Some of us were at school with Pete from 1959 – 1966, to say that we stunned by his untimely death is to put it mildly. His widow Lindy is trying to gather as much information as she can about Pete during his early years. There are some Youtube Video clips that have been put together which you might find interesting and amusing:
Reflections from a Son on his dear Father, Antony John Harding (9th Jan 1933- 27th Dec 2021) “ Tony” or “AJH”
I could of course speak the whole day, and more, about him. There is so much to talk about. What’d I like to do however is to talk about the wonder and the joy of being a true “ Everyman” He was so full of life and spirit, at his prime- which lasted many years, in its pomp, in its essence and in its being. As is well known, and is such well represented here at this service today by some of the young minds he formed and lives he touched, as a Teacher and as a Mentor- and in so many cases their futures that he remained passionately linked to, involved with, and interested in- his “beating heart” was always about taking potential, whomsoever that might be as long as they were interested, and having the pleasure and fulfilment of seeing that potential flourish into a fully formed reality. The most wonderful gift that he, together with dear Mum, Nancy, bestowed on me their only child, was the confdence and ability to not just communicate with, but feel people from different voices from different lands, from different socio-economic backgrounds, “princes and paupers”, you name it! This was because my Father had this gift in abundance to hand down, a beautiful contrast in his persona, which provided him with a great depth of character. He was the person of authority of course, the teacher, the mentor… but he was at times quietly, then at certain times, quite outspokenly ”anti- authoritarian” (with Mum not being a “shrinking violet” in this department either!) This was seen particularly in the support of an underdog, especially if he felt that individual had beengiven the “thin end of the wedge”. This could move him very passionately in the defence of said person or ideal. He was stubborn – yet flexible, appeasing and accepting when the “chips were down”, as for example there have been several times in my life. He was as strong as they were- and yet he was vulnerable. I personally got to understand over the years and by watching and learning from him that to be one of these, you had to be the other too! He was a man of intense conviction… but equally a man of compassion and of faith. And as a quintessentially Man of Letters and the Arts, which outside of his family was his unabiding passion and interest, he was a hopeless romantic, and always encouraged the people he cared for to follow their dreams. But more than anything: he was a kind and generous man with everything he had, but most importantly his time…… So when thinking all this through, for these few words can never do justice to describe the reflections of this Son for this particular Father, with all the vast amounts of literature- including his own work- I could have used, I was drawn to an old poem by Rudyard Kipling, that I keenly remember him carrying to me at a young age, that would sum up so much of what I have tried to describe here before.Here is Kipling’s poem “IF”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Tony Harding, Old Askean and former English teacher at the school died peacefully on 27th December. His son Lawrence was with him. He was such a great support to so many both at school and afterwards. One of his former pupils writes:
I just heard that one of the stalwarts of Aske’s, the amazing and much loved Tony Harding, died yesterday. I doubt those of a more recent generation will have heard of him, but he was the head of English for decades and a real genuine academic who spent his entire career at Aske’s, of which he was himself an old boy, that must have covered nearly 50 years. I think it’s fair to say he was one of a handful of teachers that from the 60s on drove the reputation for excellence that Aske’s used to enjoy and that made it the most oversubscribed school in London. In many ways Telegraph Hill as an area exists in it present format because of what he helped the school to become. If you loved literature then you loved Tony. He was not without his faults for sure, but generally a great bloke and a very involved teacher during his whole career. His school plays were legendary. I once made an overly arch pointing gesture when I was playing Julius Caesar and his on-the-nose remark was, “A bit more gravitas and a bit less Hermione Gingold, old chap.” I had heard that he was in bad health and he was, of course, going on 90. Sadly CV restrictions must mean attending his funeral is out of the question. I often remember when I mentioned to him that I was thinking of asking a girl in one of the productions out (which would have been my first date if she hadn’t turned me down!) he recommended the Spaghetti House to me as it was cheap but still ‘up West’ and said, “Hold on a minute,” and went to the stationary cupboard where he took out a collection of the Metaphysical poets. “Take this. You can’t go far wrong with that. Keep it.” That’s the kind of man he was.
