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Peter Smith (1943-2019)

This obituary is based on the eulogy delivered by Peter’s family, friends and a humanist celebrant at his funeral on 29 January 2020

Peter was hospitable, welcoming, and loved chatting with anyone about anything – often becoming a world expert in two minutes! He was always inclusive and focussed on the person he was talking with as he had such a genuine interest in people. In addition to Stoke City and Welsh Rugby, one of his great passions in life was to help others, whether with his time or his practical and emotional support. He was tenacious in supporting friends through employment disputes and acted more as a ‘helper’ when attending Alzheimer’s Society activities in recent years. As one friend said, ‘he always thought of others, and nothing was too much for him.’

Born in 1943 in Market Drayton, Shropshire, just on the English side of the border, Peter was the second of four children. His family were from South Wales valleys coal mining stock. He inherited his deeply connected roots in Welsh socialism from his father Mel, one of ten children, who crossed the border in the 1930s in search of work.

Peter was obviously bright. He read Politics and Economics at Keele University and while there met his Hilary, his wife of 50 years. After Keele, Peter and Hilary both did postgraduate research, Hilary at Keele and Peter at Manchester (from where he would ride his Lambretta scooter, balancing a big saucepan of curry down between his feet that had been cooked with his next-door neighbour Sayed). They married in 1968 and lived in the village of Audlem, Cheshire, before moving south for work reasons.

Peter and Hilary graduate together at Keele

Peter began work as a lecturer in government and politics at Reading University, before moving on to a varied and stimulating career. From the Commission on Industrial Relations, he became Head of Research for a civil service trade union, spent a few years on the management side at British Airways, then with relief moved back to the trade union side of the table, rising to become Deputy General Secretary of the airline pilots’ union. Here he specialised in legal and pensions work, while also serving for many years on the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

In time, when Alex was born in 1982 and Jo in 1984, Peter revelled in being a father and dearly loved his daughters. He was immensely proud of their musical abilities, casting himself as the least musical member of the family. He took great pride in seeing both daughters successfully become NHS doctors and marry happily, performing a memorable duet with Jo’s new father-in-law at Jo and Luke’s Sri Lankan wedding. He was delighted to become a grandfather when ‘Tommy Rosh’ was born.

It’s an understatement to say that Peter was highly gregarious: he had a real gift for friendship. In addition to his long membership of CMVC, he sang with the London Welsh Rugby MVC and was a regular at pub jazz evenings and at Croydon Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘Singing for the Brain’. In recent years, he was also active in the South-East Cancer Help Centre’s drama group – his first session there a forced choice between trying drama or joining Hilary for a trip around Tesco’s. He loved his real ale too and was an active member of the Croydon Real Ale Protection Society, affectionately known as the ‘CRAPpers’. Combining this with his love of hiking, in 2009 he and Crapper friend Bob Steel jointly founded the six-monthly Ale Trails breaks – no prizes for guessing what was involved there.

Peter arrives in Paris in 2010 after charity cycle ride from London

A strong recurring theme in the cards we received was how brave and inspirational Peter was in the face of significant challenges, living life to the full and not letting anything hold him back. Despite his diagnoses with cancer in 2009 and Alzheimer’s in 2013, he retained an indomitable spirit, a strong can-do attitude and an amazingly positive outlook on life. This was shown most clearly by his ambitious cycle rides raising thousands for charity – perhaps most of all, with Hilary’s firm support, his latest Velodrome challenge at a time when he could barely walk.

Peter’s generosity, courage and determination went along with no small amount of stubbornness, demonstrated both in his work – such as the minority tribunal judgments he wrote, often supported in higher courts – and in his personal life, as illustrated by the postcard on his study door: ‘Be reasonable – do it my way’. This strength of character served him well for his life-long dedication to social justice and sticking up for the underdog. His regular self-identification as a rebel (often taking a contrary position to everyone else) was reflected in the pride he took in being naughty and embarrassing his daughters. He always had a ‘twinkle in his eye’ and a wonderful sense of humour – usually somewhat irreverent.

Friends have spoken of Peter’s ‘infectious enthusiasm for life’ and his ‘unforgettable ability to light up a room’. We will always remember him as full of optimism, smiles and laughter, often with a beer in hand. In the words of a dear friend ‘He liked the world, laughed at it… and raised another glass!’.

