Mr. HCB’s father, Alfred Henry, known as Harry, was a “gentle” man and a “gentleman”.  Born in Swindon in 1906, I’m not sure where he met Joan or Phyllis Evelyn Joan, to give her her full name, but they married in 1935 at the Methodist Central Hall and their first son, Derek (who with his wife, celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary a couple of weeks ago), was born in 1936.  

Mr. HCB was born in 1942 and soon after, Harry who had joined the Army, had to leave his wife and two sons and eventually ended worked as a Cook in India during the Second World War.  Mr. HCB tells the story of when his Daddy came home at the end of the war, but because Harry hadn’t been around for some years, Mr. HCB was frightened so ran and hid under the dining room table and was only coaxed out when offered sweets.  

Harry was a family man who liked nothing better than to be with his wife, his two sons and their families - in fact, one of the last photographs we have of him I took at his 70th birthday party, surrounded by his five grandchildren.

He was very fond of his garden, greenhouse and allotment - so that’s obviously where Mr. HCB gets it from - and loved to potter;  once he retired, he would be out all day, in the garden or allotment if it was fine, but in the greenhouse if it was raining.  

He had a bad bout of flu when he was 65, which left him with a weak heart, but he still loved to get out in the garden and do what he could, even though he could no longer do the heavy stuff.  In fact, just before he died suddenly, whilst he and Joan were on holiday with friends in North Wales in 1977, he had propagated a yellow carnation and was eager to get back from holiday to see if it had opened.  However, he never got to see it, but as the carnation had opened while they were away, this was put into his coffin for his funeral service.  

Harry was a patient man, always ready to help and offer advice, but never pushy - he was a builder by trade and just the week before he died, he had been up on a very tall ladder, pointing the chimney on our house - we watched him with trepidation, but there was no stopping him, if he had made up his mind he was going to do something.  

I remember on one occasion that Mr. HCB was getting very frustrated because he was trying to plaster a wall in our kitchen and the plaster just wouldn’t stick.  Because his parents lived just up the road, I remember going to their house and asking if his Dad would come and help and of course, he came straightaway.  It was amazing to watch him, flicking the plaster on to the wall and telling Mr. HCB that he needed to keep the wall wet or it would never stick - then handing over the trowel to let Mr. HCB finish it off.  

Mr. HCB says he often hears his Dad’s voice in his head if he is doing something in the garden, especially if he isn’t doing it the way Harry would have done it, such was his influence!

A much-loved father and grandfather, who is sadly missed and affectionately remembered especially on his birthday.  He was a wonderful role model for his sons and grandchildren and would have loved all his great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, although I’m not quite sure what he would have made of the toys and games in this technological age!

I made this collage of the men on our side of the family - Harry, in his army uniform at the top left - then from the top right, clockwise, Mr. HCB, our older son, Martyn, his son, Joshua, our younger son, Jules and his son, Harry.  The pinks are from our garden, in honour of Harry and to wish him a Happy Birthday.  I’m sure he would be proud of Mr. HCB and the way he looks after our garden and would be especially delighted with the pinks.

We are out for lunch today with Keith, Mr. HCB’s cricket buddy, who, although he is in his eighties, is jetting off to America very soon to see his son and family - and a new great-grandchild.  Another well-loved grandfather!

Please join me during 
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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“I believe that what we become 
     depends on what our fathers 
          teach us at odd moments, 
               when they aren't trying to teach us. 
We are formed 
     by little scraps of wisdom.” 
Umberto Eco : Foucault's Pendulum

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