My name is Peter Sidgwick, Michael’s younger brother and I’m here to talk about him and his life and to express the thoughts and feelings of his daughter Lucy and his son Nicholas
Michael was born on 21st May 1941 in Farnborough Hospital which made him a very proud Kentish Man.
Our parents had married the previous August so he was clearly conceived very soon after the wedding, not surprising really as Dad was in the Navy and about to go to sea for most of the next five years. With him away at sea, Michael was brought up by my mum and grandmother, first in Catford then when the Blitz was getting ever closer back to the relative safety of his birthplace Farnborough. When Dad ‘s ship was refitting in Wallasey Dock on the Wirral for a few months, Michael and Mum moved up there to be with him for a while but then it was back south and a fatherless existence until the end of the war.
Once victory had been achieved, the family was reunited and they moved into a house in Benbury Close just round the corner from Beckenham Hill Road near Southend Village.
In 1947, I arrived as one of the baby boomers and by now Michael had begun school at Torridon Road School in Catford.
I think I was regarded as an irritant in my early years; one of the things I did which irritated him especially was my strange desire to remove all the tyres from his Dinky toy cars.
Then our Dad’s job took us up north to Sheffield and for a while it looked as if Michael’s accent was going to change drastically; our time there was short lived however and after a couple of years we returned to London but the time spent in the steel city did have a profound effect on big brother as he became a lifelong supporter of Sheffield Wednesday football club. Mind you to my knowledge he never got to see them in the flesh.
By 1951 we were settled in Grove Park and a year later Michael passed the 11 Plus and was given a place at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Boys’ School.
My abililty to irritate him persisted and on one occasion he got his own back in spades though I have to hope that he didn’t act on purpose.
We were playing cricket in a local park. He was batting and I was told to keep wicket. What I was not told was that it is not advisable to stand about three inches from the stumps. The bowler bowled, Michael raised his bat to swipe the ball but instead swung it right round over his shoulder and smacked me firmly in the gob.
Our exploits with cricket continued some years later when I was the batsman and he was the bowler. This was in our back garden in Grove Park. He retreated right to the bottom of the garden, turned and took a flying run up to deliver the fastest delivery possible. This time I was ready and determined not to sustain another injury at his hands. The ball was released, flew through the air at a fearsome rate of knots and I ducked enabling it to smash through the dining room window directly behind me. I can’t remember which one of us was blamed.; I think he was. But I guess it made us even stevens in the world of cricket.
It was at Aske’s that Michael found the sport which really suited him and which became a passion for the rest of his life; the game of course was rugby. But much more of that a little later. Michael worked as a van boy on Saturdays at a local bakery in his middle teens, presumably to pay for his fags; in those days Senior Service was the cigarette of choice. Much later when I had secretly taken up the filthy habit, I would relieve him of one or two of them from the packet which he always unwisely left on the hall table overnight. My thieving sometimes resulted in a serious ear bashing if not an actual clip round one of those ears.
Despite the filthy habit, Michael was a keen cyclist and I remember him once polishing off the 70 odd miles down to Deal in Kent on his Dawes racer to join the rest of the family on holiday.
Some years later, when he had recently passed his driving test, he and I had been out on a day trip to the coast, that was Deal as well as I recall. On the way back in our parents Wolseley 1500 the car in front of us on a winding country road suddenly and unaccountably stopped and we drove straight into the back of it; no one was hurt and there was minimal damage. We were convinced that Michael was a blameless victim until it was explained that he was at fault as he was guilty of driving without due care and attention; that was another accident which did not exactly delight our dear old man.