Ted Mouat (1928-2022) 

This tribute to Ted was written by his daughter Lindsey Alexander and read out by her at his funeral at Croydon Crematorium on 31 May 2022 

Dad was born in Hull to Edward and Margaret, their only child, in 1928.  His father was born in Shetland and was a carpenter in the merchant navy; his mother was born in Ardgour on the west coast of Scotland. Unusually, for 120 years ago, on leaving school, she went to Edinburgh and secured work as a typist for a building firm and was financially self supporting. Unfortunately, as the youngest, and only unmarried daughter of three, she had to return to undertake the role of housekeeper to one of her un-married brothers, Alec, who had secured the position of lighthouse keeper at Ardnamurchan which is the most westerly point on the British Mainland. Fortunately, upon their moving to Durness lighthouse at Cape Wrath, (the most north-westerly point on the mainland) and despite being ten miles from the nearest village, my grandparents met and married.  Alec also met the lady who would become his wife.

Dad was hugely proud of his Scottish heritage and it was obviously the background to his life.

Dad, with his mother, spent from around 1940 on the Isle of Mull, their home in Hull having been bombed, his father was at sea. They lived out the rest of the war with family, including his own grandmother, in the Mishnish Hotel in Tobermory owned by a cousin. Mull is a beautiful island in the Hebrides which offered a glorious and serene environment surrounded by family.

All was not however plain sailing, his father, as a merchant seaman, was regularly involved in the North Atlantic convoys. In January 1942, whilst Dad and his Mum were at the cinema his mother was called out to be informed that her husband’s ship had been torpedoed and sunk, and there was no news of survivors. Fortunately, my Granddad, along with some of his fellow sailors and  the ship’s cat, made it to a life raft. After several days at sea in bitterly cold and dangerous conditions they made it to an abandoned vessel, from which they were eventually rescued. For his part in the exercise Granddad was awarded the BEM.

Ted photographed in his 60s

Shortly after the war Dad and Grandma returned to Hull, Granddad again away at sea. Their home, which was rented, was extremely modest, close to the docks with no bathroom. The toilet was in the garden, which as kids, David and I found novel and rather fun to visit. Dad secured a place at the grammar school, and went on to undertake his National Service in Aden and Palestine, which he continued to look back on with fond memories. Upon discharge he spent a year at the University of Edinburgh studying geography. That set a bit of a trend as both my boys and I studied geography in our degree courses. After a year Dad sat the Civil Service exams and joined HM Customs and Excise, for whom he would work until retirement at 60.

Dad met Irene, David’s and my Mum, through the Scots Society in Hull and the Saturday night Scottish country dancing. They married, buying their first home in Hull, where I was born, and spending a short time in Sheffield, where David was born, before moving to Edinburgh when we were both very young.

As part of Dad’s role with Customs and Excise he was required to visit distilleries and breweries in Scotland to check they were paying the correct duty on the alcohol. This meant that most summers, as a family, we would spend a week or so with Dad, whilst he worked in beautiful places such as Dufftown in the North East, and the Isle of Islay. At a young age David and I gained a good working knowledge of the distilling process, wasted on me as I loathe whisky, David however enjoys good malt.

We also enjoyed road trips in Europe. Dad loved to drive and we variously visited Sweden and Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and France, driving hundreds if not thousands of miles. There was always much excitement in the build-up; we would receive the route, usually mapped out by a thick red line on a series of maps prepared by the RAC. This was before the age of GPS, which made navigation quite tricky, and, arguably, far more exciting.

Dad’s work as a Civil Servant inevitably meant that promotion necessitated work in London. For the last three years or so whilst we lived in Edinburgh Dad commuted to London weekly, returning on a Friday after school. This inevitably placed great strain on the family, and his marriage.

I went to university in Aberdeen, David and Mum moved to Croydon with Dad to try and repair the strained bonds. However, this was not to be and after a few years our parents divorced.

Enter a new chapter in Dad’s life, he met Lyn. They married and I know Dad was again very happy. He was married to Lyn for 35 years and for the majority of that time they lived in their idyllic cottage with its pretty garden in Kenley.

Ted does a turn at the 2010 choir social

Dad retired from the Civil Service shortly after marrying Lyn, but he continued to spend another 10 years or so working on a consultancy basis on projects funded by the World Bank. With his knowledge of VAT issues he was able to advise on establishing similar taxation structures in developing countries. Dad spent long periods over several years in The Gambia, Bangladesh & Afghanistan as well as Russia and Zambia with Lyn accompanying him.

