FUNERAL ADDRESS – Wednesday, 2nd May 2012 By J. David Kennard (Major Retd. Irish Guards – Son)Colin David Kennard, much loved husband, father, step-father, brother, uncle, grandfather, cousin, godfather and good friend. What does one say in just a few minutes about a man who was, at just the age of 23, recommended for a Victoria Cross? Who was this man and what did his life mean? Beneath an endearing modesty, self-deprecating sense of humour, keen sense of fun, was a man of many talents and dimensions. A man who was respected and loved by his friends and family and those he led. He was loved for what he was and what he stood for during his long and full life. I have been moved by the letters sent to me, and they express over and over again “his bravery, inspiration, leadership, fun, modesty, kindness, determination and many other compliments. A close friend wrote, “He had an internal vibrancy and straightforwardness; a genuinely good man – a charming host”.HOME AND EARLY CHILDHOODIn his childhood, he lived in beautiful and interesting homes: Corton Denham in Somerset; the Old Bell House, and Purslow Hall in Shropshire. Early life was idyllic as the second youngest of five rumbustious siblings. Country sports were the main recreation with hunting and shooting being the most popular. Both his father and mother came from large families themselves and so there was no lack of cousins with whom to have fun. He and his younger brother Bob, were often packed off by train with luggage labels attached to their lapels, to stay for weeks on end with their Colfox grandparents and cousins in West Dorset. I even found recently, one of these labels, which described the boys as ‘goods’ to be ‘delivered’ to the Station Master! These halcyon days left my father with an abiding love of West Dorset where he felt completely at home.GROWING UPFor a person blessed with a strong independent streak, life at prep school at Chafyn Grove, Salisbury, and then Radley College, was considered irksome and constricting. His main outlet for frustrations was on the rugger field where his competitive spirit was given full rein. He was always impatient for the holidays, particularly the winter holidays, so that he could go off with his gun and his dog, an assortment of brothers and his father. From reading his game book, it reveals that they managed to go out most days! One particular story comes to mind of this period. His elder brother Michael was a notoriously poor shot. One evening before a day’s shooting, my father and his partner in crime, his younger brother Bob, removed the shot from all of Michael’s cartridges and then refilled them with pheasant feathers. During the first drive the following day, as the duo watched with anticipation, Michael fired, missing a passing pheasant, but to his astonishment and disbelief and to his brothers’ unbridled mirth he was submerged in a deluge of feathers. Gleeful cries of ‘Good Shot’ echoed across the field.From Radley, in 1938, he went up to Christ’s College, Cambridge to read Land Management.WARLike so many of his fellow students, he joined the local territorial regiment on the outbreak of war in 1939, but fearing that he would never see active service, he decided to join the Regular Army, but which regiment? His father’s advice was to join the Grenadier Guards. This was not a good move. He was turned down by that Regiment’s Lieutenant Colonel, partly because his younger brother Bob, had already been accepted by them a few weeks previously. In a moment of inspiration, he sought a recommendation for the Irish Guards – the Micks - instead. As he told us years later, what on earth was he going to say to his father for having been turned down by the Grenadiers? Two or three good friends had already joined the Micks and had not been at all reticent in their disapproval that my father should be considering a rival. In spite of the irregularity of this procedure, the Grenadier Colonel found himself agreeing to this. The subsequent interview with the Micks, was hardly an interview at all, so taken aback were they by his audacity. He was ordered to report to Sandhurst without delay.Like so many of my father’s generation, he rarely talked about the war. One or two amusing anecdotes percolated out during our childhood but he did not dwell on his personal exploits which happen to be well documented. My father was very modest about his achievements, he always believed that many others deserved greater recognition than himself and that so many ‘acts of bravery’ happened because of the accumulated deeds and common endeavour of many. He was one of the lucky ones who survived active service in North Africa, Italy and the advance through Holland and Germany.Amazingly, as a young officer in North Africa, he managed to survive, albeit wounded, a particularly brutal five-day battle on the ‘Bou’, against overwhelming odds where the Battalion was decimated. Of his original Company, only a couple of dozen Irish Guardsmen survived that battle. It was for this action that he was recommended for a Victoria Cross but was awarded an immediate DSO.It was only in recent months that