In his late teens, skiffle music was all the rage and with some fellow Askeans, he formed a skiffle group in which he played the washboard with great enthusiasm and no little skill. Thimbles were fitted to the fingers of one hand and with the other one holding the washboard up right, a very effective percussion accompaniment could be provided to back the singers, guitars and banjo by dragging the thimbles over the corrugations of the board.
The group didn’t quite rival Lonnie Donegan, the big star of the time but they regularly played at skiffle nights at Chislehust Caves.
It wasn’t just skiffle that Michael enjoyed; He developed a love for modern jazz and he quickly passed that love on to me; a gift for which I am eternally grateful. This was the period when it really paid to have a brother six and a half years older than oneself because he took me to concerts and clubs that your average 13 or 14 year old just wouldn’t have got to in those days. As a result, I was able to see such greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson. On top of that there were visits to folk clubs in the area to see such performers as another Askean the late Joe Stead, a dear friend of Michael’s.
After Aske’s Michael trained to be a Quantity Surveyor and worked for several building companies in the London area and ultimately for the erstwhile Greater London Council.
He also met the love of his life Judy and they married in 1966; I was honoured to act as his best man at the wedding in Christchurch Priory and six years later I was able to return the compliment when he was my best man. Michael and Judy enjoyed 48 years together in Farnborough and latterly in Lydd before her death in 2014. In the process they produced these two fine people here with us today, daughter Lucy and son Nicholas.
Here are the thoughts of his daughter Lucy.
My overriding legacy from Dad is our unique language “Animal language ” as Mum and Dad called it. To most it’s nonsensical. Dad would talk of griefing all the sweets which meant helping himself to the lot of them!
When our cats pushed around our legs, we would say that the fuffies were fuffying. Nick & I are the only ones now fluent in this strange language. .Mind you the grandchildren used to say that Grandad was griefing all the sweets. So that expression will live on in the family.
He had so many funny sayings.
When getting Nick to tidy his room he’d say
” If it’s clean put it in the drawer, if it’s dirty put it in the bin”
“Back on the coach!” he would say, and he was a stickler for time keeping. “LATE!” could be heard often. Even towards the end of his life he’d be checking his watch & asking the time constantly as if he had somewhere to be. The carers commented on that. He was a creature of habit and liked his meals at a certain time much like all the Sidgwicks. Nick & I still do!
I remember taking him yummy cakes and especially cream doughnuts.
In his last years, he had gone from being a beer drinker and a fag smoker to someone who preferred lemon squash and coke and sweets and chocolate bars of all sorts, especially Bounty bars The carers said he had more sweets than a sweet shop. As for entertainment, it was BBC Radio 5 Live for all the sport and waiting for the football results especially for his beloved Sheffield Wednesday.
We are so grateful to Dad’s carers His three favourites were working together on the evening before he died and reported that that they were all laughing with him because his voice sounded husky & sexy .We’d like them to know how much we appreciated their kindness and how grateful we are that they were with him at the end holding his hand.
After he’d slipped away, Nick and I gained comfort from the sight of him obviously at peace. We remembered the words of this poem:
“And when we saw you sleeping, so peaceful and free from pain. We could not wish you back to suffer that again.”
To finish in our language, Goodbye From your Daught t ta & Snorbitz. Sweet dreams Ninke.
And this is Nicholas’s tribute on behalf of himself, Nancy his wife and the three grandchildren, Archie, George and Florence.
” Nicky tea ” came a foghorn voice from the bottom of the park about 800 metres from where we lived. I remember all my friends giving me a lot of stick saying “Daddy says it’s time for tea”
Dad was banging an antique gong ,as I ran home from playing football.
He was a strong figure of a man bright, intelligent and with a great sense of humour And he was loving with a big heart but he would tell you off with a loud bark and he didn’t take any nonsense .His passion for soul music & later jazz funk, set the way for me to explore other genres of music.
And then there was his Rugby. He was a very committed player & fixture secretary for the Askeans, where he had many great friends.
Gone but never forgotten Dad, Forever Love, Nicky
As Nick has just recalled Michael had a passion for rugby and in particular the Askeans.
