Monday, 16 May 2011

Sadly, dad passed away

Sunday 15 May: At the age of 81 and after a very short illness, dad passed away yesterday at just gone 4pm. He wasn't in any pain and mum and Jon were there. My sister and I missed his passing by minutes, but all of us, including five of his seven grandchildren and other members of the family had surrounded his bedside (at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton) for the past week.

Dad with a Moggridge piano, March 2010.
It's hard to put into words exactly what we all felt about dad as I guess most people regard their own fathers as the very best. My dad was inspirational in so many ways. His enthusiasm, his moral code, his knowledge of right from wrong, made him stand out in the crowd. He gave me the best childhood ever, one that remains with me today, he's offered me the very best of life advice over the years and he's been a good friend, never one to bear a grudge, and always there to offer a solution to any problem.

Dad is the reason for so much in my life, including cycling. It was listening to dad's stories about how he and his pal Geoff used to cycle to the coast from Wandsworth to Worthing in the 1940s that inspired me to ride a bike. In fact, dad bought me my first bike and whenever I'm out on the road today, dad's always there somewhere.

There's a great book by Alan Sillitoe, entitled Down from the Hill, that in some way captures a mood that I associate with dad and cycling. Sillitoe was roughly the same age as dad and I think they both served in Malaya in the late forties. In fact, I think they've had contact with one another, by letter, although I can't recall the reason why: something to do with one of the books Sillitoe had written in his later years.

Dad loved writing too, of course, and has penned a comprehensive history of the Moggridge family dating back to the 1600s. My aim now is to get it in print for him, something that I know he would appreciate.

Fortunately – and thanks to Jon and our cousin Philip – Dad got to see a couple of Moggridge pianos. The photograph accompanying this post is of dad last March (2010) standing next to one of the pianos, both of which had been shipped over from the USA after an extensive search on the internet. Jon has one and Philip has the other.

Dad had a tremendous sense of humour, he loved life, he loved sport and he loved politics. An important part of his career in the civil service was when he found himself working in the Number 10 Downing Street press office under Joe Haines and alongside Harold Wilson and Ted Heath in the 1970s. I remember, as a child, when he accompanied Heath to Bermuda to meet Richard Nixon. He said he'd wave to us if he appeared on the television news – a promise, I recall, that he kept.

He went on to set up a press office for the Lord Chancellor of the time, Lord Hailsham and then was appointed regional director of the COI and put in charge of co-ordinating press activity surrounding royal visits.

Dad gave us all the very best of times. To this day we still visit Felpham on the West Sussex coast and remember those holidays in rented houses on the beach: Seafront, Merryweather and later Georgia, but not forgetting The Heron on Ancton Lodge Lane in Middleton-on-Sea – all of which are still there today.

Christmas time was always made special by dad. He went out of his way to make it an exciting and magical time and even rigged up a bell outside our bedroom window, attached to string, that he would pull once we were tucked up in bed.

I could write all day about dad's greatness, but I'll sign off on the fact that he lived a long and happy life, made all the happier by our mum who, right to the end, was there for him, providing words of comfort in his moments of need, words I'm sure he heard loud and clear and will remember in whatever world he now inhabits.

God rest his soul.


  1. So sorry mate. Sadly my best friend passed away this week. We are all upset in view of the situation. I have made a blog post too. So we share our greif even though we dont know each other.


  2. Thanks, Simon. You've probably gathered that NVL is now back in the public domain.