Today is my father’s 90th birthday. It turns out he is just one day older than Kenneth Kaunda, the first president of Zambia, where I am writing this tribute. He has had an amazing, full life.
He was born in Ferryhill, and has always lived in County Durham. Whilst still at school, he started work as a butcher’s apprentice. During World War Two, he volunteered for the Royal Air Force and flew in Avro Ansons, for Coastal Command. After the war, he became a “Bevan Boy” and worked as a miner, fixing up the pumping system to keep the pit dry. He married Phyllis, from another mining village, Easington Colliery, and they moved into a house shared with another family, in Gordon Terrace. Next month, they will have been married for 66 years.
For most of his life, he was a dairyman. He started off using a horse and cart, later a van, to deliver milk to the village. After he sold the business, he trained as a health inspector, and then in electronics, but finally he worked as a postman until his retirement.
He is very fit for a nonagenarian. He enjoys walking and can still do 20 press ups! But unfortunately he has become very hard of hearing. This is sad, because he loves music and cannot play his electronic organ. He can’t use the telephone, but he has become a “silver surfer” and keeps in touch with me and his granddaughters via the internet.
I regret that I am not able to be with him for his birthday. He knows I love him very much and greatly appreciate all the love, help and support he has given me over the years. He is a wonderful man and I wish him many more birthdays to come. I am sure his three granddaughters will join me saying this.
Crack open that bottle of single malt I gave you, and pour yourself a wee dram, dad. And congratulate yourself on a life well lived.