He was also posted to Georgia, Iraq, Kosovo & Tanzania. They shared some great experiences, from hashing through the paddy fields in Bangladesh to being in Moscow in 1993 when Boris Yeltsin sought to wrest power from parliament by force which included street fighting. Dad also encountered danger whilst in both Iraq, living in an armed compound, and in Afghanistan where he would return to his hotel from work via corridors of sandbags with machine gun fire frequently to be heard in the background.

When he finally “retired for good” he had time to pursue his artistic interests, sketching, and watercolour painting, singing and, not altogether as well received, playing the bagpipes.   Some of his artwork will be on show this afternoon; he enjoyed attending classes to improve his skill and built up a veritable portfolio.

I recall on one occasion he brought his bagpipes to show his grandsons who were quite young. He asked them what they thought they were made of, hoping to explain the traditional skills involved in making a set, but the reply he received was “a picnic rug and some wood” - not what he was hoping for. The pipes accompanied him when he was abroad; in The Gambia he practised on the beach, usually with a string of curious local children following along behind.

His love of music led him to join the Croydon Male Voice Choir. He wasn’t necessarily the best singer, but thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie. As Dad’s mobility deteriorated several friends from the choir were extremely supportive, picking him up to take him to the weekly rehearsals and helping with tasks at home. He also enjoyed attending the Proms with a fellow choir member. Thank you to the choir members who have come along today to sing.

Dad was also a member of the Croydon Ramblers, enjoying the opportunity of an excursion out of Croydon involving a walk, a chat, and a pub lunch.  He also took part in the choir’s walking group outings.  Over the final years his mobility unfortunately prevented him attending the walking bit… but he still regularly turned up for the chat and the pub lunch.

Dad was an avid reader of a wide range of books including military history, Scottish crime novels and autobiographies. He enjoyed his Kindle which, although a great tool, caused him much frustration when he inadvertently altered the settings. His neighbour was frequently called upon to sort it out.

Scotland was deeply ingrained in Dad giving rise to his regular trips there. Painting in his favourite places on Mull, visiting family and, whilst in Edinburgh,  attending the Book and International Festivals usually culminating in an evening watching the pipe bands at the Edinburgh Tattoo. It is fitting that he will be returned to Scotland.

Neville Clark  8 February 1951 - 5 January 2022

This tribute to long-time choir stalwart Nev Clark was written by his son Daniel and read out by the celebrant at Nev's funeral on 10 February 2022.

Nev in typical singing mode

Neville Clark, born in the front room of the family home at West Terrace, West Cornforth, County Durham 8th February 1951.

Mother, Elizabeth May, a stay-at-home mum, and Father, Ralph Rogerson, an underground engineer in the mines and a master carpenter.

His mother was 48 when she gave birth to Neville, having a baby later in life was very traumatic for her, and she sadly passed away when Neville was only 6 months old.

Neville was left with his father and two older sisters to care for him. Elsie, the oldest, was 22 years old when he was born, and gave up her job to raise her younger brother. Avril was only 8 years old.

Neville's father remarried Jenny Scott when he was 4 years old. Neville's earliest memory of this period was embroidering a tray cloth for his new stepmother Jenny, when he tried to present the tray cloth, he realised he had sewn it to his own shorts…his embroidery skills didn't improve much.

Neville joined the RAF in 1967, at 16 years old, to get away from his turbulent relationship with his stepmother. He joined the 210th Entry of Craft Apprentices out of RAF Locking. During his short time at RAF Locking Neville made some lifelong friends, most notably Keith Meyers, and developed a keen passion for boxing, described as a boxer with an amazingly strong punch and fantastic movement, he become the RAF Wakefield champion in 1968 at their annual boxing championship. They'll be more RAF based anecdotes later.

Realising they didn't want to serve the mandatory 16 years after their apprenticeship was finished, Neville and Keith deliberately failed their exams two years in a row, leaving the RAF in 1969. The pair relocated to Bath, where Neville became the surrogate son of Keith's mother. He affectionately referred to her as Mum Meyers. During his time in Bath Neville had numerous jobs such as a bar man and a petrol pump attendant.

Neville was 19 years old when he received news of his father's passing.

In late 1973 Neville relocated to London and opened a sandwich bar outside Thornton Heath station. This venture didn't last long. Those of you who know Neville, will know he isn't famed for his culinary expertise. Ask Sheila, Michael, and Daniel about his infamous watery vegetable broth in the bar later!

