Frank Whillock – Eulogy 25 January 2016 – Deborah & Michael Harley Introduction Thank   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 Years Siblings Frank,   born   in   Hornsey,   London   on   the   19 th    June   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 Times The   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 Years Good War Frank   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 behind There   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 guard He   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. Confirmation During   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 War Choice of careers A   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. Teaching He   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 Life Audrey and girls At   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 baby He   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. Patience Despite   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 Framing Frank   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 stories Frank   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 family Over   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. Retiring During   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 Cheney A decisive move Frank   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 full Frank   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 dies Sadly 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 interests He   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 Era Barbara It   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 parties Barbara   and   Frank   made   many   friends   in   Litton   Cheney,   and   Frank's   80 th    and   90 th    birthday   parties   were   well   attended   by   both family and numerous friends. The Man Poetry Like   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 mind Frank   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. Inclusive As   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. Grandchildren Enjoyment Frank   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 careers Great Grandchildren Frank   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. Conclusion Poor health As   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 death At   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 missed He   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.
The following address was given by Anthony Nicholson at a celebration of Nancy’s life in St Mary and St Catherine Church Bridport on Friday the 12th of September 2014. To enjoy Nancy’s friendship was to experience her great kind-heartedness and her sense of fun.  It is my privilege today to share with you, on their behalf, some of her beloved family’s treasured memories of her. Nancy came from Malta with her mother and two brothers when she was 3 years old and the family settled in Bristol.  Her father was in the Navy and was away for long periods of time.  It was during one of these absences, in the last war, that their house received a direct hit in one of the many air raids suffered by Bristol.  At the time the family were taking cover in the cupboard under the stairs.  The house was completely destroyed but, miraculously, they all survived to be dug out in the morning, covered in dust but completely unharmed.  Even Chummy the dog suffered only a burn on his paw. Alex met Nancy soon after the war when she was working at the Gaumont Cinema, as an usherette.  He had gone see a film called “A Hundred Men and a Girl” starring Deanna Durbin but in the interval he saw a far more beautiful girl than the one starring in the picture.  Picked out under a spotlight and looking wonderful was Nancy selling ice-cream.  He immediately left his seat, spent sixpence on an ice-cream and fell in love.  When he returned to his seat, he told his mate “I’ve just seen the girl that I’m going to marry” - and so they did.  That six penny worth must be the best investment that Alex ever made.  After 58 years of marriage, on the 2nd September 2014, Alex had to say goodbye to his beautiful wife.  He will miss her more than words can say. Both Ann and Georgina have so many happy memories of their mother.  One of Ann’s earliest memories was when her Mummy and Daddy were off out on a Saturday evening and Nancy would come into the bedroom to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight.  She would look up and see her beautiful and glamorous mother.  The scent of Chanel No.5 would followed Nancy out of the room. She always made Ann feel warm, safe, and very, very loved.  Georgina recollects one day running home up Gibbet Lane from the school bus in the summer.  She was running because she could not wait to see her mother.  Nancy was always there waiting for the girls to come home. They would sit on the terrace drinking lemonade and Nancy would tell them what she had done that day, watching Wimbledon, doing the garden.  Nancy always loved flowers and took great care of her garden.  She would cook them a delicious dinner and they would tell her what they had done at school and wait for Daddy to come home.  Georgina remembers thinking that day, “how awful it must be, not to have a mother exactly like mine”.  As she grew up, that thought always stayed with her. Nancy was stunning and very careful about her appearance.  However she could never be described as vain and would far rather spend money on her daughters than herself.  They remember that on a family holiday to Malta, Nancy wore a peach two-piece suit with a matching pill box hat.  Watching her going up the steps of the BOAC plane, they were reminded of Jackie Kennedy boarding Airforce One. Later on, when Ann and Georgina attended Drama College in London, Alex and Nancy gave them their complete and unqualified support, even though they knew them to be joining a very unpredictable profession - they just wanted them to be happy.  Nancy was always very proud of their successes and attended most of their performances. In 2003, when her Grandson Arthur was born, her life was complete.  She loved him more than it seemed possible to love anyone.  The girls joked that she loved him more than them, but that is an accusation, I suspect, that most grandmothers have faced.  Even when she became ill she spoke about him daily and was so happy to see him.  Arthur in turn was wonderful with her - showering her with hugs and kisses and telling her how much he loved her. If you will permit me a personal reminiscence.  My wife Sandra and I treasure memories of Nancy’s hospitality, her wonderful welcome and her lovely smile.  She took an interest in everything that you were doing and was always encouraging and reassuring.  Right up to the very end Nancy always knew and recognised Alex, the girls and Arthur.  Despite her infirmity Alex could always make her smile.  Nancy passed on to all of her family the legacy of love.  She taught them that to love and be loved is all that really matters. We are all of us much richer for knowing Nancy.
Alex and Nancy Coombs in the Bride Valley Litton Cheney Dorset
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