He was a very useful second row forward playing sometimes for the first team and many, many times for the Princes, the second fifteen. I’m proud to say that I had the pleasure of partnering him in the second row on at least one occasion. But playing the game was only part of his contribution to the club. In the 60s and 70s as the club went from strength to strength, Michael took on the role of Fixture Secretary and worked tirelessly to build an increasingly impressive fixture list which meant matches against some very tough opponents both in England and Wales.
The family is very grateful for the presence here today of several Askeans and for the tributes received from Jim Russell, Colin Brewer, Dave Shute, Steve Homewood, Barry Mellish, Dave Wickerson, Tony Mimms, Graham Evans and Peter Dessent. All spoke of his great contribution to the club and his lively personality especially in the bar after matches where he often led the very boozy and bawdy singing of rugby songs.
It’s a measure of the high regard in which he was held that the club decided to bestow upon him the honour of a life membership.
Sadly in his late middle age, Michael began to suffer ill health.. He finished working as a quantity surveyor and briefly ran a floristry business with Judy which unfortunately was not successful. As his health deteriorated it was decided to leave Farnborough and move down to Lydd on Romney Marsh. Inititally this gave him a boost and he enjoyed a happier time even joining an amateur dramatics group and playing a villain in a pantomime. He also worked as a volunteer on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. But the happier time was short lived as Parkinson’s Disease began to take hold of him. His mobility was seriously compromised, so much so that it became necessary for him to be admitted to a care home. After a short time there, he was transferred to a second home and it was whilst there that his wife Judy died. The house was sold and Lucy arranged for him to be transferred to a third home in Longfield near her and her brother. This home was excellent and as you have heard already he received wonderful care from the staff, some of whom are with us today. His condition gradually worsened and he was admitted to hospital on several occasions. In his last few months he really was a shadow of his former self but he accepted his lot stoically, never complained and gratefully accepted the care lavished on him.
Having only recently been discharged from yet another stay in hospital, Michael returned to the home last month but his condition did not improve and finally he fell peacefully into unconsciousness and drifted away on August 28th at the age of 79.
You’ll always be remembered Grandad. Sleep well big brother. Rest in peace Dad
We are writing with immense sadness to inform you of Malcolm’s death on the 19th of August, after a brief illness with cancer. We want to let you know how proud he was to be an old collegian of the school. He read the magazine cover to cover each addition with such pride.
I am grateful to son Paul for this eulogy read at Keith’s funeral held on 25th March at St Lawrence Church Bidborough. The small church was overfull; the congregation reflected Keith’s wide interests, and included three O.A.’s, suitable attired in striped blazers.
Dad was always fond of talking about his past, his childhood and his roots. Whether telling Caroline and me about his experience of cycling ten miles to school every day through wind,rain, snow and searing heat (not always at the same time) before letting us out of his car at the school gates, his adventures in East Africa as a young shipping agent for Union Castle, or his experiences during the war (I think his favourite story was when a nearby bomb scared his white cat Snowy into running up the chimney and coming down as a black cat Sooty). And although I never met my grandparents, Dad would often share his memories of them, his Dad Fred stopping a runaway horse and cart on Lewisham High Street, and his mum Vi’s love of singing musical hall songs at the piano.
As a tribute I’d like to share some slightly more recent stories of the things I remember about him as a father.
I think we all know that Sport was a massive part of Dad’s life. I’ve not really inherited his talent, but Dad tried hard to get me engaged.
Although tennis, squash, and lately golf were his main passions, Dad had also been a keen footballer, playing one or two matches for one of Charlton Athletic’s reserve teams, and after taking me to a couple of matches as a child, they also became my team. For a short time in the late 1990’s this was quite exciting, and I remember returning the favour and taking Dad to see them play in their first (and only) premiership season. Dad also tried hard to get me into playing football, driving me to and cheering me on at cub scout matches, and even managing to get the legendary Jimmy Hill (who Dad knew from tennis circles) to write in my autograph book wishing me and the team good luck.