he talked in any detail about these wartime experiences, dwelling somewhat on the utter futility of war and the waste of young life. All his life he mourned especially the loss of two close friends, John Kennedy and George Ismay. It is true to say, that the intense camaraderie born of these events left its mark on those survivors but inculcated an especially strong sense of ‘family’ in the Micks which is nurtured to this day. My father always considered the Micks his Second family and he rarely missed an Irish Guards’ party.However, not all his experiences in North Africa were unpleasant. There is an entry in my Father’s game book for 28th March to 12th April 1943 at Medjez-el-Bob (Tunisia), just before the ‘Battle of the Bou – hills 212 and 214’ - and I quote, “Place: Medjez-el-Bob whilst in front line. Guns: self. Partridges – 15. Hares – 2. Remarks: sport somewhat hampered by heat and proximity of Germans. Birds very tough eating!”POST WAROn demobilisation, like many of his peers, he decided not to return to Cambridge thinking that too much had happened and that he was, at the age of 27, too old. He ended up in the City working for United Glass Bottles. It was a job, but not one that he relished particularly. For relief, he played rugger with passion and commitment for both Wasps and London Irish and was even offered an international trial for Ireland which he turned down as he did not deem himself to be Irish enough! DORSETIn the mid ‘50s he grabbed the opportunity of moving himself and his family, having married my mother Rosemary in 1947, to Dorset to become the Sales Director of Joseph Gundry in Bridport, the largest net making firm in Europe. This got him back to the country and we lived in various houses: Wytherston, Symondsbury with the cousins, and Drimpton, before eventually settling in Litton Cheney where he soon became a stalwart and then leader of the Parish Council.These were happy years and one of my abiding memories is of being dragged round every point to point and racecourse in the West, come rain or shine, following my father’s other passion, the Turf. Picnics galore, put together by our long suffering Mother and, as my sister Clare and I got older, generous quantities of Gin and French of lethal strength were packed into the boot of the car and which were disbursed liberally to our friends along with tips on what to back.He was the most generous of hosts. Whenever I appeared at home, usually accompanied by numerous brother officers from the Mick or Celtic fringe, possessed of powerful thirst and hunger, my mother emptied the fridge and my father the cellar while the washing machine churned away.As my father got older, playing tennis became his twice-weekly activity. He was no mean player and only ceased playing in his 80s! He indulged too, his love of the racehorse by having minor interests in the odd horse, along with Nigel Martin of Came and Joan Turner of Cheselbourne, amongst others. What fun they had following their equine children’s racing progress. In the mid ‘70s, he left Gundrys, to become an independent stockbroker. He was in his element: bringing him into contact with people and looking after their interests, along with using his aptitude for figures. He built up a good business and was pleased when I decided to join him in the mid 80s.LATTER YEARSHis marriage having failed at this time, he married secondly, Hillary, and acquired two stepsons, Edward and Colin. He made his home in Hinton St. George where he was very happy for the last twenty years or so.His increasing years and latterly, arthritis and cancer, were borne with typical stoicism and lack of complaint. As long as he had his gin, his racing, his whisky, his After Eight mints, his hotline to his bookmakers - plural, he was as content as he could be. His last year of life was spent in Abbey View Nursing Home in Sherborne where the care was excellent. He always looked forward to hearing news of, and having visits from, his five grandchildren of whom he was enormously proud.Underpinning his life was his understated acknowledgement of his spirituality. Like most English men of his era, this was worn lightly but I know that he talked with, and to, the Almighty on a daily basis.We loved him dearly, we shall miss him sorely but we know he is in good Hands.QUIS SEPERABIT.
Frank Whillock – Eulogy 25 January 2016 – Deborah & Michael HarleyIntroductionThank you for coming today, some have come some distance. We remember, amongst others, those who cannot be here – granddaughter Sarah and family in Australia, nephew Martin (and Ruth Whillock), niece Janet (in Italy), niece Marion (and David) in Canada, and nephew Gerald (and Hnong) in Thailand, Bob Lay his old friend – each are remembering Frank at this time. Early YearsSiblingsFrank, born in Hornsey, London on the 19thJune 1921, was the youngest of the four children of Caroline and Frederick Whillock. His siblings, Arthur, Ethel and 'Bubbles', have all died and Frank felt that keenly as he became the last one to survive. He said they were like four legs on a chair, as each one died the chair became increasingly wobbly. He'd probably