My Father’s Eulogy

This is the eulogy I wrote for my father’s funeral which took place on Monday 14th January 2012

Terence James Versey

My father, Terry, or TV as I’ll refer to him for the rest of the eulogy, was the first born of Francis and Mary Versey who were known to all as Jimmy and Molly. He came into the world on September 30th 1947 and was joined over the next 5 years by two brothers Paul and Chris.

They grew up together in the family home in Cornwall Road. I’m going to fast forward a few years now as I believe Chris will be featuring the childhood years in his speech.

When TV left school which would be the early 60’s he started out as a trainee butcher but soon swapped the knives for trowels when he joined Rogers Brothers as an apprentice plasterer.

Rogers were based in Walton and at the time were the biggest employers in the Felixstowe area and I see a few of you out there also plied your trade with the old man. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been speaking to a few of TV’s old Rogers’ colleagues.  Barry Gilder and Kenny & Steve Rogers recalled tales of full 11 a side football matches over the rec during lunch breaks and the sort of builders shenanigans that made Auf Wiedersehen Pet look like Mary Poppins.

Towards the back end of the 60’s there were 2 events that would shape TV’s life for the next 25 years.

First he met Susan who not only became his wife but became my mother. At the time of TV meeting my future mum she already had two children. My two older sisters Tracey and Paula. Within 18 months TV had taken on Tracey and Paula as his own and I had joined the family and we all lived together in Philip Avenue.

Just after hooking up with mum TV also started working for the dock company. The year was 1969 and he started as a fresh faced 21 year old along with Dave Brunning and Ginger Lloyd!

In 1972 my parents decided to marry (yes that does make me what a lot of you have called me over the years!) and we moved into Beaconfield.

In 1975 Rory came along and we were joined 5 years later by another sister Tamara. So by late 1980 the family unit was complete.

Speaking with my brother and sisters we all came up with early and favourite memories of TV:-

Tracey – Tracie recalls being very little maybe 2 or 3 years and TV buying her some Dinky toys as they were her favourites. She also reminisced about the footballing glory years of which I’ll talk more of later.

Paula – TV was a retained fireman for many years and Paula’s first memory is off the massive bell that would go off for about an hour in our hall way when there was a fire. She also recalls the Sunday afternoons where we’d walk to Dougie Goodhalls and get crabs and sprats then come home to fried sprats for tea and the sight of live crabs playing on the kitchen floor before being stuck in a pan of hot water.

Jamie – One of my first memories of TV was way back in 1975. Ipswich had drawn Club Bruge of Belgium in the UEFA cup and won the 1st leg at Portman Road 3-0. TV had made the away trip with friends. In those days it was a doddle. Ferry from Felixstowe job done. Anyway the memory is coming down into our kitchen for breakfast and I see TV putting his Ipswich scarf into the bin. At 5 and a half I had no idea what football clubs could do to people. Ipswich had lost the away leg 4-0 and crashed out of Europe. A favourite memory was a repeated memory. Again it involved football. Imagine the scene. I’ve got a mate round watching the big game and TV was in the kitchen making tea. Myself and my mate which was invariably my cousin Darren or Jason Evans would randomly shout GOAL and cheer a little. TV would rush back into the front room thinking that he’d missed a pivotal moment in the game. We got him every time!

Rory – Rory has a few memories he’d like me to share with you all. The first was on one of our many family holidays to Scotland. TV took Rory to Princess Street and bought him a green tartan flat cap. I think Rory was 8. He looked like Benjamin Button! It was whilst wearing this cap a good few years later we feature Rory’s next favourite memory. TV, Rory and myself were on the way back from a few quick Sunday lunchtime pints and the snow had fallen. We approached Tony Hockley’s allotment and Rory decided to pelt TV with snowballs. TV turned on his heel to scarper away. He misjudged the ground under him and down he went. Rory and myself then proceeded to cover him in snow. Rory’s next memory comes from the time TV helped him renovate the old stable house in Cornwall Road. The ground floor was to be gutted out and extended and walls/ceilings etc to be replaced. The old ceiling was lathe and plaster and TV was having a whale of a time swinging the pick axe into the ceiling ripping down the old ceiling. Until he hit a snag. The previous occupants had fixed a whole in the ceiling with cement. Imagine the scene. TV swings the pick axe and it sticks into the rock hard cement. He doesn’t let go of the handle so he flies through the air like King Louie from Jungle Book and collapses in a heap on the dusty old floor.

Tamara – Tamara’s first memory is of TV helping out with the weekly swimming classes at Causton school and attending all the school trips. She’s not sure if it was due to his top parental skills or the fact that he fancied the teacher! – She also mentions his home made spare ribs being the best shes ever had.

That’s the memories over with but before I carry on I want to share one more with my siblings. They’ll all know what I mean when I say IT’S IN THE GRILL!

What else can I tell you about TV? Musically he was a big Neil Diamond fan and much to our disdain as kids the stereo would often be playing country & western of some description. He wasn’t a great reader. I can recall him reading the odd sports book and when I was a kid he did have some glossy magazines with ladies in them! Sport was his thing. Football and cricket (a Surrey man) were his main staple but he’d sit and watch absolutely anything sport related.

I suppose his biggest passion in life was the Labour Club. For as long as I can recall we’d spend weekend after weekend in the club and TV would spend his week days there too! He played football and snooker for the club and for many years served on the committee.

If I had to pick one event which was the pinnacle of TV’s life I’d say it was when he managed the Labour Club football side with Dennis Chaplin. Together they took the side from the lowly depths of division 12 to the heady heights of the top division challenging the Ipswich big boys for silverware.

The greatest day came on the Easter Sunday of 1990 at Hadleigh United Football Club. FT&LC FC had reached the final of the Suffolk Shield and played Haverhill Meat Cutters. We romped home 2-0 with goals from Mark Erskine and a sublime overhead kick by Ian McKinnon. We had become the first Felixstowe side EVER to win a Suffolk Sunday cup. TV’s name was chanted all the way back to the labour club. It was a proud day.

The party went on into the wee small hours and there were several headaches the next day.

Around 1991 TV took redundancy from the dock and that’s when things took a turn for the worst. Tracey and Paula had both moved out and life at home rapidly deteriated which led to my parents divorce in 1993.

I shared a place with TV for the next few years until 1997 when my own relationship with him deteriated leading to an estrangement that was never reconciled.

It would be churlish and a touch hypocritical of me not to mention TV’s battle with the drink. He like most of us here today enjoyed a bit of a wind down but unfortunately the Whiskey got hold of TV and it was a battle which has ultimately led us here.

Despite his illness taking a firmer hold on him as the years progressed he still enjoyed his life to the full and still had an eye for the ladies. Just before his 60th birthday he walked Sheila home from a family birthday party and they struck up a friendship. After a while he moved in with Sheila and they enjoyed almost 6 years together.

They enjoyed many a holiday together to the lochs and glens of Scotland and Sheila tells me in the 6 years they were together they never had one cross word.

Over the past 3 years TV’s health deteriated but Sheila was always by his side and made his last few years both happy and comfortable for which we are all grateful for.

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