In 1974 he was working as a bouncer at Cinatra's club in Broad Green, West Croydon where he met his future wife. Sheila who was on a night out with her Auntie Dora. Ever the gentleman Neville helped the stranded Sheila find a taxi home, the pair got chatting while waiting for the taxi. After Sheila was safe in her taxi Neville apparently said to a colleague "I'm going to marry that woman".

This statement proved correct, after a short courtship Neville and Sheila married on 7th June 1975 at St. Giles Parish Church, Camberwell Green. After which they moved into their first marital home, 60 Ansdell Road, Nunhead, Peckham.

Neville worked for Lord John men’s and ladies wear in Regent Street. In 1976 the couple relocated to Exeter, where Neville was to open and manage a new Lord John men’s and ladies wear store.

Their stay in Exeter didn't last long and they were soon back in London in 1977, without a home they moved into Sheila's family home in Peckham.

In 1978 they discovered Sheila was pregnant with their first child, and soon found a new home in Edith Court, Radcliffe Road, Croydon. In February 1979 their first son, Daniel Ralph was born at Kings College Hospital. It was at this time that Neville was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Not wasting any time, the couple soon discovered Sheila was pregnant again, and in September 1980 their second son, Michael Laurence was born at Mayday Hospital Croydon.

Neville decided to leave the retail industry, settling on a new career as an estate agent, I know don't hold it against him. He opened his first estate agent with a business partner, Ralph Lawrence, in Streatham in 1982. Followed by Dawson's & First Timers in South Croydon.

Wanting to be in charge of his own destiny, Neville was soon opening a new estate agent under the banner Clark & Co in Streatham. Having learned from his previous business adventures, Clark & Co became a successful agent, opening a second branch in Sydenham.

However successful, Neville couldn't predict the plans for a new bypass through Streatham, causing a downturn in sales. This put a lot of strain on the business, quickly followed by the recession of 1991 meant that Clark & Co unfortunately went under.

Although Neville no longer owned his own estate agency, he remained in the property industry, working for Stuart Edwards estate agents in Croydon, before moving into social housing. Neville worked for a number of housing associations, before finishing his career as a cyclical manager and property surveyor for Croydon Council. COVID 19 and the diagnosis of Alzheimer's forced Neville into retirement.

Neville's main passion was singing. He was a boy soprano at school in West Cornforth, and carried on his passion throughout his life.

He joined the Croydon Male Voice Choir in 1985 and made lifelong friends in Gerry Unjohn and Dick Diplock. The three over the years would often deliberate after rehearsals, drinking into the early hours, often referring to their late-night chats as the midnight debating society.

Nev (right) with CMVC colleagues John Marshall and Gerry Upjohn when the choir sang at the opening of the Dartford Queen Elizabeth Bridge in 1991

Neville and the CMVC would take part in some prestigious concerts around the UK, such as Canterbury Cathedral, the mass choir concerts at Fairfield Halls, even singing for the queen at the opening of the Thames Crossing in Dartford.

Neville often conducted and arranged the choir après concerts in the bar after the main event, and could be said took these more seriously than the actual concert…

Neville was also part of Malcolm Sergeant Festival Choir, singing in further prestigious concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, in front of the late Princess Diana, and the Sydney Exhibition Centre during a tour of Australia in 1988.

Neville was also part of the amateur Croydon Operatic society, taking part in the performance of Turandot at Fairfield Halls. And even after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, he regularly joined “sing for the brain”, a choir group for Alzheimer’s sufferers.

His only claim to fame was having written the official copyrighted lyrics to the Dambusters theme, which were recognised and endorsed by the family of the original composer.

It was during a CMVC concert that Neville's health took a turn for the worse. In the summer of 1995, he had a heart attack during a concert at a care home at the age of 44.

Neville sadly had a further heart attack in the autumn of the following year while decorating. Always the proud man he was conscious of smelling, so he had a bath while having a heart attack so he would smell nice for the ambulance crew, and go to hospital clean.

Initially taken to Mayday Hospital in Croydon, Neville was then transferred to St. Georges Hospital, where he eventually had quadruple bypass surgery. He was in hospital for six weeks before eventually being discharged home.

It was Neville's heart problems, along with Diabetes complications, that ultimately and prematurely took his life after a three-month illness.

