GORDON MOXOM 1937-2016
The following eulogy was given at his memorial service on Tuesday 13th December 2016. Firstly, Barbara and Alan have asked me to say thank you to all of you for coming here today to pay your respects and say farewell to Gordon. In turn, I would like to thank them for the honour of being asked to say these few words about the man we all knew and admired. Gordon was born at Whitethorn Cottage, Litton Cheney, in April 1937. He had a sister June who pre- deceased him. He attended Thorners School and then a secondary school in Allington, which no longer exists. After school he took an apprenticeship at Sharptones Engineering, which has also subsequently disappeared. Whether Gordon had anything to do with the demise of these two establishments we shall never know – maybe it was just co-incidence! Gordon met Barbara in 1958 on Chesil Beach and they were married in 1962. Their son Alan was born in 1964. Gordon was a very private man, not one for a night out with the boys playing skittles or darts. At one time he was a keen bell ringer and he also enjoyed fishing and scuba diving with his friend Mike Stoodley. However, his two overwhelming passions were his family and his work. He was immensely proud of his two grand-daughters Natalie and Sophie especially when they both obtained university degrees. Gordon’s father Charlie worked at Whiteheads Torpedo factory at Wyke Regis during the war and also, with Gordon’s mother Joyce, ran a bed and breakfast establishment in Weymouth. Charlie Moxom established a workshop come garage next to Grove Cottages in the early 1950’s and Gordon joined him in 1958, at the age of 21, following his apprenticeship. Now, as anyone who knew Gordon would imagine, he was not one to sit back and spend the rest of his life doing simple routine jobs. So it was in 1962 that A C Moxom Limited, Precision Engineers, was officially registered at Companies House, Gordon and Barbara being the only shareholders. Over the next few years the expanding business outgrew the premises next to Grove Cottages so, in 1971, additional facilities were added on the opposite side of Chalkpit Lane. A C Moxom Limited continued to provide employment in the village over the next 39 years, until it was closed in March 2010, mainly due to a lack of suitably skilled labour. Talking to ex-employees, it is clear that Gordon was regarded very much as a friend as well as an employer. As one of them told me “I was sent there by the labour exchange in 1971. When I got home my wife asked me if the job was OK. I said it will do until something better comes along. I stayed there until I retired 34 years later. He enjoyed the challenge of taking on work that others refused to consider. We used to think he was mad at times when he came back with what appeared to be some impossible job, but somehow we always seemed to find a solution”. Gordon always had a bee in had bonnet about ‘not being educated’. It’s true, he may not have had a piece of paper proving he was good at passing exams, but he was an extremely competent self-taught engineer. In seeking solutions to the ‘impossible’ jobs he took on he became not only a skilled metalworker but also a very able metallurgist. Another skill he mastered was the art of spray welding stellite alloy onto surfaces to harden them, sometimes solving problems that Deloro Stellite themselves could not. He once told me that Deloro Stellite offered to keep Moxom Engineering fully employed on this work alone, possibly making him a very rich man. Of course, this would have been too repetitive and boring for Gordon so he turned them down. During retirement he used his skills building a magnificent quarter scale model of a Burrell steam engine. The plans he bought to help him proved to be somewhat less than accurate so Gordon had to re-design a lot of parts himself. In doing so he had to learn all about the mysteries of steam engineering. He spent a lot of time trying to explain to me the nuances of slide valves, safety valves, boiler pressures etc. etc. but I’m afraid it was wasted on me. I was extremely proud, however, to be allowed to help him rivet the tracks onto the main drive wheels. I had the privilege of knowing Gordon for over 40 years. We used to meet at the Manor Hotel in West Bexington on Wednesday evenings when Gordon’s father-in-law, Fred, used to run the bar for Charlie Groves, of Groves Nursery, who owned the Manor at that time. Fred was a great character who delighted in winding up the holiday makers. When asked by some blazer adorned individual why there was no mint in his Pimms Fred said “there’s plenty out there in the garden – just help yourself”. Gordon and I had a boat propelled by a small Seagull engine which we kept on Chesil Beach and used for fishing trips. What the health and safety brigade would make of us these days I