Dad came from a generation when domestic duties were more clearly divided between men and women than they are today, although I’m told he did change the occasional nappy, which was apparently quite modern for a 1970’s dad. Cooking was definitely not one of his passions, andso whenever Mum was out it was normally a choice between eggs on toast or lunch at a local pub. Most times, we would both agree on the second; I have fond memories of lunchtimes spent at the Beehive pub whenever Mum was away … and slightly fuzzier memories of a few years later when he would always be happy to pick me up from the same pub after it had become the favourite hangout for me and my friends. Thanks Dad.
Even if he was reluctant to pick up a saucepan, Mum kept him busy with a constant list of gardening jobs, which he would diligently work through with only occasional grumbling or outsourcing to me … it’s a big lawn for 50p). Perhaps part of the attraction was the chance to compete with the laws of gravity and impress, sorry, scare the living daylights out of, Mum by balancing precariously 30 feet up a ladder with a chainsaw under his arm.
In later years, although his nappy changing days were behind him, he was always delighted and entertained by his lovely grandchildren (and not just as an excuse to indulge his and their sweet tooths). One of our fondest recent memories was him singing along with Clara and Amelie to Delilah as part of the entertainment put on at the care home for his Golden Wedding celebrations (his 30 years of training with the Orpheus choir not so easily forgotten perhaps).
One of the things I most admired about Dad was his confident and easy-going nature. He just seemed to get on with everyone and if he ever needed a favour people were generally happy to help him out. I remember age 9 or 10 Dad taking me to Wimbledon on finals day, and finding all the seats were taken in the Umpires section of the stand, he persuaded the scoreboard operator to let me sit with her under the scoreboard to watch Navratilova play Hana Mandlikova. He had some explaining to do when we got home and Mum had spotted me on TV, but I think we got away with it and I’m pretty sure I was allowed back the next year.
I think Dad would have been proud that I was visiting garages recently as part of my career with Shell. This brought back happy memories of “bring your kids to work days” with him, watching him leverage his family man credentials to convince site managers into switching to Shell oils, and bribing me with Smiths Crisps to keep quiet and smile sweetly.
I hope you can join us later at the tennis club to share your own memories of Dad with a pint of his favourite Harveys or, if you prefer, the legendary “Poult Wood Pinky”.
I think it’s no exaggeration to say Dad made the most of his 86 years, focussing on the things and activities he loved. This shone through in his personality, always seeing the bright side, even near the end when his mind and body wore out well before his patience and charm.
We’ll all miss you Dad, but you leave us with a lot of happy and proud memories.
The funeral for Neville was at St Martin’s Church Ashurst on 29 January 2019. There were no tributes at the service but I want to put some of my own thoughts on record concerning his passing. I was pleased to read the Old Askean Grace at the conclusion of the Service.
It was with great sadness that I learned of his death. Ann and I did visit him and Barbara just before Christmas, he was frail then and I believe it was his heart that gave out on 7thFebruary. He was at home, with wife Barbara and is succeeded by his wife and children Andy and daughter Kathy.
He was a thoroughly good fellow, always willing to give advice and assistance. Although he was a little older than me, we ended our time at Aske’s in the same form, 6th Remove. We were both 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 Lunchand City Diners.
Neville was a skilled rugby player, back row I think. I don’t know for sure whether he played for the School 1st XV, but I do know that during National Service he was selected to play for the Army team.
Together with Barbara he was able to establish what is now a sizeable business being run by son Andrew (Advartex, Screen Printers) This firm was established by Barbara and Neville’s hard work and dedication and has resulted in a busy and sound business.
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 Linkhorns Farmhouse, Ashurst. The Rambling Club will return there this year, with fond memories of a good friend. He is sadly missed by many of us. Dennis Johnson
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.
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.
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.