To say his larger-than-life personality will be missed is an understatement.



Keith Sandland   

10 June 1934 - 9 December 2021

Keith was born in Rotherham and was a typical Yorkshire man. He left Rotherham in his teens to move to Exmouth with his father Tom, helping him run a pub. But that was way too boring for Keith, so at the age of 18 he decided to join the military and served in Malaysia during the Malayan Emergency. Fighting communists and all those jungle creepy crawlies was much more exciting for Keith than serving beer in Devon!

Keith joined CMVC in 2007

When Keith returned from Malaysia, he moved to London and tried out various jobs. His father Tom had remarried and now had an Italian wife, Amelia.  Just for something to do, Keith started learning Italian in evening classes.

Tom, Amelia and Keith decided to visit Amelia’s family in Italy. It so happened that Amelia had a 17 year old cousin called Rita. Keith immediately fell in love with her and, on his return to London, Rita became his pen-pal. She, at that stage, was far from convinced it was anything more.

A year or so later Keith plucked up the courage to ask Rita’s father if they could marry. Rita’s father was even less convinced than Rita. He insisted Keith should have a proper job and home before he would agree to his daughter taking such a step and moving to London.

So Keith worked night and day with British Telecom to save up for a home.  After another couple of years he had progressed in the job and had purchased a maisonette in Coulsdon. Both Rita and her father then became convinced Keith was serious, with serious prospects. In 1966, Rita and Keith married.

Over the years, Keith worked his way up from being an operator to an important management role in British Telecom International. This was all as a result of the dedication initially prompted by his love for Rita.

Apart from Rita, Keith’s passions were singing, bowling and playing bridge. He was so very well liked by the members of all the clubs he joined.  He joined Croydon Male Voice Choir in 2007 and proved to be a powerful and accomplished baritone for 10 years until his ill health forced his retirement.  Rita became one of the choir’s most enthusiastic supporters, not only leading the applause in every concert but also working hard behind the scenes in activities such as selling choir CDs.

Keith grins as George apparently squares up for a fight - photo taken at recording session in 2012

Keith loved singing so much that, outside of the choir, he would lead the singing of hymns in his church, first at St Theresa`s in Biggin Hill and later at St Columba’s, accompanied by the brilliant Tony at the organ. And he would always have the biggest smile when doing so.

Keith bowled at the Croydon Adults Bowling Club, and became one of their best players. He was also the club`s secretary and was honoured with the “Surrey Leopard Award”, given for contributions to the life and well-being of the club over many years. It was hard for him to give up his bowling due to ill health.   Keith was a keen bridge player for the South Croydon Bridge Club. When the travelling got too much, he began to play online. He continued to do so for as long as he could, up until 31 July last year.

But family was always the most important part of Keith’s life.  He was very proud of his girls Francesca and Elena, especially their education, career success, and their caring and thoughtful manner. He was then proud of his granddaughter Shelby and of his great grandson Riley, who never failed to make him smile.  He never stopped talking to Francesca and Elena about his adventures in the Malaysian jungle with all its creepy crawlies. And then to Shelby too, who was fortunately interested and fascinated by it all. She learned such a lot from her grandfather.

After 55 years of marriage, Keith and Rita were still so much in love. Francesca always asked what their secret was! However after nearly 50 years visiting Rita’s home town in Italy, Keith thought it time to take Rita further afield. After his retirement they took trips to California and around Europe as well as a number of cruises.

Keith had a brilliant, adventurous life with Rita and loved his girls Francesca and Elena, as well of course Shelby and Riley.   They and all his many friends will miss him so much.

This tribute to Keith was delivered at his funeral at St Columba's, Selsdon, on 18 January 2022


Paul Haskey (1942-2018)

This eulogy for Paul Haskey was delivered at his funeral on 19 March by his son Simon.

My father was born on 14th April 1942 in Keighley, West Yorkshire. At the time of his birth his father – my grandfather – was away in the Royal Navy fighting the War in the Far East. So Dad was two and a half years old when he met his father for the first time, coming home at Keighley railway station.

Dad spent his first few years with his mother and grandmother, and Aunty Irene and Uncle Jim, all in the same house. He was taught to read and write by the ladies and his lifelong love of sport came from Uncle Jimmy who taught him football and cricket. After his father left the navy in 1946, the family were given the keys to the first purpose-built prefab in Ingrow. Two years later, in 1948, his sister Lesley was born.