dread to think. No life jackets, an engine which would not go against the tide, no bucket to bail it out and a crate of beer under the seats – I’m sure they would have tried to ban us “for our own good” of course.Like Fred, Gordon also had a dry sense of humour. Keeping the boat on the pebbles meant that the seams used to open up and allow water to trickle in. One night he said to me “if we’re going out fishing at the weekend we ought to put the boat in the water to let it plim up”. Now, you can imagine the puzzlement of the holiday makers wondering why a couple of idiots were sat on the pebbles, holding the mooring rope, watching their boat bobbing up and down whilst drinking bottles of beer. Eventually it became too much for one of them and he said “something wrong with your boat”? “No”, Gordon replied”, “it’s what is known in Dorset as a golfing boat – it’s got 18 holes in it”. So, as we say “farewell” to Gordon for one last time, I’m sure many of you share similar happy memories not only of his sense of humour but his kindness, thoughtfulness and undeniable generosity. I’m sure he would not want us to mourn his passing but to give thanks for his life and work whilst expressing our condolences to Barbara and the family. Goodbye my old friend, you will be sadly missed but never forgotten. Thank you. David Hearn
Fred Wilmington
Charlie & Alan
JOHN RANDALL 1925-2017
You will all have your own personal memories of John Randall. However I would like to remind you of the man I first met 35 years ago and whom I had the pleasure of meeting many times thereafter. John was of slight build and stood ramrod straight. He had the weather wom face and the fiat tweed cap of a countryman. He would be wearing a collar and tie under his well brushed tweed ratcatcher jacket. Below this he would wear breeches, leather gaiters and boots. What struck one most was the quizzical twinkle in his eyes and the amazing high polish on his brown gaiters and boots. John would be about to get into his white van which was not as well polished as his boots and gaiters. This contained all that he needed for his joumey whether it was to London, to judge at a show, visit a market, give advice or any of the thousand and one other matters associated with sheep or heavy horses. John was generous with his time and enjoyed talking and explaining his twin loves of heavy horses and sheep to anybody, ensuring that his expertise was passed on. This was the same approach he used whether he was talking to the Queen, Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, The Chairman of Youngs Brewery or the Colonel of the Dorset Yeomanry. He would always talk to the young be they at the ring side of a show, the village fete or when he ran his legendry lamb roast barbeque. All his friends needed his advice which he so freely gave. He was at peace with the world, not afraid to express his opinion and very willing to listen to yours and then tell you that you were wrong. So with the help of Dorothy, Carol and Russell who wrote most of what I will read I will try and explain to you how John became the great shepherd he was. John was bom at Beckington, a village to the North of Frome, in Somerset. His father Richard was a carpenter, wheelright and undertaker, his mother Martha a cheesemaker. He was educated at Beckington Primary and then at Frome Grammar School where he excelled at cricket and kept wicket for both the school and village teams. He and his elder brother Stewart had a true rural upbringing with all that included in those days and John was quite inventive. At an early age John showed a keen interest in farming, working holidays and week ends for Russell Frankes a local dairy farmer. He left school at 15 and moved to Salway Ash to be with his Uncle Bert and Aunt Rose who had Cursey Farm. This was where John’s passion for sheep started. A neighbour, Percy Warren, had a flock of Dorset Homs. It was here too that John met Dorothy and romance blossomed. John had saved his pennies and had a car but, so that he could take Dorothy out, he need extra cash and this came from rabbiting at which, as with so many other things, he was a dab hand with purse and long nets as well as his trusty 12 bore and not forgetting Fido bred by Mr Coombes here in Litton. No rabbit was safe. One Boxing Day he and a mate went to Colmers Hill and after 52 shots between them retumed with 53 rabbits. The dog caught one. Time went by and in 1951 John and Dorothy were married at Netherbury Church and the following year David arrived followed three years later by Russell At this time John’s love of sheep expanded and his shepherding career took off. After various jobs he went to work for Charles Borough at Manor Farm, Halse near Bishops Lydeard once again in Somerset. Dorset Downs of course and all went well until the bitter winter of 1963 when he