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Tribute to Mike

You only get one Dad, so my sister and I are lucky that Mike was such a great one.  When I was born, Dad was a Leading Airman in the Royal Navy.  When he first joined he was 5ft 6inches tall with a 32inch chest, just a boy really and a puny one at that.  By 1956, he was on the Fleet Air Arm Field Gun Crew, something he was told he would never achieve.  He must have grown a bit.  He was told he wouldn’t get on the crew again … so, needless to say, three years later, he earned a place on the crew again.  When he left the Navy, he went to work at Perkins Engines and shortly after, my sister Debbie was born.  A few years later, when he was 31, he became a fireman.  He was the oldest recruit during training and with typical service humour was called ‘granddad’, even though he was probably the fittest man on the course.  He went on to complete 25 years in the Fire Service. Debs and I have very fond memories of the community at Dogsthorpe Fire Station.  We loved the children’s Christmas parties even though they were often interrupted by a shout and all the men would disappear.  Well that’s what we were told…  When we were older, we would go to the dances at the fire station and loved to watch Mum and Dad jiving.  That was when he wasn’t playing in the band – he had taught himself to play the guitar.  Not only that, but he made his first guitar.  We only have to hear Yellow River for the memories to come flooding back.  So, Dad was an action man, a dancer and a musician, but probably HIS favourite was sportsman.  He loved playing volleyball, badminton, tennis, table tennis and of course golf.  But true to form, that wasn’t quite enough.  In his forties, he decided he needed another challenge, so he learned to ski.  As you can guess, he was a natural.  In recent years, he gradually had to give up all these sports.  However, golf was the last one to go and he was still playing 10 months ago.  As he gave up sport, he started to get to grips with modern technology, thus adding the title IT expert to his list of achievements.  When I say expert, I mean that, he could send emails, surf the web, fiddle around with stuff and crash his machine with style.  Contrary to what you might think, he couldn’t do everything.  Indeed, Debs and I managed to do something he had not – we each produced a daughter and a son! He was thrilled to be a grandfather – however, he wasn’t quite so thrilled about being called Granddad, perhaps memories of his basic training as a fireman put paid to that.  So it was agreed that his grandchildren would call him Mike.  He loved them dearly and was extremely proud of them.  Granted, he was a little disappointed when Carly became an Estate Agent and when Stuart joined the Army cadets, but luckily Louise and Tom have made up for this by both being musicians.  Was Mike competitive?  Well maybe just a little.  Growing up, I never did manage to beat him at table tennis or badminton and I wasn’t really good enough to play volleyball with him.  When he was first diagnosed with leukaemia, he came to stay with us and told me he was still well enough to play tennis.  So I booked a court.  I was really excited.  At last, this was going to be my chance to beat him!  Of course, I lost… Was Mike a perfectionist?  Well maybe some of the time.  He did all his own decorating long before Changing Rooms had been invented.  He also did all his own carpentry and mended his car, because no-one else could do it as well as him.  And not only that, he’d have to pay someone not to do it as well as him.  Of course, no one’s perfect.  If Mike had one fault, it was this: he was always right.  But above all his many skills and achievements, his greatest was his role as a family man.  He will be missed as a father, a grandfather, a brother and as a father-in-law.  And the true courage and love he showed when nursing his partner Beryl in her final months will always be remembered.  In recent weeks, his courage and love never faltered – quite simply, he never gave up.  In his last minutes he was still able to share a joke with Debs and me and our husbands Peter and Glenn.  He even asked Carly how her new job was going, now that she wasn’t an estate agent.  If this were a perfect world, he would have lived to be a hundred.  We don’t ever remember him being ill until he contracted leukaemia.  But as he told us, he’s had a great life and done everything he wanted to do.  Finally, Debs and I would like to say, we will always love you and thank you for being such an amazing Dad.

Forever in our hearts
~ Mike ~
25th August 1934 to 16th April 2006