Dad went to the local Ingrow primary school and showed early academic promise. He duly passed the 11+ exam to win a place at Keighley Boys grammar school. Academically he went from strength to strength and was one of the top achievers at the school.  He was also captain of the rugby first XV. The local newspaper even printed a caricature of him when his team were joint winners of the Ingrow Sevens Tournament; 42 teams from across Yorkshire and Lancashire competed. 

When it came to sixth form choices he wanted to pursue languages, as this was his best subject, but the school was keen for him to continue studying the sciences. He continued to excel in science and then spent an additional year preparing for S-level exams in the hope of securing a place at one of the Oxbridge colleges.

He was successful and was awarded a place at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge, going up in the autumn of 1961 to read for an Honours Degree in Natural Sciences.

I am told that he was a conscientious, hardworking undergraduate who was an example to those with whom he shared rooms in the college. While he undertook many hours of solitary study, he relaxed by playing bridge and the guitar, and rugby for his college.  At weekends Dad spent many an hour in the college buttery. When he exclaimed to his friends he felt like a King, they promptly gave him the nickname ‘the King’, which stuck with him throughout his college years.   Over the years Dad supported his college and regularly attended reunions at Caius.

Dad graduated from Cambridge in 1964 and decided to pursue a career in the oil industry, specifically oil exploration. He moved south and joined Seismograph in Keston as a graduate trainee.  He spent the first few years in the field abroad in Africa, including Nigeria, Mozambique (where he learned to speak Portuguese), Angola and South Africa.

Paul on his first overseas assignment, Nigeria in the 1960s

One crew used helicopters to travel from camp to the line. Dad said that the early morning flights after a festive evening were not the most enjoyable, particularly as the pilot wasn’t particularly careful about the sensitivities of his passengers. On one trip Dad had to lean out of the airborne helicopter ‘super hero style’ and use a machete to chop off a rope carrying the boat below when it became entangled with the back helicopter blade.

While living there he had several close encounters with the local wildlife, including a crocodile (which luckily ran the other way), and a black mamba falling on him from a tree. He adopted a baby owl and later a monkey that he had found abandoned in the bush. In 1967/68 he took a year out to complete an Msc at UMIST in electrical engineering

My parents met when Dad was living near Downe as mum was also working at Seismograph; this was the start of a successful and supportive long-term partnership.

Mum and Dad got married in 1970 and I was born two years later while Dad was working for his last extensive period abroad, in Oman. On returning to England in early 1973, my parents  first bought a house in Biggin Hill, then bought a cottage in Keston Avenue two years later. My twin brothers Edward and Alex followed soon after that.

My father continued to pursue his career in the oil industry and from 1973 worked for several iterations of a new start-up company.  Based in Victoria, then in Bromley, it  eventually become Horizon, locating to Swanley in 1975. Ultimately he became director of research, but finished his career with Scott Pickford in Croydon.  He was recognised internationally as an expert in seismic processing, particularly in the fields of imaging and inversion.

Dad always had an active leisure and social life outside of work. When we were young I remember a significant amount of time travelling around during the holidays with windsurfers on the car roof. On one notable occasion we managed to lose a sail on the notorious M25 and had the police help us retrieve it before it unravelled across the whole motorway.

In more recent years he was an active member of the Ravensbourne Morris, a keen walker and sang with the Croydon Male Voice Choir.  He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.

Paul with fellow choir-members at  Greenwich in 2017

One such walking group formed with his friends, known as the Radox Ramblers, christened Dad ‘the Weatherman’ due to his uncanny ability to ensure that the rain stayed away. Water, ironically, featured in one dramatic instance when John Jackson (a fellow Yorkshireman) fell into a canal in Exeter when stepping from a canoe on to the quay. The group rushed forward to offer John assistance and ask how he was. Dad’s contribution was different.  "Is your wallet OK, John?" he asked. To which John replied: "Yes, thank you, there speaks a true Yorkshireman!"

Other friends remember the occasion at the annual Haskey Christmas party, when, to everyone’s astonishment, he produced a huge piano accordion, lent back, and with his fingers flashing across the buttons and keys, played a gypsy piece perfectly and with great gusto.

I have also had it confirmed that Dad never spoke ill of anyone and was very generous.  His breadth of knowledge was amazing and he spoke with authority on subjects from Plato to the planets.

