Gary Phillips (27 Feb 1951 - 25 Oct 2014)

Funeral Service

Kirkley Cemetery Chapel London Road South Lowestoft NR33 0PD
3rd Nov 2014

In loving memory of the late Gary Phillips who sadly passed away on 25th October 2014

REMEMBERING GARY - brief history
Gary was a South London lad from a working class family: he grew up in Brixton and as a child played on bombsites. His father was a sheet metal worker and something of an ‘absent father’ it seems – spending his non-working time in the pub. His mother was a cleaner – Gary always casually dropped into conversations that one of the other cleaners his mum worked with was Michael Caine’s mum!

He was the youngest of three boys by at least 15 years – another story he told was that one of his older brothers was a bank robber and knew the Krays!

Gary took O levels, left school and went into the print at the London Evening News. On leaving the print he became a youth theatre worker at Oval House – which always leads to another of Gary’s favourite anecdotes about Pierce Brosnan.

Determined to study further and driven by a genuine thirst and enthusiasm for knowledge, he took A levels in maths and physics at night school and gained a place as a mature student on the BA in Social Science at Kingston Polytechnic, where he studied from 1973–1976. During this time he met Tony Sutton, Jan’s brother). It wasn’t until several years later when he first met Jan that he realised what a strange coincidence this was.

Sarah Guymer lit a candle
Sam Phillips lit a candle
Sarah Adnams wrote

Thinking of you all the time and missing you.

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Linda Hedger lit a candle
Debra Brooks wrote

Gary was such an inspiration to me and I will be forever grateful for his support and encouragement to further my education. The Inclusive Practice Degree he and Jan developed is an amazing coarse, enabling their values and personalities to spread and make a difference to so many people. Love to Jan and your family, may your many many happy memories of Gary give you comfort xxxx

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Jan Maclean wrote

Gary was a big part of Alex and my life from 1990. We shared child care, helping each other with Alex, Sam , Jack and Josie. I also taught at Lowestoft College and I was proud to have Gary on my teaching team. He was a kind and generous mentor helping me when I began teaching special needs. But my fondest memories of Gary was as a talented set designer.We worked together at the Seagull Theatre and he designed and built some clever and creative sets for my productions. Gary was much loved and his passing is a great loss.

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Josie Phillips wrote

Josie's Tribute
JOSIE Dad and I had a special kind of relationship. We displayed our love in the form of relentlessly mocking each other.

Dad had a very unique way of raising me as his only daughter. He wanted to raise a strong, independent woman, and decided the best way for him to achieve this was through light-hearted criticism. A firm favourite used during my teens was ‘Josie you’re pretty... pretty ugly!’

Since moving out last year, every time I came to visit my parents, I’d prepare myself for Dad’s usual greeting of ‘What do you want this time?’ and jokes about needing to get the locks changed. His jokes were becoming increasingly funny; little did he know my jokes about putting him in a home with Grannie were becoming increasingly serious!

Dad was the wittiest, weirdest, and most wonderful man in my life and I already miss him dearly. But his inappropriately timed jokes, ridiculous dress sense and questionable life stories will continue to make me laugh in his absence.

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Sam Phillips wrote

SAM My dad seemed to work at two speeds and two speeds alone – fast and tediously slow – there was no middle gear.

As a social scientist – he would have wanted observational evidence to support this conclusion. Here are some examples of him at top speed:
• Walking speed – on many family walks dad would often speed off in to the distance with an ever widening gap between him and the rest of us, marching at such pace, even the fittest of our family dogs struggled to keep up. However, he never failed to turn around, marching up to us to re-group and tell us he had seen something interesting up ahead.
• Reading speed – he was an avid reader, from fiction to non-fiction, crime thrillers to historical accounts (like Sharpe, for example). From new research to newspapers – he was engrossed in the thickest of novels and deepest of scientific research at a breakneck speed. At times, I was slightly dubious that he absorbed any of it, but these doubts were quickly squashed when he spoke about it at great length afterwards.

At the opposite end of the scale – there were times he would function at a greatly reduced/borderline snail-like speed:
• Cooking – every meal, unless microwavable, would take time. From a long simmered spaghetti Bolognese sauce to a well-rested steak – good food took time, was to be enjoyed and always worth the wait. He relished the chance to fill the house with the smells of steak – despite the fact that only 2/5ths of our family eat red meat. Due to this I do not believe he would have been suited to work in the fast food trade, if speed was of the essence.
• Early mornings – he was a night owl and this was the time I found him to be at his best and most engaging. I have never known him to be particularly active first thing in the morning until several coffees and adequate time had passed… then he would be ready for the day to begin. This is something my siblings and I seem to have inherited. Cheers Dad.
However, there was an exception to early mornings when we were on holiday and on Christmas day – he would usually be the first one up and unusually chirpy for that time of day or more than likely at Christmas, he hadn’t even been to bed.