now say that the chair is mended – a typical woodworkers analogy.Ethel and 'Bubbles' used to mother him, while his brother, Arthur, was kind to him and helped him financially through his teacher training. A kindness Frank never forgot.Hard TimesThe family hit hard times when their father, Frederick, was unemployed for about two years around the Depression between the Wars and mother, Caroline, had different jobs to make ends meet. But it was a loving family which compensated, so Frank felt he had a very happy childhood. Little things pleased him-Bubbles ensured that he got his first pocket sewed into his new home-made trousers, of which he was immensely proud (there's a photo of him with his hand stuffed determinately into the pocket of those trousers).War YearsGood WarFrank had barely started his Teacher Training when he was conscripted into the Royal Air Force, working with electronics helping to operate Radar. He served in England, Belgium and Germany. Typically Frank couldn't resist secretly taking photographs over Europe as a souvenir, and he got away with it. Frank always said he had a good war.Leaving his gun behindThere were one or two incidents that he mentioned which were hilarious in hindsight. He went to the theatre in Belgium, and on returning to his Station realised that he had left his Sten Gun under the seat. He had to rush back to the theatre, knock on the side door and retrieve it from the caretaker. Failing to retrieve it would have meant a prison sentence.Prisoner of War guardHe guarded a German Prisoner of War under house arrest in Germany, who had been a war artist. He befriended him and once accepted a social evening alone with him, listening to music and discussing art, deciding it was safe to leave his gun behind in the Station. The artist gave Frank a drawing which is still on a wall. After the war the artist wrote to Frank asking him to set up an exhibition for him in London, but Frank realised it would be immensely unpopular to encourage a German artist in London, so he refused.ConfirmationDuring the war Frank was confirmed in Winchester Cathedral – the Chaplain had arranged for the group of confirmees to be flown down specially for the event. Latterly this link with Winchester amused him because of Mike and Deborah's link with the same Cathedral.Post WarChoice of careersA defining moment for Frank after the war was when he was offered further training as an electronics engineer, but he decided to return to teacher training. He would wonder what would have happened in his life if he had made a different decision.TeachingHe resumed his teacher training and was allowed to continue from where he had left off before the war, this shortened the required training post war which delighted him. Frank became a woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing teacher, thoroughly enjoying teaching and encouraging children in these early years of his career. He was also an accomplished woodworker and joiner, producing many fine pieces of furniture for his home.Family LifeAudrey and girlsAt his first school he met Audrey, who was to become his first wife. They married in 1951, lived in New Southgate, north London, and their daughters were born there - Deborah in 1952 and Diana in 1954.Forgetting the babyHe once took the newly born Deborah to the local shops in her pram, arriving later back home without her. Audrey asked where Deborah was – he had forgotten that he was a new father and had left the baby outside the shops. On rushing back Deborah was still there in her pram - a sign of more trusting and safer times.PatienceDespite the previous incident he was a caring and attentive father. Frank had endless patience, and both Deborah and Diana remember him helping them with their Maths homework, despite their tears of frustration at not being able to understand the subject.Picture FramingFrank has been a picture framer for many decades and had his own business that he ran from the garage, and then the garden shed. Deborah and Diana spent happy hours with him making things out of offcuts of wood. Both remember accompanying him around north London delivering pictures to clients, when he would sing Bing Crosby songs ('In the cool, cool, cool of the evening' being a favourite).Bedtime storiesFrank had a talent for making up bedtime stories initiated by Diana, always with a happy and moral ending. Diana remembers stories about an object that didn't want to do what it was meant to, like 'the light switch that didn't want to switch on', or 'the door knob that didn't want to turn'.Wider familyOver the decades his two sons in law have found Frank to be a great Father-in-Law, very interested in and supportive of what they have done in their careers and lives.Also, Frank's nephews and nieces have very fond and treasured memories of him. They said he was a kind and generous uncle; interested in what each did; fun with a positive attitude towards life; and a good role model.RetiringDuring the 1970's, Audrey's health deteriorated, and Frank realised he needed to retire to care for her. He retired as the Head of the Handicraft Department of Ravenscroft