They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps which I think sums dad up perfectly. He was generous in so many ways as a husband, father, grandfather, friend, businessman and tennis coach.
Your attendance today is testament to what he meant to so many people, some of whom I do not know but again this was dad to a tee always eager to make new friends as well as maintain the friendships that in some instances have lasted a lifetime.
The past year has been very hard for all of us – no more so than for mum watching his decline especially as he loved to talk, cook, entertain & drink with all of us over the years.
I just wanted to share a couple of memories that sum dad perfectly for me, some that directly affected me & some others but were typical of who he was.
I was 9 & was bullied at school one day so ran away home to my mum! She immediately phoned dad & he returned from his office just around the corner to pass on a “bit of advice” I was told in no uncertain terms to return seek out the boy & punch him hard as you can son on the nose. Not something as a parent I’d condone but he wanted me to stand up for myself & have some self-respect. Respect was an important trait with dad, always the Good Samaritan I cannot count how many mates came home to stay without consultation but mum & dad welcomed them all. He would also expect us all to treat each other & anyone we met the way we would like to be treated ourselves not something I always found easy with two sisters that were neither tennis players or Chelsea fans.
Chelsea played a huge part of our lives, dad introduced me to the blues early on where our collective patience was truly tested for many years, it was only much later that I understood it was his way to keep in touch, weekly calls home from the Middle East when I was there were filled with match reports & him sending the press clippings of the latest disaster. If I’d not seen him for a while we met at Pizza Express on the Fulham Rd or the black bull to catch up & head off to the bridge for our fix. His ability to embarrass a 14 year old knew no bounds throwing cold meat pies at one game, being spotted by Jerry a 7 ft tall copper who dad knew from the past & playing out a fake arrest to wind me up & not surprisingly standing up to a bunch of Yobs who were chanting racist remarks at black Chelsea players telling them to behave or get out. Remarkable but again this was dad all over.
He could tell a story or two & never more so if he had an audience in the pub, he introduced me to pub life early on. Sundays after tennis was over for the morning we would delay our return for lunch with a couple of beers with the tennis friends & this was something he loved & enjoyed with so many of you here today.
Tennis came late to dad he was 26 & working for an American in Berkeley Square who introduced him to the game, it became another of his loves & I know with the friends he made through Ise Valley originally, KLV & latterly at Oundle gave him a zest for life that meant he had friends young & old.
He would have been taken aback by you all turning up to say your goodbyes as he never liked fuss or expected anything in return for his generosity other than your good company & plenty of laughs along the way & he will have the last laugh when you leave today believe me!
He was my mentor, my mate but mostly my dad & we will all miss him dearly.