These were merely a small part of his character, and I can think of many words to describe my dad. But above all, he was quick-witted, well-read, informed, wonderfully interesting, contemplative, occasionally inappropriate, highly creative – an encouraging and caring person.

Just as long as it wasn’t too early.

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Jack Phillips wrote

Jack's Tribute to his Dad
As others have said, there were always anecdotes..
If you spoke with dad long enough you'd have heard that he was once best mates with Pierce Brosnan. Dad often described him as his roadie and made out that he took a young, niave Pierce under his wing in his early days.
Unfortunately, Pierce wasn't able to make it today... or indeed verify the tale.
Additionally, Dad was one of the wittiest people I know. That said, it does mean he didn't have his fair share of "dad jokes".
The main one in particular being that he would sign my birthday card from a different name each year. Whether it was "Mr Jones, from number 42" or simply "the milkman", it never got old... in his mind, at least.

He was also one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. If you named it, he had read it or knew enough about it to quickly enter a pretty reasonable conversation on the topic. He didn't know a little about a lot; he knew a lot about a lot.
Though all of this came without the slightest hint of bravado.
However as well as reading everything ever, he had watched just about everything ever, but just didn't admit to it, and in fact would remain adamant that he hadn't seen it.
He must have watched the Bourne trilogy once a month and is probably the only person who still found repeats of The Simpsons hilarious.
Our colourful attire today isn't just because Dad wouldn't have wanted us to wear black at his funeral, but a tribute to his many colourful outfits.
On occasions such as mine and Josie's graduations, there were numerous texts and calls exchanged in the run up to the ceremony to ensure that Dad's intended outfit for the day, was.. shall we say... acceptable.
I must say though, and to quote a friend's comment on my graduation picture: "pops has got style".
I learned the other day that recently Dad had said that I reminded him of a younger version of himself. He didn't explain this any further but I have my own thoughts on what he might have meant and can't think of a greater compliment to have bestowed upon me.


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Tony Sutton wrote

Tony Sutton - notes for his Tribute
• that I met G, seven years before my sister, at Kingston Poly
• that although I was studying law and he social science, my social group was mostly social scientists so I would see him regularly
• that I liked beer and so did he, particularly Youngs bitter from Wandsworth.

What I remember:
• he was well respected and liked by his fellow students
• had street cred with a touch of eccentricity because of his background and he was a mature student which put him into a special status in his year group
• always generous of spirit and agile of wit
• never short of an anecdote
• academically bright and engaging, and knew his subject
• able to express his views well, providing convincing and knowledgeable debate amazing that seven years later he met my sister.
• And we always had that special bond, which was our background and the old Kingston days, sharing names of fellow students and experiences.
• And how he brought his special self to his family
• Engaged and involved father
• Strong sense of social justice
• A friend and a brother

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Janet Phillips wrote


As a family, we agreed two rules for today 1. That we would wear Gary inspired outfits and 2. that we would try not to make each other cry with our tributes – so here goes.....
As my brother mentioned, he knew Gary many years before I met him at Barnet College. What attracted me to Gary ? – first and foremost, the BEARD but also the QUICK WIT – both, in my view, essential ingredients. When we met, we were both in settled long-term relationships – I lived in a semi in Cheshunt (just north of London); he in a chocolate-box cottage in a small Hertfordshire village ...the anecdote for this something about it being written in the Deeds of this cottage that the Queen Mother had the right to use his toilet if she needed to ! Just 2 years after meeting, we both realised we needed to be together.
The early years of our relationship were like us both going from a prematurely grey life to a full-on brightly coloured new life. He knew central London like the back of his hand and we went to “hidden” pubs that no tourists used, for meals in obscure but amazing restaurants, to see live music, mostly jazz and blues, to films in the West End, to the South Bank and other art galleries, to museums – especially the British Museum....and we ALWAYS WALKED MILES...b’cos it was always easier than public transport !!!
In 1984, we set up home together in South West London.
Gary and I had never planned to have children so you can imagine our total shock when, aged 36, I became pregnant with Sam.
Suffice it to say, Sam was such a wonderful, un-expected pleasure, we had Jack and Josie in quick succession giving us 3 babies under the age of 4.
The family up-rooted from London to Pakefield when I got a senior lecturer job at Lowestoft College in 1990. Gary worked as a part-time lecturer, furniture maker, theatre set designer and most importantly of all, he was the Dad that did nursery and school runs and the childcare. I have this vivid memory of coming home in the evenings to find all 4 of them kneeling on the floor – 3 small bottoms and 1 large one in the air- all drawing or painting or colouring. Gary has always been a talented artist.

