It was characteristic of Dick that he should have had firm ideas about his funeral arrangements. He wanted the cremation, which took place earlier this morning, to be a private matter, confined to his immediate family.  He wanted this Memorial Service, which he devised himself, to be for his friends.  He would be delighted and gratified that so many of you are here.

Dick was a man of lifelong friendships.  I have never known anyone who attended and arranged so many reunions.  As is apparent from the marvellous letters Joan has received, he had friendships going back to school and army; he had regular reunions with a dwindling number of his cricketing friends from the Old Askeans; he was a regular attender at golf excursions with his friends from  Customs, the Belton Bracers; he regularly met his team from the Investigation Branch – the Old Knockers; he never lost contact with his secretary; he was a regular for the Seniors team at Dulwich and Sydenham; he was a faithful attender at this church, except when I lured him away to play golf on a Sunday morning ~ sorry about that, Father Robert.  This is a reunion of so many groups of his friends and he would have loved to be here.

I first met Dick nearly forty years ago.  We first played golf at a course called Belmont near Faversham but it wasn’t long before our golf centred on Dulwich and Sydenham, where Harry Walsh and the late Frank Bond formed our regular weekend four-ball.  

We played countless games together and I last played golf with Dick in September.  On the last green, when the match was in the balance, he gave me a 4-foot putt which I almost certainly would have missed.  He then had an 8-foot putt for victory.  It was the last stroke I saw him play and he holed it.  As a result of his generosity, I was reasonably pleased that he holed it at the time ~ but I’m immensely pleased now.

Our friendship went much wider than golf.   We shared a love of cricket and rugby.  I think of Dick every morning now when I turn on the radio to hear the cricket news from Australia.  I’m glad that he has been spared the result of the Brisbane Test Match.  We exchanged book suggestions.  Dick, Joan, Jill and I went to films together and discussed them over a meal afterwards.  In fact, the last time I saw Dick was on October 10th when the four of us went to the film On Chesil Beach, about which we had conflicting opinions.  Dick was never short of opinions.

October 10th ~ at that time he had not been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and yet five weeks later to the exact day he died.  No wonder that losing him has been such a shock to all of us. 

Dick was immensely proud of being a civil servant and in particular of being a member of Customs and Excise, as his father had been before him.  He was the best sort of civil servant.  He believed in public service; he had fairness and integrity, tempered with a sense of humour about the villains whom it was the stock in trade of Investigation Branch to deal with.  It cannot be said that he was an uncritical admirer of Her Majesty’s Constabulary but he would hear no wrong of his own Service.  If there had been any justice he should have been appointed to the Board of Customs but it was fitting that at the end of his career he was made a Commander of the British Empire for his achievements and his leadership.

It was perhaps inevitable that Dick’s sense of public service extended outside his professional life.  He and Joan have done a great deal for this church.  He served on the Council of Dulwich and Sydenham Golf Club for six years and was President from 2010 to 2013.  In that role he dealt with the problems and tensions which beset a golf club with a patience and courtesy which won the respect and affection of both members and staff.

It was a critical time for the Club because its lease from the Dulwich Estate was coming to an end and had to be renegotiated.  The negotiations were protracted and difficult but, largely as a result of Dick’s reasonableness and patience, have resulted in an agreement which has secured the future of the Club for many years to come.

Dick’s life was characterised by lifelong loyalty – and that found its supreme expression in his loyalty to Joan and his family.  He was immensely proud of Vanessa and Charlotte and of his grandchildren, Henry and Emma.  He was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and his family returned his love and loyalty wholeheartedly.  He loved his home, not least his garden and his vegetables, on which I received regular reports on the golf course.

How can I sum up Dick’s qualities?  He was a good man and all our lives, including mine, have been enriched by knowing him.  I cannot do better than the epitaph which another Customs Officer – the Scottish poet Robbie Burns – wrote about his friend: –

An honest man is now at rest

The friend of man, the friend of truth

The friend of age, and guide of youth

Few hearts like his, with virtue warmed;

Few heads with knowledge so informed;

If there’s another world, he lives in bliss

If there is none he made the best of this.

 

The Right Honourable The Lord Butler of Brockwell KG GCB CVO PC