Saturday, 1 December 2012

Roy McPherson

Island Road, Barrow, where Roy lived
Roy, on right, pictured at my grandmother's funeral in 2002
was a man who was born and spent his whole life in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria (previously Lancashire).  Like almost all Barrow men he worked in the Vickers shipyards.  He never married, and lived all his life in the parental home on Barrow Island. Roy was my father's cousin, the only child of my paternal grandmother's older sister Winnie.  He was exactly a year younger than my father (they had the same birthday).  Roy died on 12th November this year, at the age of 81.  Part of my family's history passed away with him, so I wanted to remember him here.  I was rather fond of Roy, and sometimes used to send him postcards from places I had been.  But although part of my roots are in Barrow, and I have been there regularly all my life, ever since my grandmother used to take me there when I was a small child, I have never lived there, and my grandparents and the generation of great-aunts and uncles I knew as a child have all gone now.  So I cannot do better than reproduce below the eulogy given at Roy's funeral by his cousin's husband Eddie,  which I appreciated for its gentleness and humour.

Roy Henderson McPherson was born in Risedale Maternity Home Barrow on 20th April 1931, the only child of Albert (Mac) and Winnie McPherson, and soon went home to 20 Island Road, where Roy would continue to live for the whole of his 81 years.

After attending school, Roy started work in Boots the Chemist but after only a short while was accepted for an apprenticeship as a shipwright with Vickers Armstrong’s. Because of his protected employment status, National Service was deferred until Roy eventually joined the Army in 1952. Roy served in Egypt about the time of the ‘Suez Crisis’. After being demobbed from the military, Roy resumed at the shipyard where his was to remain for the rest of his working life.

In his spare time Roy was quite physically active. He enjoyed cycling and travelled many miles in company with his friends.

Roy also played rugby with Furness Rugby Union Club and after his playing career ended he took up the whistle and refereed local matches as part of the Furness Rugby Union Referees Society. Roy rose to be a referee assessor and was the appointments secretary for the Society. He was rewarded for this work by being appointed a Life Member of the Society.

Roy enjoyed travelling and as well as holidays in Europe with friends, Roy visited his cousin Win and her husband Ted in Africa and also visited another cousin, Pat, in Malta.

Roy was always well dressed and loved looking at the latest men’s clothing in Marks & Spencer and Mister Mr, sometimes travelling to Morecambe to have suits or jackets made to measure at a bespoke tailor.

Roy was very devoted to his mother and when we start to tidy his house we found his mum’s dressing gown and hair net still hanging on a hook on the back of her bedroom door, even though it is 25 years since she passed away

Roy also enjoyed his food and was a very good customer of the food section in Marks & Spencer and was on first name terms with many of the staff. He also enjoyed going out for meals and would always say yes if asked to join in a birthday or other celebration.

Roy took an interest in current affairs and recently much has been in the papers and on TV about same sex marriage. One day during his recent stay in hospital he asked me ‘In these relationships between two men how do they decide which one does the woman’s bits?’ I was wondering how to answer when in all innocence Roy added ‘You know the washing up, cooking and ironing’. That saved me being embarrassed at having to answer what I thought was the question.

When his cousin Win Mills returned to live in Barrow, following death of her husband Ted, Roy became very close to her. The pair would talk on the phone once or twice each day and it was a great loss to Roy when Win passed away earlier this year.

Roy will be greatly missed by his family, neighbours and his many friends. He was a generous, kind and gentle man, of which there are very few about today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And this is a wodnerful eulogy - the 'woman's bits' and the hairnet add real warmth and humour. RIP.