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DavidPrincess Alice Hospice
In loving memory of David Willmey who sadly passed away on 12th June 2020.
David Willmey by Warren:
* A lifelong keen cyclist
* Lover of maths
* Secret cat stroker
* Enjoyer of fact based science fiction (Ray Bradbury)
* Purveyor of bad jokes
Jokes so bad the only person that would laugh was himself, which made it even more funnier for him. The bigger the groan he got, the better. Once the Christmas hat was on the gloves were off.
Queue bad joke:
What time did the man go to the dentist???
(Pauses for effect!)
(Followed by groans!)
We were beginning to suspect he had a side-line in writing Christmas cracker jokes...
Growing up in Fulham with his cousins Tony and Marie under the watchful eye of Aunt Alice and Uncle Charles Tizzard, he had many-a-mishap, including homemade gun powder and bows and arrows. Later on he would have strong ties to his cousin’s families Marie & Bill, Tony & Ann and Sarah & Alfie.
Academically through hard work and luck he got a scholarship placement at the prestigious London Oratory School in Chelsea. Leaving early at the age of 16 to work in a bakery.
Which eventually lead him back to college to study to become a draughtsman specialising in heating and piping designs for oil rigs and even parts of the cooling system for nuclear power stations.
A one-time member of the Socialist Party and lifelong anti-capitalist with a vast apathy for the current political system both locally and internationally.
1965 at a party in Wimbledon he met Joan Josephine and by 1968 they had married and later had two precious children, Clare and Warren.
In the early 70's it was often off to Hammersmith to take his young brother-in-law Jonathan and mother-in-law for crisps and a pint at the riverside pubs.
He always had a good nose for a walk in Surrey, Gomshall et al as long as there were cream teas at the end of it.
In 1973 he took the family to the United States, living in Maple Shade in New Jersey and working as a Piping Designer and Draughtsman in Pennsylvania. Then travelled over to the West Coast sightseeing, San Francisco, The Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Los Angeles etc.
In 1979 and into the 80s the family were off, this time to Norway, to work in Oslo for Brown & Root, involving two very cold winters and one very hot summer, with lots of skiing, swimming and cycling.
Work and travel would continue to be a theme with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and two years in Holland also on the list.
Time for another bad joke:
Always remember, don't trust atoms...
(Pauses for effect!)
They make up EVERYTHING! (More Groans!)
He also had a love for books and poetry and would often quote from a wide range of authors, but Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems were a favourite and he always had Alice in Wonderland, The Jabberwocky or The Hunting of the Snark to hand:
This is from "The Walrus and the Carpenter".
The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
His favourite films, along with the classics included;
* Spaghetti westerns
* The Third Man with his favourite zither music by Anton Karas.
* Blade Runner along with the Vangelis sound track.
* Brother, where art thou?
* Alien & Predator.
His favourite form of comedy was surprisingly, for such a serious man, slapstick.
Much preferring the working of Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, The Goons Show (along with Spike Milligan’s poetry) and even Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall’s Bottom - about two down and outs living in Hammersmith, especially the Halloween episode involving a cattle prod and "Sprouts Mexicane" would have him in stitches on the floor unable to speak or see for tears!
His love of maths persisted so much that in the late 80s he decided in spare time to attend The Open University for a Degree in Mathematics, which he completed successfully.
Jim Al-Khalili on BBC 4 would become a regular fixture, along with constant scribbling of Euler's formula, Pythagorean Theorem, and later it would be solving endless Sudoku puzzles.
In his early years as a cyclist club member he enjoyed riding Time Trials around Richmond Park or Bexhill. Along with adventurous cycle holidays to Europe.
But later would only take up cycling again initially as a commuter option until finally cycling the back lanes of Surrey with best friend Ian.
He also enjoyed a good rummage at the cycle jumbles with Ian and Jim, trying to find essential items or rare parts on the cheap.
His retirement present was a much beloved gloss-black Dolan single speed track bike, which he swore handled better than any other bike he had ridden.
Why don't crabs share???
(Pauses for effect!)
Because they're shellfish!
(Even more Groans!)
He dearly loved his family and grandchildren and will be sorely missed.
So I thought I would start somewhere near the beginning for me, when Grandpa used to read bedtime stories for me and my sister Aura.
Storytelling was a huge part of my connection to Grandpa as he always encouraged us to be silly, whimsical, creative and adventurous. To delight in nature, literature, art and music. He did the best character voices I've ever heard and could bring any story to life. During one of our last conversations, he reminded me that during storytime, having inherited his passion for reading, I would take the book from him and say it was time for me to read him a bedtime story. So, I’ll keep reading for you now Gramps.
Many of my memories about Grandpa centre around this whimsical story-telling; he loved singing silly songs, reading poetry, quoting old bits of prose or witty limericks. He found magic in everything he did and managed to articulate it so wonderfully.