left after a disagreement as to whether the sheep or the cows should have the best food. John then retumed to Dorset as Head Shepherd to Bill Hooper at Winfrith Newburgh where the sheep did take priority over most other things. John wanted to further his career and took a job managing a mixed farm, sheep, beef and corn, in East Sussex but the sheep were Romneys. Then back to Dorset as shepherd for Rex Loveless at Piddlehinton and so onto the Dorset College of Agriculture at Kingston Maurward which he described as quite an eye opener more so for the lecturers and students than for John. After the DCA sold their sheep flock John temporarily changed tack and looked after a show team of Shire Horses, his other great passion, breeding, breaking and showing the horses and very narrowly missing out on qualifying for the Horse of the Year Show at Olympia in London a couple of times. In 1982 John moved to Litton and back to his fïrst love sheep. This time he worked for himself contract sheering, trimming and whatever else he was called to do. About a year after his move, whilst in deep conversation with Walt Borough, he said that it would take 5 years to start a flock and breed a champion. So the gauntlet was down, John bought 5 ewes, rented a few acres and started the Bride Valley flock of pedigree Dorset Down Sheep and, during the fifth year, a Championship Prize was won. From then on the flock grew and Champions were bred and very high prices paid when these animais were sold. By this time grandchildren were on the scene and all were roped in to help whether they wanted to or not. Stephen, more commonly known as Nipper, was a little different. He was always ready to go especially when he was big enough to open gates and fetch and carry. Of course the bag of sweets in the van always helped. John and his mate would go off to do the sheep and retum when it suited them. One moming Carol told John that Nipper had to properly exercise his dog, a black and white Border Collie of course, whilst they were out. When they retumed Carol asked John if they had exercised the dog. Oh yes said John followed by a big grin. It tumed out that Nipper sat in the back of the van with a piece of rope as a lead, so with the back doors open and John driving the dog ran behind. This tumed into a regular event. John carried on shepherding for many years and eventually gave up in 2003 but he did not lose his love and enthusiasm for sheep. He did not give in. He carried on with the Dorset Downs Sheep Breeders Association, helping to organize the annual breed show and as a committee member until 2015. The telephone was his lifeline with people ringing for a chat or advice. Over the years John achieved many things of which he was proud. He met most of the Royal Family. He was presented to the Queen. He met the Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales many times. He served on the Royal Smithfield Show Committee with the Princess Royal as President. He was on very good ternis with Lady Aldington and acquainted with Lord Whitelaw selling him many a ram. John had a long association with Young’s Brewery in Wandsworth because, of course, their mascot was a Dorset Hom Ram called Ramrod who had to be trimmed several times a year to keep him looking good. This meant regular visits to the Brewery and these always ended in the Sample Room. At Christmas he would take a ewe and lambs to the Brewery for their Christmas crib which raised money for the local children’s home. Again a visit to the Sample Room and a good sélection of beer for the retum joumey. John also had a fine relationship with the Dorset Yeomanry who are now the Wessex Rifles. Their mascot was also a Dorset Hom Ram which meant visits to Bovington Camp and of course a detour on the way home via the Officer’s Mess. John served on various judging panels and judged at many of the major and minor shows both as a breed and an interbreed judge. Dorset Down Sheep were his overriding passion and over the years he won countless prizes, Many many Champions, Supreme Champions and Interbreed Champions. John wrote two books and made a video on how to show sheep and how to trim their feet. He appeared on télévision including with Chris Evans on Zig and Zag. As well as his love of sheep in general, and Dorset Downs especially, John will be remembered for the help and advice he gave to many to help them on their way in the sheep world, and of course his britches and highly polished boots and leggings lovingly prepared for him by Dorothy. Finally John enjoyed an ample dram whenever the occasion arose. Thank you John for enriching all our lives.
By Robin Barbour
FUNERAL ADDRESS – Monday, 27 th February 2017
By David Hearn
FUNERAL ADDRESS – Tuesday, 13 th December 2016
in the Bride Valley
Litton Cheney
Dorset
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