Tribute to Mr Henry Alastair Vick born 8th May 1920 died 24th March 2012 If I may, I’d like to preface what I have to say with 3 short observations. 1. First it would be inappropriate to deliver any appreciation of Dad without linking it closely to Mum. They were together as a couple for some 60 years and if you add the war years for some 65. What each of them achieved or delivered was done so because of their relationship. As Jane pointed out the other day, we’re not sure whether mum will be ready to receive him back in her company, but one thing’s certain; she’ll be checking her hearing aid to make sure it can still be turned down; and when necessary - off. 2. Second, I may be speaking the words, but they are on behalf of not just Jane Henry and I, but of all those that both Mum and Dad regarded as their family. 3. Third I know Dad would wish to pay tribute to Henry for all he has done for both Mum and Dad and specifically during the last 7 years. Henry, we both know that Dad was never one for outward shows of affection or appreciation, but I can say with absolute conviction that Dad’s appreciation for what you have done for him was absolute. I remember thinking at Uncle James’ funeral what an ordeal it must have been for Jim when he said a few words about his father. I was wrong; it’s no ordeal at all. It is a pleasure, an honour and a privilege to pay tribute to my father just as it was for Jim. What a life. Dad lived to nearly 92; that’s over 33,500 days or 2.9 billion seconds. We are at the end of an Era. Nunga and Poppy had four children; all survived the war; all had a good innings; three lived well into their 90’s. There must be some form of longevity Gene in the family. They didn’t have a privileged childhood, but Uncle James, Auntie Mu, Uncle Ian and Dad weren’t deprived either. He recalled with pleasure the family holidays at the cottage in Alnham both before and after the war. He was proud of his time at Morrison’s Academy in Crieff; in particularly of two achievements. 1. The first was of course being awarded the Macrosty medal “for the boy with the best influence on the life of the school”. 2. The second was actually for failure, but falls into the category of a commendable near miss. His ambition was to break the top window of the upstairs library with a towering “6” from the cricket pitch which was at least 60 feet below the window level and at least 60 yards away from the building itself. He failed, but was immensely proud to have come close on more than one occasion. He also reckoned he came close to the hitting the clock on the side of Bamburgh Castle, but I suspect there was an element of exaggeration in this claim. 3. I believe however his proudest achievement at school was something quite different. Morrison’s Academy was a boarding school and there was both a boy’s and a girl’s school. I have no doubt he regarded his greatest achievement was in his own words “I never got caught”. He left school in the summer of 1939 at the age of 19. He had been awarded a place at Cambridge University to read Law, but in September 1939 he joined up. He didn’t need to; but he did; and like millions of others he spent the next 6 years of his life not knowing from one day to the next whether it might be his last. He never talked much about the war; he recounted “funny” incidents rather than sad or traumatic ones. He realised that many of his school colleagues, who did take up their university places were far better placed to develop highly successful and lucrative careers after the war. But he had no regrets and was always certain he did the right thing. He met mum while doing his training in Winchcombe in 1939. They didn’t meet again until 1945. Mum wrote to him throughout this 6 year period and by all accounts kept him well supplied with cigarettes. I think he always knew he was onto a good thing with Mum; she offered all a man could want. She was a woman and she lived in a pub.
Like all couples, they had their ups and downs; I no doubt caused my share of the downs. They did everything together. They always had an hour together when Dad came home from work; as children, we just had to sort ourselves out, while they had “their time”. As dad travelled more widely in his job, they often took the caravan to Scotland, Ireland and the Lake District. Their caravan became an office, a hotel as well as a home. They enjoyed regular holidays abroad together, and regularly returned with tales about how they were left in charge of little Spanish bars up in the mountains. They spent nearly 60 years together and above all were simply best friends. They must have been friends; if I recall correctly his pet name for mum was Brat. Dad was devastated when mum passed away, but he managed to develop his own way of living and looking after himself (with a lot of help from Henry) until he was nearly 91. Mum & Dad’s commitment to family was second to none. Not just their own children, but to the wider family of Vicks, some of whom were scattered across the globe. We enjoyed many family meals at Grafton Road during the shorter school holidays. I recall Mum could never quite come to terms with Dennis demanding second helpings before she had even managed to sit down. Dad wasn’t outwardly religious, but he had an acute awareness of conscience. He was fair. He was loyal to his principles and maintained them consistently. He was deeply committed to serving his family. He paid meticulous attention to detail; nothing annoyed him more than a birthday cheque not paid in before the end of the month. He loved his sport, rugby, cricket, and squash in particular. It might not be known to many here, but both Mum and Dad were champions of Tynemouth Squash club in the early 1950’s. Dogs were his passion; he could not pass a dog in the street without stopping to talk and pet it. He was a social animal, but at the same time he was also happy with his own company. It’s not appropriate to finish on a sad note, but it would be remiss of me not to recognise the last few years have been difficult for him. He remained fully aware mentally; he retained his indomitable spirit and sense of humour; but his physical capability gradually declined. It has been hard for him in the last year. I know he has received excellent care during the last year in the Wansbeck Care Home, but he has found it more and more difficult to live with the mind and the spirit of a 60 year old in the body of a 90 year old. He is in some sense in a happier place now, and that is in itself a comfort. Finally, please excuse me while I indulge myself. I’ve been waiting for this moment for nearly 50 years. Ever since I’ve been able to go to a pub on my own and succumb to the various temptations that might be placed in our path. On almost every occasion of us meeting during the last 50 years Dad has provided me with exactly the same words of wisdom and advice as we have parted company. Now at last it’s my turn. Dad, wherever you are going; whatever you plan to do there; please remember Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do; and if you do. Don’t get caught”.