In many ways, my family and I were very fortunate.
My Dad first had cancer in 2000. He went on to survive multiple fights with several forms of cancer. He had 20 years of absolutely world-class medical treatment from England’s National Health Service.
We had 20 extra years with him, thanks to that treatment, and his own resilience and determination.
Even this year, as his time finally arrived, we were lucky.
My Dad passed in January. His funeral was in February, just as the corona virus panic was starting. I was able to easily fly back-and-forth to say goodbye, and then again to spend time with my family. Even a couple of weeks later, all of that would be vastly more difficult.
I can look back on my time with my Dad and smile. Hopefully that feeling is captured in the eulogy I gave at his funeral.
“In his own quiet way, my Dad never, ever stopped trying to help.
He was feeling sick in the weeks leading up to Christmas last year. One Sunday, he spoke with my mum:
I’m really sick. think we need to go to Accident and Emergency ….. but first … let’s go up to Sheet for the church service.
The reason my Dad wanted to go to Church was to sell copies of a cookbook written by my mum for the Ramblers Club. They were raising money for the Rosemary Foundation who provide in-home hospice care.
That’s how Dad was … even when he was feeling sick, he was keen to be productive and proactive.
He had fluid on his lungs, but he wanted to support my mum, the Ramblers and the Rosemary Foundation.
(By the way, if you want to buy a copy and raise money for Rosemary Foundation, please see my mum afterwards.)
Dad was born in Somerset, in the final years of World War 2.
His father owned a construction company and his mother was a teacher. Dad was very close to his cousin, who was also called David. To tell the boys apart, his mother’s family started calling my Dad by his middle name, Philip. So you may well hear people refer to him as Philip today.
In his youth, Dad was a football fanatic.
Dad was good enough to play left-back for Yeovil Town. At that time, and still today, Yeovil played at a very high standard. In the years Dad was involved, they were among the very best teams in non-league football.
When he went to university, Dad wrote a 160 page thesis on football tactics and how English players could improve. Dad talked with many of the coaches working with the English national team. This thesis was published in 1965 and the next year England won the World Cup … I don’t think that was a coincidence!
In fact, Dad had tickets for all of England’s games in the World Cup. He was at Wembley stadium for the 1966 World Cup Final and he saw England lift the trophy.
Dad loved sports of all kinds. After graduating from Loughborough University, Dad worked as a P.E. teacher. He earned teaching qualifications in football, swimming, rugby, cricket, archery, basketball, sailing, and probably some more that I’ve missed as well.
He taught cricket to Ian Botham! In 1988, Dad appeared on a TV show called “Classmates” where famous people reconnected with their teachers and their school-friends. Ian Botham remembered Dad’s enthusiasm, and his willingness to run after-school sports clubs every night of the week.
After several years as a P.E. teacher, Dad also qualified as a Maths teacher and this led him to move his family to Petersfield because Dad was appointed Head of Maths at The Petersfield School (TPS).
He worked at TPS for 12 years, reorganising the department and making a lasting, positive impression on many pupils. Even two decades after he retired from TPS he was still meeting students who thanked him for his positive influence on their life.
Dad was a very good teacher, but retirement really suited him. He enjoyed 20 years of retirement.
Dad became a part-time private Maths tutor. His continued passion for teaching gave him a purpose and a focus. He was always keen to pass on his love of Maths to his students. Often he would give extra lessons free before a pupil was taking an exam.
A few days after Dad passed, while we were still grieving, we had a very excited voicemail from a mother. Dad had been tutoring her two sons. The lady was super-excited because, thanks to Dad’s guidance, the older brother had improved enough to pass his Maths GSCE.
So Dad kept on teaching and helping students, but he also focused on becoming deeply involved in organizations around Petersfield. Thank you all for coming to honour my Dad, today. You are part of so many groups that were important to him: The Petersfield School, the Ramblers Club, Sheet Church, Age Concern, Lunch Club, table tennis, the allotment association, and multiple other places where he was active.
Dad lived a long and rich family life. He was married to Lynne for over 40 years. Their 43rd wedding anniversary was yesterday. He met Lynne when they were teaching together in Reading. Dad spoke at the weddings of their three children and saw all of them bring grandchildren into the world.
Dad was quietly spoken and unassuming, but had a gentle charisma and was determined to help people around him.
My Dad was, and will remain, a deeply loved cornerstone of our family, and the Petersfield community.
Please remember my Dad with a smile today.”