Memorial Service St Nicholas Church, Thames Ditton 23rd August 2016
By Peter Eastwood
I first met Ron at Wandsworth Grammar School sixty-seven years ago when we were both thirteen years old, although at school he was known as “Jock”. He was an excellent sportsman, a very good cross country runner for the school team, and together we played cricket, countless games of competitive tennis on the red shale at Wimbledon Park, and many games of football (Ron’s lifelong passion) for various teams, and with Jim Edwell and Sheldon Whitesman enjoyed many film trips, dances, and Chinese meals. We used to talk about the many amazing late night discussions with Jim’s Dad Frank especially when the first Sputnik was launched which he claimed was impossible. When we played the recording picked up from the satellite and said that was the Sputnik passing over London, Frank came up with the immortal words: “How do you know?” When Ron lived in his flat in Putney, he was a frequent visitor to my Mum and Dad’s house in Earlsfield, and my Mum looked on him as a second son and to me he was the brother I never had.
Several holidays we spent together included:
• The Cruise of the Vanois on the Norfolk Broads where we discovered it was one thing to jump down from the deck onto the towpath, but quite another to get back on board after an evening at the Ferry Inn on Hickling Broad! Although Ron became an excellent sailor in later life, he did manage to run us aground on the Broads, and was quite unable to explain how he did this on open water with no traffic in sight.
• We went on a cycling youth hostel holiday around East Anglia which we discovered was not flat as we had been told. I remember Ron being most indignant when he was caught sweeping everything under the bunks by the Saffron Warden youth hostel warden, when it had been clearly been happening for months.
• We had a memorable holiday in 1966 in Dawlish, which was during England’s winning World Cup tournament, when my son Simon and Stephanie were small babies. Ron and I managed to eat our meals in record time, leaving Jennifer and Wendy with the children, so we could sneak off with every other man to watch the games on TV.
I had the privilege of being Ron’s best man when he married his lovely bride Jennifer Brown and we had the joy of watching our respective children, Stephanie and Colin, and Simon and Claire, grow up together. When my wife Wendy died and I was at a very low ebb, Ron phoned to say he was picking me up at 10am next morning and took me to lunch at Kintbury which was both very kind and very thoughtful and also very helpful to me.
For the last sixteen years a group of school friends Jim Edwell, Sheldon Whitesman, Tony Savage, Terry Phillips, and Duncan Livingstone and me have met with Ron regularly for coffee at the Rubens Hotel in Victoria and lunch at Olivo’s (always organised by Ron who also used his expertise to order the wine) and trips down the River Thames to Greenwich.
The last time we met was only last January – which now becomes a very precious memory. Ron has been a great and faithful friend to me for so many years that it is really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us. Such friends are to be cherished and appreciated and I and my friends know we have all done that to the best of our ability.
Our thoughts and prayers are of course with Jennifer and Stephanie and Colin and their families. Ron was such a proud dad and granddad and a great friend and we will all miss him more than I can say.