What else can I tell you about Gary? ....firstly, what a PRIVATE MAN he was ...I still know so very little about his family – I have never met any of them as he had no contact with them.
He was a man of many ANECDOTES – he’d casually drop them into conversations giving me clues about his past –how, aged 17, he hitched on his own round Europe; was in Paris in ‘68 for the riots; how he had to sell his beloved saxophone to pay the rent; how he paid well over the odds for a Navaho Indian jacket because the guy selling it needed the money for his fare home...
He was an AVID READER – he read the Times and Guardian from cover to cover most days ( but never the sports section ); the house has 3 walls full of books and he would never throw a book away; A HAT MAN - he has his own hat wall – with 20 hats hanging on it – hence why some of us look like “ prats in his hats” today; A TALENTED GUITARIST with a range of 8 different guitars ; A STYLISH/COLOURFUL DRESSER but secretly the owner of 22 pairs of BEIGE TROUSERS ; a RADIO 4 ADDICT – it was a constant background sound track in every room.
Weekends were always about family - LONG family walks , family meals, enjoyment and banter that at times felt like verbal warfare – of the friendly sort.
Gary’s teaching was unusual as it included everything from post-graduate work to working with students with PMLD. He enjoyed them all but always had a particularly soft spot for the students with LDD – the Andrew McBean’s and Joy Reilly’s of this world who some of you, I am sure, still remember.
It has been amazing to see the tributes from so many of his students - given his own history of failing the 11 plus and leaving school with a few O-levels , he felt very strongly that young people and adults should have opportunities to continue their education.
That they shouldn’t just “do” qualifications but should be inspired and excited about learning so they want to go on and learn more and have the self-confidence and skills to do so; that they should understand what they are learning and question it. He believed that learning be should be fun. I am sure all his students have heard and enjoyed many of his anecdotes and also maybe they have also wondered how true they were !!??!

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Brenda Atkinson wrote

Gary, once met never forgotten. Fabulous man and certainly one of the best educators I have ever come across who inspired me to further my education. Fantastic, funny (except the Scottish jokes!),kind, compassionate and tall with funny socks. You creep into my conversations and will continue to do so, you will be held in great regard in my memory. My heart goes out to your loved ones who have lost such an incredible human being. Much love, xxx

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Craig Warwick wrote

Gary helped me through the research part of my Degree, which I know would have been impossible without the constant support and advice. I always look for individuality in people and Gary was one of those people. Gary was a very kind man who will be sadly missed.

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Kim thrower wrote

Hi I not really sure what you would like to add in his book, I don't have any funny stories or anything but he was a great support through my research project and def knew what he was talking about even if I didn't hehe! But will always remember him for his support, great individual clothes sense and personality. A real loss to all. He was a valued member of staff to all students and taught in a very individual way but one that worked and helped get us through our degree X

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Gaynor Morris wrote

Thinking of you all xx

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Georgette Vass wrote

Such a great loss! A lovely man who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him! Sending lots of love & support to Jan & Gary's family & to everyone who knew Gary xxx

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Jane Kestle wrote

An inspired tutor

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  • A lovely generous, kindhearted man all round.

    Posted by Patricia on 3/11/2014 Report abuse
  • A great tutor whilst completing my degree. A real inspiration and a real sadness that he has gone.He was a real genuine person who had great intellelect and was so very interesting to chat to. Many happy weeks spent putting the world to rights in the hub at college with Brenda and Sarah. Goodnight Gary

    Posted by Teresa on 3/11/2014 Report abuse
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Jane Kestle lit a candle
Jane Kestle wrote

Thoughts and prayers to Gary's family & friends.

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Kim thrower wrote

Hi I not really sure what you would like to add in his book, I don't have any funny stories or anything but he was a great support through my research project and def knew what he was talking about even if I didn't hehe! But will always remember him for his support, great individual clothes sense and personality. A real loss to all. He was a valued member of staff to all students and taught in a very individual way but one that worked and helped get us through our degree. A really sad loss and a big shock. Love to all x

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  • Fondest memories of Gary. A kind and gentle man who squashed all my fears of entering 411 on my first day of assessing. Always the gentleman! Love and blessings Lee Darby xx

    Posted by Lee on 3/11/2014 Report abuse
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