My Eulogy To Val
Val and I met 50 years ago, teenagers both. I could never forget that day on Shephall Way in Stevenage. This gorgeous girl was talking to a friend of mine. On seeing her, I had to stop to talk! Artie, my friend, wanted Val for himself. That was’t what Val had in mind at all. Artie had been pursuing her for a while, and maybe she saw me as a way to stop him pestering her! She’d even been asking for her managers help to check that he’d gone home before her. Whatever the reason, we remained together from then until now. And, Artie was history for us both.
Val and I married on March 23rd,1963 at St Georges Church in Stevenage after a very cold and prolonged winter. Snow was still on the ground, as it had been since new years eve. We then went off to Ilfracombe in Devon for a week stopping off at the Russell Hotel, Russell Square in London for one night courtesy of my Grandma who also gave me a five pound note as we left the reception, held at the Mecca Ballroom in Stevenage.
David came into the world in 1965, impatient as ever, weighing a skimpy 5lbs – look at him now! Val had been hoping that she was going to be able to spend the summer sunbathing in the garden after leaving her job at Kodak only two weeks earlier. This was not to be as he arrived six weeks early.
Sally arrived in 1968, a very different affair to David’s arrival. Both were home births being born at 58 Raleigh Crescent, Stevenage.
David came into the world to a bedroom full of people; two doctors, midwife and various members of her family. A room full of people.
Sally, on the other hand, arrived with the midwife, me, and of course Val. Ah, I forgot Candy, our dog! With me assisting the midwife. We still have the “Spencer Wells” somewhere that was used to clamp the umbilical cord.
A few years trundled by… Both David and Sally married, and as these things so often go, the absolute joy of our lives, grandchildren, shortly followed. Seven of them! All who are here today; Thomas, Robert, Tiffany, Matthew, Christopher, Robyn and finally, young James.
During our journey, together, we have made many friends. So many of you are here today. Pam knew Val for longer than I did, along with her husband, Bob. Pam first met Val at school 55 years ago, when they were 11 years old. And they have been friends ever since. Pam, Bob, you’ve always been here for us, even now. Thank you.
We have been fortunate enough to make friends in the many facets of our lives – work, holidays, neighbours. One facet that had the biggest impact on our lives was the 15 or so years that we spent as members of the Knebworth Variety Club. One of the most memorable times was when we all travelled to Chatelaillon-Plage, France which was Knebworth’s twin town. The performance I’ll always cherish was Val playing a scullery maid with lines such as “I’m just a simple scullery maid, I’m what they calls no class”. Of course, Val was always a classy gal, right up until the end, when she really dressed up well to go into hospital for the last time.
Val wasn’t allowed to stay in school for her ‘O’ levels (GCSE’s for you younger ones), as her father thought it was a waste of time. After all, he thought she was only going to get married and have babies. That was how people thought in those days. Women didn’t have careers!
Val had many jobs throughout her life, from being a scullery maid, sorry Val, a cleaner at John Lewis, a barmaid at the Coach at Horses, right up to co-owning DCS, which started with just her and her business partner, and when she retired, ten years later, was employing 60 people. So much for not having a career! Just imagine how much more she could have done if allowed to continue her education, possibly through to university. But then again, we probably wouldn’t have met, so I preferred it the way it turned out.
We had many holidays over the years, from caravan holidays in Clacton-on-sea to exotic cruises in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and the Norwegian Fjords! When Sally was old enough to leave alone, we had our first of many holidays with Pam and Bob at the Isle-of-Wight. Great holidays, once or twice a year. Memories too numerous to mention.
Val was very gifted in so many fields. She had no problems with technology, unlike me – how will I operate the video recorder without her? She was very good with words and poems, and always had an artistic streak. Flower arranging, reading, crosswords, knitting, computers, crafting, nothing phased her. The most recent activity was her crafting, which she tackled with her usual determination, producing all her own Birthday, Anniversary and Christmas cards. The quality, of which, was outstanding. There are many finished cards that she produced that I will be sending out as the time comes. I’m afraid that once they are gone, it’ll be back to Clintons or Tescos!
Val wanted her family to know more about her life than she knew about her own parents, so for the past six years she has been writing a biography, which she recently completed, except for the one chapter I was supposed to have written! So, now her grandchildren can discover a bit about where they came from. When I have written my chapter, I’ll make it available to anyone who is curious…
In summing up, Val loved and enjoyed her life to the full, and it is a tragedy that it was suddenly curtailed, at a point that she had such hope for the future.
Val, my love, my life, is sadly no more. But, you will still live in our thoughts and memories. Thank you Val for sharing your life with me.