He was always proud of us, but he was most proud when he found out we'd created something. Poetry contests, cards, drawings, paintings, sculptures and even baked goods we'd created instantly became prized possessions of his, and talking points at family gatherings.
I remember how he would sit down in his favourite chair with a cup of tea and promptly fall asleep next to his still full cup. When questioned on how he slept, he'd always say he was most certainly NOT sleeping, merely “resting his eyes”.
I inherited from him not just the blue eyes he claimed to be resting, but also his habit of snoring - so I can confirm he definitely WAS asleep.
He was the best grandfather anyone could wish for. He also showed me what a good father should be like when mine wasn't up to scratch. He was inspiring, supportive, patient and wise but most of all kind.
I wanted to thank all of the people who looked after him in his last days. Nana, Uncle Warren and Mama - though my heart aches thinking of your experience I am so proud of you all. On top of family support, both Princess Alice Hospice and Marie Curie made sure he was as comfortable as possible at home.
I wanted to finish with a couple of short literary quotations from books that always remind me of Gramps.
From the BFG by Roald Dahl (because gramps always embodied this character so well):
"Dreams is full of mystery and magic. Do not try to understand them"
From Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (one of our family favourites):
"It's no use going back to yesterday, I was a different person then."
In your garden, I definitely swallowed cherries whole, with the pits still inside.
You warned me my stomach ache would one day mean sprouting tree branches would shoot rapidly out my nose and up through my ears. There would be nothing to do about it once it took hold, trees were sneaky like that.
The paintings you made with your words and your wit nourished our imaginations. They invited us into your rich interior landscape to create with you. So much so, that I don’t think this particular cautionary tale had the desired effect, as your words held so much magic!
Although I kept mischievously eating the pits, that tree never grew. But, the seeds that you planted with care and creativity flourished. However not sprouting out our noses and ears where they could be seen. Your belief in us grew branches that strengthen our bones as we grow. The many stories you have told us blossom in our minds and bear fruit when we need inspiration. With every patient and loving gesture, you pulled away the weeds and allowed us to thrive.
You, Grampa, have planted the seeds for who we all are today. Our unique breed of humour, our ability to live in entirely our own worlds and the vision to make this world more joyful. You are why we stop and talk to magpies in the street and why we all laugh so much at our own jokes.
I know that even though I can't sit with you now and see you smile. I can close my eyes and allow all you fostered in me to lead me to joy. I am forever grateful for you.
Sadly, friends Ian and Barbara can’t be here today and so I am going to read these words on behalf of Ian,
I feel honoured to have been invited to make a contribution to this very sad occasion although, as I am shielding, I am unable to be here with you today.
Dave and I were close friends for over 60 years and he played a very large part in my life from the time we met. Although he spent several years working abroad, we always picked up our friendship on his return.
We first met at the home of a mutual friend and subsequently were always to be seen with three others, Mick, Noel and Dennis.
He had a good sense of humour. I remember an occasion when four of us went away together and stayed in a B & B. Late in the evening, returning to my room after washing, I found my bed on the landing!
Another memory from those days is when we were all at the family home in Fulham. Dave was playing his guitar when Dennis asked, “You can play some tunes, can’t you?”
Many times we left parties in my car, having drunk far too much, falling asleep at the kerbside – a different world, indeed! In fact, I was at the party where Joan and Dave first met, though I have no recollection of the location!
Later, Dave and I began meeting weekly, originally for a drink on a Friday night. Then, when Dave stopped drinking alcohol, we switched to a cream tea during the day. He really did enjoy his clotted cream!
For many years we went on 40 mile cycle rides in the Surrey hills, often twice a week and no, we didn’t stop at a pub for lunch! However, one place where we did frequently stop was the tea caravan at Headley Heath for a bacon roll. In fact my wife, Barbara, still associates them with Dave! He and Joan were at our wedding 49 years ago and she has always been very fond of them both.
Dave and I shared a wide range of interests including history, politics and philosophy. Family matters as well, obviously!
As I said previously, Dave was a huge factor in my life. I miss him immensely and will continue to do so.
From Clare a poem David wrote called ‘Jolly Brexiteer'
I am a Jolly Brexiteer
I’ve no idea what’s up
Nigel Farage he is my man
I’m as thick as a workhouse cup
We have Dave Davis and Rees Mogg
And little Mickey Gove
With IDS and Jack Redwood
They sometimes work hand in glove
They will not let the facts obscure
Their plan for making hay
Tax Haven it will make them fat
And you will rue the day
In Theresa May’s chaotic reign
They had a mighty fight
Though Brexit pointers were all dire
The Hedge Fund chiefs are right
Our new Great Chief will be BoJo
The Master of the Muddle
He will secure a good trade deal with Trump
Master of Twaddle
From Joan, who chose a poem entitled 'Devotion':
When was it that I knew?
That first glance my way
that I'd be with you.
That first kiss that stole away
my breath, my heart.
And now today
I am standing before you
With love and eternal grace
Jo, your loving wife.