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DavidSt Helena Hospice
In loving memory of David Stanley Clarke who sadly passed away on 15th September 2021. Middlesex born and bred, he was a keen sportsman in his youth and a lifelong Ipswich Town fan. A loving husband to the late Carole, father to Deborah and Jacqui, grandfather to Siobhan, Ciara, Kathleen and George, and great grandfather to Leah and Maggie. Loving brother to Kath and the late Ted, and friend to many.
The funeral service will be at 11:45am on Monday 4th October at Colchester Crematorium, Mersea Road, Colchester, CO2 8RU followed by a wake at the Berechurch Arms, 177 Shrub End Road, Colchester, CO3 4SL. All are welcome, but please let us know you are coming so we can organise the catering accordingly.
Dad had wonderful treatment in his battle with lung cancer from St Helena Hospice, and any donations to them will be gratefully received. However if you would like to send flowers, they are welcome too and should be forwarded to Freedom Funerals, Freedom House, Hawkins Road, Colchester, CO2 8JY to arrive prior to 9am on the day please.
For those unable to attend and who would still like to be part of giving Dad the send off he deserves, the link to view the funeral remotely on Zoom is https://watch.obitus.com/ya34mu and the log in details are as follows: user name: kodi6052 - password: 109852. It will be live at the time or available to view online for 28 days afterwards.
Dad was a one off, with a wicked sense of humour so please feel free to share any memories you may have of him on this page. We would love to hear from you.
Edited 5th October 2021 - This is the eulogy I would have given if I’d had time to read it out: I hope you’re sitting comfortably. So I’ll begin….
Dad was born in Isleworth in Middlesex, and lived in the county all his life apart from the last ten years when he lived in Clacton. He lived in Carr Road in Northolt during the war years, when he used to give his mum Margaret palpitations by standing on the Anderson shelter and shooting a pretend gun at German planes as they flew over. Later they moved to Hanwell, and then Greenford where he attended Stanhope School. He loved telling us that in his first ever football match there he scored six goals and was given a mention in assembly. Dad was a very keen sportsman in his youth and apart from being a great footballer, a left footer if anyone’s interested, he was also a keen basketball player and excelled at cycle speedway. In fact speedway remained a passion of his for the rest of his life. And despite being Middlesex born and bred, he was a lifelong Ipswich Witches fan. But he also loved football and supported Ipswich Town. The reason for his love of Ipswich was that his Dad, Stanley, was from Suffolk from a renowned family of millwrights. As a child dad used to stay with his relatives in Belvue Road Ipswich and would watch Town play. Whenever anyone got talking to him about it he would tell them how he used to stand on railway sleepers to watch the matches. I went to numerous Town matches with Dad when I was younger and he passed on his passion for them to me and my sister. In 2016 Jacqui and Dad went to a quiz at Portman Road; and she took him down the tunnel and on to the pitch. That made his day. One final mention on football was Dad’s habit of describing someone by the team they supported. For example “that fella in the newsagents, Arsenal man” that sort of thing. Never stopped making us smile even having heard it a lifetime.
He met our mum Carole when they were about fifteen or so, and it apparently wasn’t quite love at first sight as he told mum “you’re going to have a double chin when you’re older”, which naturally didn’t impress her that much and she told us she thought to herself “I don’t like him”. Fortunately for us younger members of the family they met up again a couple of years or so later at Sanderson wallpaper factory where they were both working and mum had obviously got over her first impression as they started going out. Their courtship was interrupted by Dad’s two year stint in the Royal Signals for national service when he was in his late teens but mum waited for him to come back. He was sent to Malaya where there was civil unrest and told us a number of stories of his escapades. On one occasion he left his platoon to go to the toilet; and when he got back he found they’d gone without him. He had to walk through hostile territory on his own to rejoin them. On another occasion he was cleaning his gun and it went off; with the bullet whizzing past his face. Not exactly what you’re taught to do in basic training. He was the youngest in the platoon and if there was any climbing to be done, for example over fences and hedges to steal fruit from trees, he was always the one who had to do it. Luckily despite the mishaps he came home safe and sound and they were married in 1961. If anyone knows the area they were the last couple to be married in the old church of Our Lady of the Visitation. They had the choice of being the last in the old or the first in the new church and they chose the old one.
Mum and Dad moved to Northolt after their wedding, and they spent the rest of their married life in various addresses there until Mum passed away in 2003. They had a very loving marriage, which was filled with laughter as they both had a very keen sense of the ridiculous and we all have memories of them finding something funny and both being in fits of giggles. The marriage also had sadness as mum suffered badly with health issues which saw her hospitalised quite frequently; but Dad just got on with it and never complained. They had two children, me, Deborah, in 1964 and Jacqueline in 1969. We were both surrounded by unconditional love and couldn’t have asked for better parents. Later there were grandchildren, my daughters Siobhan and Ciara, and Jacqui’s children Kathleen and George. And more recently there were great granddaughters Leah and Maggie. Although Dad was thrilled with all the girls in his family he was very pleased after lots of girls to have a grandson who shared his interest in boxing. He also told George more of his army stories that he probably considered too gory for the girls. George loved going round to see his grandad to spend time with him and watch classic British comedies such as the Carry On films, Monty Python and Dad’s Army. In fact all his grandchildren loved spending time with Dad as he’d spoil them all rotten and make them laugh with his silly voices and sayings, quotes from Stanley Holloway monologues being a special favourite of his.
