Jack Barber / Website Design

Not a Normal Fortnight

My Dad retired from his post as Headteacher at Hawsker Primary School in the summer of 2009.  In the autumn of that year he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  On Tuesday 19th June 2012, having battled the original illness, additional conditions and complications, he passed away peacefully at James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.

On Thursday my Dad's funeral was held in St. Stephen's Church, Robin Hood's Bay, and he was buried in sight of his old school, at All Saints, Hawsker.  The church was packed, filled to bursting with family, friends new and old, colleagues, ex-pupils, neighbours, and so many more.  It was a real celebration of his life, a life that reached out, that was engaged with his community, and touched so many others.

At the funeral my younger brother, Will, spoke so well about Dad's lasting enthusiasm for everything he engaged himself in.  An attitude that anything was possible and, with effort, could be achieved - displayed most eloquently in his ability to teach himself to play saxophone to a high standard, not starting until well into his 50's.  There are many, many things which I will always be grateful to my Dad for, but I think this is the one which is perhaps the most obvious in the lives of all his children and his pupils also.  We are capable of more than we imagine, but we need an attitude which says 'I can' in order to achieve it.

It is a sad truth that it takes events like this to bring families, friends and communities together.  The care and sympathy that has been expressed over the last fortnight has been overwhelming.  And despite the incredible loss we feel, being together with my mum, my three siblings, our children, and for a shorter time our relatives from around the country, has made this time manageable and even strangely enjoyable.  I fear returning to the normality of life will be much harder.

One of my Dad's wishes was that a concert be held in his memory in aid of Ward 14, James Cook University Hospital, where he spent much of his time when the illness was too much to handle at home.  On Thursday 2nd August 2012, this concert will be held at Whitby's Spa Pavilion, featuring local musicians and bands which have had close links with Dad over the years.  I'll post some more information about the concert when it becomes available.  He was always so proud the achievements of his children and it will be our pleasure to remember him in this way.

I am fortunate to have a great many supportive and understanding clients - juggling self-employment with the ups and downs of life is not always easy and I am grateful for the time and space I have been afforded at this time.

Back in April, Megan and I started seriously looking to buy a house.  It these financially testing times, securing finance has been the main hurdle - but with great help from my excellent accountant, Hugh Gollogly at www.abgifa.co.uk and others, the day after Dad's funeral we signed the contracts and on this coming Friday we'll get the keys to our new home.

I have avoided mentioning the house anywhere online so far, in case it came to nothing, but there's no going back now - and it seems right to mention it here as I know Dad was so pleased when our offer was accepted and the mortgage agreed. 

Sadly, he'll never see our new home, but I know its rooms will be filled with the memories of a man, a loving husband, father, grandfather, a caring and supportive teacher, an organiser and facilitator without who our community will be a much poorer place.  Life goes on, and despite the pain of loss, I am glad that so many people have such good memories that will be shared and enjoyed for years to come.

Thanks for everything, Dad.