His final few years were spent combining an active life with a barrage of chemotherapy and blood transfusions which he bore with incredible fortitude.  He will be sorely missed by his family, many groups of friends and colleagues as we can see here amongst us today.

I personally will miss his level-headed counsel and a drink or two at the Greyhound on a summer’s evening.

Memories of Ian Martin (1947-2017)

By Dave Bannister

I first met Ian in 1975 as the new master in charge of my Under 16 rugby team at Caterham School. Who was this slightly built bookish-looking economics teacher with glasses and curious Scouse accent? What does he know about rugby? How dare he move me, this athletic Number 8, into the second row where all they do is push in the scrum? However we were soon to find out how good Ian was, as in those days pupils versus staff matches were allowed - ideal opportunities for pupils and staff to exact revenge on each other. We watched many so-called “hard” sixth formers getting absolutely mullahed every time they tried to run past or through the diminutive Ian.

Ian at Sandilands in 2015

Ian was born in Birkenhead on 15 September 1947.  His father Alec had been a teacher but this never seemed likely to be Ian’s long term career. Although super-organised, a great communicator and dedicated to his charges, patience wasn’t his strong suit.  It was no surprise that shortly after I left school, Ian changed career to work for Christie and Co as a commercial property valuer. Over the years we used to enjoy his stories about his hard life visiting and trying out luxury hotels in exotic locations. Once in North Africa, Masterchef was being filmed at the hotel he was valuing and he was one of the diners required to sample the contestants’ offerings. The clip of Ian uttering “The lamb was delicious” on prime time TV was soon circulating round his many friends.

Rugby was Ian’s real passion and he played it to an exceptional standard. He went up to Christ’s College Cambridge in 1967 and played many times for the university against first class opposition. He would surely have got a blue but for two problems. One was the fact that there were only fifteen in the squad in those days as no subs were allowed. The other problem was that a certain Gerald Davies was occupying Ian’s position at centre.

Having failed to get a Cambridge blue, Ian was creative: he moved to Oxford to do his teaching qualification. Unfortunately, although again playing for the university, he didn’t get a blue there either!

Ian’s first teaching post was in 1971 at Bedford School where he joined Bedford Rugby Club, which at that time played at the top level. In 1975, he moved to set up a new economics department at Caterham School. He joined Purley, the local rugby club, thereby meeting his future fellow choristers Ralph Osborne, Martin Perkins and the late Mansel Barnes.

Ian’s quality and leadership were soon recognised and he was elected captain for the 1977 season. The club benefited enormously from the pupils and staff from Caterham School who followed him and joined Purley. Although he stood down after one season as captain he was soon elected club secretary. During this time he organised a number of tours including to his brother’s club in Garches, near Paris.

The tour to Valencia in Spain allowed him to demonstrate his lifelong penchant for nicknames as Ian (aka Senor Citizen) produced a tour programme with every player allocated an appropriate alias. El Bo, El Onnerth, El Owello, Juan Tumenni, Don Payin and Muchos Pesetas are just a few examples.

Ian’s last game of rugby was on the Lions tour to Australia in 2001 where he got up early after the Melbourne test and turned out for a former Purley member’s local club. Martin Perkins and I were on that tour but were nursing hangovers in bed, missing the game but arriving for the beer afterwards. Ian was proud to say he had then played rugby in six decades since his debut at Birkenhead School in 1959.

Ian took up skiing in his early 40s, which is relatively late in life. This accounted for his unique style, so different from the classical elegance of his offspring Emma, Andrew and Jeremy. In his funeral eulogy Ian’s brother Chris likened the style to that of a defecating dog.  Ian came to love skiing and organised expeditions all over Europe and further afield to Chile, Argentina and Canada. I and many others benefited so much from his organisation and leadership on these tours and all the fun that we had.

Ian was a choir supporter and came to our concerts for many years. Having heard him sing (tunefully!) at rugby and skiing for nearly 40 years, I finally persuaded him to join as a singing member in 2013. He loved the camaraderie of the choir: its rehearsals mirrored rugby training, concerts mirrored matches and of course the celebrations in the pub afterwards were even better than rugby as the singing was more accomplished. There were even tours with all the fun and games he enjoyed so much.

From his youth Ian had been a great fan of the Irish tenor Josef Locke.  Following his death on 22 September, it was poignant and appropriate that the huge crowd streamed out of Mortlake crematorium to the strains of Joe Locke’s “I wish you all a last Goodbye...”

By Dave Bannister 

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