Dad loved spending time with his grandchildren, and often looked after Kathleen, who amazed him with her lack of fear of heights as she shimmied up playground equipment as other older children stayed on the ground. She was obviously a chip off the old block. In fact I think all his grandchildren and great grandchildren have that same cheeky and adventurous spirit. And thank goodness for that. Dad used to regal us with the story of how he was once on the top deck of a bus and Kathleen yelled out “grandad are we going to the pub?” As it happens they were, but that’s not the point is it?
The experience of climbing up fruit trees and telegraph poles when he was in the army naturally lent itself to him becoming a scaffolder when he came back to civvie street. A trip through London and the suburbs was an education. He’d point at buildings as we went along “I worked on that”, and then he’d reel off the date he worked there explaining how he knew by saying “and I’ll tell you for why” which was linked normally to a historical event. It was his catchphrase. But back to the buildings, to this day my daughters point at the Natwest Tower and say “grandad built that”. I think he may have had help, but I know what they mean.
Jacqui and I have been thinking of stories of dad. To be fair, another one of his sayings, I think the life and times of Dave Clarke could make a documentary all of it’s own but here are a few that came to mind. One thing he was very proud of is that once while walking down Greenford Broadway as a young man Princess Margaret was being driven past in an official car. Dad was the only one in the street at the time and she waved at him. Mind you, he was a good looking lad. Not sure he ever told mum about that. But it did please him. Another one I suspect he didn’t mention to mum was meeting Jayne Mansfield at Pinewood studios. In fact he met quite a lot of famous faces at various jobs he worked on. Tony Selby, of Get Some In fame, Wendy Craig, and Felicity Kendall. All of whom he was really impressed with. Though my memory of famous people was sitting in the beer garden of the local pub where he’d point out the QPR footballers who had popped in for a drink as their training ground was just up the road. I probably learnt more about QPR in that garden than I ever did from TV.
As I say, there are many memories of Dad that make us laugh and I’d like you to turn to the back page of the order of service now. I’m sure you’ve all had a look while I’ve been rattling on anyway but you may have wondered what it was all about? Now let me tell you. Dad needed to get a photo for his bus pass so went to the photobooth at his local supermarket to get one done. There was an old boy (his words) in front of him and Dad helped him to set it all up and get his photo’s no problem. Then Dad went in to do his; and this photo is what came out. A miserable little face surrounded by a Happy Halloween motif. He was not impressed. He went to customer services to complain. Apparently customer services were unable to help him, though I’m sure they cried with laughter when he’d gone, and he went home disgruntled where he showed it to Jacqui. Funnily enough she cried with laughter. She then sent it to me; and I cried with laughter. We shared it on Facebook and our friends cried with laughter, in fact one of our friends told us recently that she saved it and looks at it whenever she needs cheering up. In the end dad accepted that that was probably two pounds well spent with the joy it gave the world. He still begrudged the money mind, as he couldn’t work out what had gone wrong.
Dad moved to Clacton in 2011; and Jacqui and George followed soon after to nearby Suffolk. I went through a phase of not working Wednesdays so we used to all go out, along with Dad’s sister Kath, for meals quite regularly. These were really good times. Though Jacqui remembers one occasion when I wasn’t there and they had got out of the car but dad had the passenger door open. Suddenly a huge great mastiff dog jumped into the passenger seat and just looked out of the window screen as if looking forward to a trip out. Apparently “what the bloody hell?” came bellowing out of the car from the drivers side. Jacqui and Kath were in hysterics. I can only assume the dog left peaceably and found someone else to take him out.
As you all know, Dad had a wicked sense of humour. One memory that sticks in my mind was one from recent years of him telling me he had traded his bike in at the second hand shop for a new one. Unfortunately the new one, although a mans bike, was pale blue with flowers on. He bumped into a neighbour on the way home and she asked him if he’d become a hippy? Dad wasn’t having any of that; he went straight to QD and bought some black paint and repainted it. He told me “I’ve told the neighbours to call me the black shadow”. You couldn’t make him up.
Or of course there was the time when he was appointed fire marshall at his retirement scheme block of flats. The alarms went off and he ushed people outside and liaised with the fire brigade. When he went back to his flat he found it full of smoke and the fire service in there. Oops. It was something in his kitchen that had set it all off. All was fine, but it did make us laugh.
Another thing about Dad is that he loved people. He loved sitting on a bench at Clacton sea front and chatting to people who’d sit down next to him. He was in his element when he had someone to talk to. If you left him alone for a few minutes you’d always find him in conversation with someone when you came back. He once was in a café in Cambridge on a pensioners holiday and the renowned physicist Steven Hawkins sat at his table. So what do you say to the worlds most eminent scientist? “It’s a bit parky outside innit” apparently is the correct approach. What Dr Hawkins thought of the inclement weather is not recorded. But it does sum Dad up, whether it be a toff or a peasant he’d talk to anyone. I used to joke he could find someone to talk to in an empty room.
The last year has been tough. Dad was diagnosed in September 2020 with lung cancer and COPD. He tried to keep as positive as he could but it was heart breaking to see him lose his independence. He used to say to me “what would my scaffolder mates say if they could see me now”? I told him that they may well be having the same problems. But we take comfort that Dad is now with mum, and we discovered after he died that he carried a photograph of her in his wallet, which went everywhere with him. They are now reunited and laughing in heaven. But for those of us who are left ultimately, when we think of dad we think of laughter and family. Dad’s mantra was if his children and grandchildren were happy, he was happy. But he extended that laughter to his friends and neighbours; and I think Dad’s legacy is that he will always be remembered with a smile. My Dad, Dave Clarke. An Ipswich man.