Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends
and Family - first of all, thank you all for coming. We’re here
today to celebrate the life of George Sherwood, who was the lifelong
husband of Lucy Sherwood and our dad.
Before we begin we want to say
that throughout his life and even over the last year or so after he
was diagnosed with cancer and started treatment, George had a
positive, humorous as well as a philosophical outlook on life – he
loved life, and we believe he’d want everyone here to be smiling
when they think of him, especially today.
He died very peacefully in
hospital on Christmas morning, surrounded by his family.
George had a great imagination,
and over the past year he often visualized Trumpton’s fire brigade
helping him to fight his cancer – though in the weeks leading up to
his death, he said that Pew, Pew, Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble
and Grub kept going on tea breaks and were no longer on duty.
Although he was tired, he was still doing his own thing up until the
last week of his life, when he was taken into hospital with
We take comfort from this, and
thanks to the wonderful staff at Hartlepool’s Intensive Care Unit -
he was very comfortable and died peacefully, and in the long run was
spared the pain and discomfort which the cancer would have
inevitably brought about.
George will be missed, he was a
well loved man – by his family, Lucy, Paul, Eva, John, Edward, Sara,
Adam and myself – by his cousins Ros and Frank - by Carol, Michael
and Ian and all of the extended family – and by his good friends and
their families both in England and in Spain.
Now there’s no way to fully
describe a person’s life, their relationships or their character in
a short speech like this – and that’s especially true of George. He
did a lot of things, and he knew a lot of people, so please don’t
feel missed out. All we can do here is attempt to give some edited,
sometimes censored highlights of the main events of his life, and
try to describe a few of his qualities – the things which affected
us and which we’ll remember him for.
George lived a full life. He
was born during the war in 1943, the only son of Betty Sherwood, and
was brought up by Betty with the help of his Grandmother Jane and
his aunt Marion, as well as his Uncle George, Aunt Rose, and
surrounded by the large extended family of Sherwoods and Batemans.
He went to the local grammar
school where he enjoyed playing rugby and, always a natural artist;
he found an interest in technical drawing. When he left school at
sixteen he started work in the drawing office at the Expansion,
where he first met my mother, Lucy. They married in 1963 and started
a family. They had two sons – myself in 1964 and Mike in 1965.
He left the job at the
Expansion because he needed to support his growing family - and took
a few jobs which weren’t really for him. As a bus driver he was
criticised for leaving a whole shift of men waiting to be picked up.
As a postman he didn’t wait for criticism, after a few days on the
job on a cold winter’s day he just left a full mailbag in a bin and
went home – he wasn’t cut-out to be a postman.
More stable jobs followed,
including the steelworks, ICI at Billingham, then working away on
oil and gas plants in North Africa and the Middle East. He chased
off a Jehova’s Witness one day when he was home from the desert,
standing on the doorstep with a beard and a very dark suntan,
wrapped in a towel, gesturing and shouting at the poor guy in
Arabic…He certainly had a sense of humour, albeit quite strange at
By the time we were going to
university in the early 1980’s, George was working on the rigs in
the north sea, which he really didn’t enjoy, but he made the best of
it, because he was supporting his family. Throughout his life he
always seemed to have a song going on his head. In fact just before
he had the accident on the rig which finally put him out of work, he
was climbing over greasy pipe work to go and turn a valve, singing
‘tiptoe through the tulips…’ as he climbed.
The fall was bad one, he
damaged his spine and couldn’t work again – and for a fit man in his
mid-forties being disabled was difficult, but he found a new lease
of life when he got back into education, and went on to get his
degree in sociology and psychology from the Open University. He’d
always been interested in art and in the years that followed he took
up oil painting, and along with our mam developed an interest in
computers, especially historical war games and flight simulators. He
even got his virtual pilot’s license.
He had a lifelong interest in
history and whilst he wasn’t political or religious he was more than
happy to discuss (and argue) either in depth. Generally to say why
they were all wrong. George was a great talker – he loved to debate,
but he was also a really good listener, and many, many people
confided in him – ourselves included – and benefited from his
kindness, his humour and his wise advice.
When people were stressed or
having a difficult time, George would sometimes simply say – ‘steady
away’, which we thought was just wonderful. Even when there was
nothing wrong and George was just having a laugh – he’d say -
‘promise me you’ll buck up’, which generally made you laugh as
Of course he also had a serious
side - he certainly didn’t suffer fools gladly and whilst he rarely
showed anger, on the few occasions someone upset him he could go
very quiet – sometimes for days, sometimes for years, until the
particular issue or offense resolved itself. It happened to us when
we were young and daft, and you’ll know it if it happened to you.
Over the past ten years thanks
to my brother Paul meeting his wife Eva, George fell in love with
the Spanish people and culture and became a keen student of the
Spanish language, and made great and long-lasting friendships during
his many visits to Murcia.
Throughout his life George was
a very social person. He liked to drink, he liked to smoke – he
hated the smoking ban, and he loved going to the pub and being with
his friends. Whether it was The Old Durhams, The Volunteers or in
later years The Greensides and Lizzarands in Murcia, George loved to
In fact even after the cancer
was diagnosed, George said from the start that he just wanted life
to be as normal as possible, that quality of life was the most
important thing, and even with the side effects of the treatment, he
continued to go out regularly, to spend time with friends – whether
over tapas and beer in Lizzarands, or as an active member of the
cheese club in The Greensides.
In the week before he went into
hospital, George was still active, still socializing, still singing
and still enjoying life – and that’s exactly how he would have
And he’d be so glad that so
many of his family and friends from could be here today to say
goodbye, to remember him fondly, with a smile – and maybe raise a
glass to him later on in the pub. In fact by now he’d probably be
looking at his watch, thinking ‘we’re wasting valuable drinking time
here’. So we’re sure he really wouldn’t want us to be sad, he wasn’t
that kind of guy: he enjoyed his life, and he did it his way.
Finally our whole family would
like to thank you all very much for the kindness you’ve shown us
over the past weeks, for the all the cards, flowers, and the sincere
messages of condolence. And thank you so much for coming together to
pay your respects to George.
And thanks for everything dad,
you touched the lives of us all, and you were a lovely guy.