Secondary Modern School in about 1978 - the school was the location for the TV series 'Grange Hill'. By then he was pleased to retire since teaching had become a strain for him, as children in this era were far less respectful and obedient than their predecessors.Litton CheneyA decisive moveFrank and Audrey moved to Litton Cheney in Dorset in 1979. Mrs Smith, Audrey's elderly mother, moved down with them and occupied one of the bedrooms.Village life to the fullFrank threw himself into village life, enjoying every aspect and getting thoroughly involved. He organised the village fete for a few years – Diana remembers the fancy dress competitions, where he dreamt up wonderful topical costumes for himself, such as the 'weather man' one year because of the wet summer, and the 'litter man' during the anti-litter campaign. The Harley grandchildren remember taking part in fancy dress competitions. One year Diana was roped in with her friend, Wendy, to be a judge.Audrey diesSadly Audrey died in 1981, aged 57 years. Frank was left with his Mother-in-Law in the house to care for as she was becoming more dependent, which was a difficult era for him..Hobbies and interestsHe began to take craft lessons in the local Junior School; became a PCC member and was involved in the church; and for thirty years he coordinated Country Cars, a service for taking people to hospital appointments from the local Bride Valley. He enjoyed golf and belonged to the West Bay Golf Club. He also threw himself into music – he started to learn the violin again, to play the guitar and had piano lessons. He became a member of the Bridport Music Centre Orchestra (even playing the violin at the millenium concert in the Albert Hall) and the Dorchester Camarata. He started to go to a local Folk Club, joining in the singing and playing.A New EraBarbaraIt was at a folk club that he and Barbara met some time later, they were married in 1984 and a new era began. During their marriage they ran a business together of antiquarian maps and prints and bric-a-brac. Frank continued picture framing and repairing items for Barbara's shop and stall. They enjoyed knowing the local artists who Frank framed for. They jointly sang in the Bride Valley Choir.Friends and partiesBarbara and Frank made many friends in Litton Cheney, and Frank's 80thand 90thbirthday parties were well attended by both family and numerous friends.The ManPoetryLike many in his generation Frank remembered poetry from his school days, which he had learnt by rote, but in addition he was also known to write poetry himself. One or two of his poems were published, and some found there way into the local magazine. One of his poems is going to be read in this service.Inquisitive mindFrank had a naturally inquisitive and lively mind, almost to the end – he always wanted to learn about things and to understand how things worked. Although the internet was beyond him and he really didn't want to get involved, he nevertheless wanted to try and understand how it worked. He was absolutely amazed that he was actually on the internet – Diana showed him a photograph of him playing the violin on the folk club website.InclusiveAs a person he was very inclusive, sometimes modern in outlook, and often accepted people as they were. But he did have strong opinions and was not afraid to express them.GrandchildrenEnjoymentFrank derived much pleasure from his grandchildren and Sarah, Jo, Fran, Andrew, Erica and Christopher also remember him with great affection and all have their special memories of him. They enjoyed their visits to Frank and Barbara and found their house fascinating..Their reflections•They loved listening to the stories of his life•They felt he was young at heart, warm and enthusiastic•They enjoyed making music with him, and he encouraged their musical endeavours•Fishing in his river•Making things with him from scraps of wood in his shed•Having fun on the local beaches•Being supported in their hobbies and having their achievements framed•In later years finding him interested in and even inspiring their choice of careersGreat GrandchildrenFrank said that he was privileged to meet some of his great grandchildren, and was something that he never thought that he would see. It gave him much pleasure to meet them and place a silver coin in their hand for luck – a family tradition we were told.ConclusionPoor healthAs you know Frank's health has been poor over the last years and Barbara has been a really great support, carer and strength as he has been very confined. He missed terribly not being able to get into his workshop and, even with Barbara's help, he realised that it was time to lay down his tools.Peaceful deathAt the end he died very peacefully and quietly in his own home with Barbara, Deborah, Diana and me around the bed – unfortunately CS was unwell and therefore unable to be with us. It was a good death, and he had his wish to die in his own home.Greatly missedHe will be greatly missed, but there will be many fond memories of him as we commend him to God with thankfulness for such a long and interesting life, and having had the privilege of knowing him.