A Service to Celebrate Ken.
Born on the 9th January
1933 at 39 Marston Street, Oxford. – a small 2 up 2 down terraced house. He
was the youngest of 6 children. He went to East Oxford Primary School and was a
Choirboy at St. Michaels Church. Living in Marston Street he often saw the
Cowley Fathers from Cowley St. John’s walking up and down the road. Like
everyone, he knew them as the Cowley Dads.
Something he also remembered from his
childhood was having tea with the Nuns in the convent at Banbury Road. His
father was often painting and decorating there, this being the family business.
This sense of working for, and looking after people you know was something he repeated later in life when he owned the
He not only liked people, he also adored animals. As a child he
had a pet chicken! He also had
rabbit and cat at the same time.
Ken did his National Service in the
RAF, and being based nearby in the Cotswolds he was able to travel there on his
It was whilst visiting his brother in
Hampshire, that Ken met Betty – who on first sight appeared to be doing some
strange things with his brother on the lawn! They said it was acrobatics, but
then they would say that, wouldn’t they?
Ken was obviously impressed and an acquaintance
was made, with subsequent courting leading to a marriage in 1956 and three children, Alan, Roger and
Soozi. Later Ken and Betty collected six wonderful grand children – Andrew and
Chloe (Alan & Debs) Matthew and Bradley (Roger's) and Brads & Jen whom
Rogers partner, Caz, brought into the world and brought into the family.
A husband to 1, a father to 3, and a
grandfather to 6.
During this time Ken had a variety of
jobs, including a number in sales of various sorts, including things as diverse
as insurance, pies and sausages, and even an Ice Cream Van salesman – a
favourite with some small members of the family!
In between these jobs, time was spent
working at Morris Motors on the production line or Nuffield Exports, and also as
a “final view Inspector”, which kept the money coming in. At
one point he had 13 jobs in 13 years!
But what Ken really wanted was to be
self-employed and run his own business. Eventually, he had an opportunity to
take on the family painting and decorating business, and so jumped at the
chance. The job-hopping days were over at last and Ken had found his
In his time off, he loved to go
Ballroom Dancing with Betty – rock & roll being a favourite, along with
the “Big Band Sound”, and even the occasional trip to London’s “Studio
21”, an underground jazz club!
He was also a big sports fan. Going
to Rugby matches at Iffley Road with his dad and brother-in-law were common
events in the earlier years.
Later it was going to see England play football at Wembley with his mates, and
later still, taking his own sons along.
Ken was also the manager of 2 boys
football teams in Aston (of different ages) who played in the local Witney &
The family lived in Aston, just
outside Witney, for many years where he was fully involved in village life,
taking on roles such as Master of Ceremonies at events held in a local barn –
a Cossack Night, Medieval nights, Mid-Summers feasts, Jubilee feasts, etc – he
was always there in the midst of it all. He
also ran the local “200 club”.
One year he was even dressed up as
Father Christmas. Soozi, sat on his lap, chatted away, and didn’t even realise
it was her dad!
Ken was a good man. He was kind and
helpful – always willing to do anything for anyone. Even though he had little
spare money himself, he was a regular donor to various charities throughout his
life and was adored by many people he met.
However, one of Ken’s best assets
was his fun loving nature. He was very laid back and could laugh about any
situation, and make fun of anyone and everyone, in the best possible way –
always in jest, he was never, ever offensive – and people loved him for that.
Even when diagnosed with "terminal"
cancer, he could still laugh and joke about it – and fought it bravely with
He refused chemotherapy and after his
family helped him raise the funds, went off to the Issels Treatment Centre in
Mexico for a course of natural alternative treatment. He immediately made lots
of new friends amongst the staff and patients alike. Only 4 weeks later his
cancer had gone completely. All scans were clear. It was like a miracle had
His very last proper “day out”
was just over 3 weeks ago on 24th July 2009, when he went with Alan and Andrew,
on Alan's birthday, to the new Wembley Stadium
to see a football match, a day he thoroughly
enjoyed. Father, son and grandson together, 3 generations and a memory
His footballing hero was Bobby
Robson, who was exactly the same age as Ken, and who himself died only a couple
of weeks earlier after his own battle against cancer.
As mentioned previously, Ken used to really enjoy going ballroom dancing with Betty, and one song
they always danced to was The Last Waltz.
So it was with The Last Waltz that we
ended the celebration of Ken’s life, after which, in the new tradition of
footballing tributes, instead of silence when the music stopped, we gave a
standing ovation instead, to help him on his way, and to say Thank you Ken,
thank you Dad, thank you Grampy Ken.....for