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Dick Watton


delivered at his memorial service.

Dick was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham on 22nd July 1912. His father's employment with Lloyds Bank meant that the family moved house several times and Dick's early education was received first from his mother, then from a governess. The latter he shared with a young girl called Betty Potts who later became his cousin by marriage, Betty Ragg. Dick's later education was at Handsworth Wood School - sometimes reached by pony and trap - and King Edwards in the city of Birmingham to which he travelled by tram. In 1929, on his 17th birthday, be bought his first driving licence. No test was needed. In fact it was only at the age of 91, spurred on by his daughter's scepticism about his suitability to drive, that he sought an assessment of his driving skills from Hampshire County Council. With a few words of advice, they passed him fit to retain his licence, and his independence. That put Barbara in her place!

In 1931, he too joined Lloyds Bank and, in his words, 'slaved' for them for 70 a year less 5% superannuation. When his father was appointed Manager of West Southbourne branch, Dick also moved to the Bournemouth area. In 1939 his banking qualifications allowed him to join the Royal Naval Reserve as a sub lieutenant, and after some initial training he helped to set up the Naval Control service in Le Havre, routing ships around the minefields. He left there in 1940 to become Secretary to the Chief of Staff in Liverpool. In both locations he seems to have used his charms on the female population. In his diaries he recalls the care of the nurses in Le Havre, and in Liverpool, how the Wrens used to let him sleep in the armchair through the night while he waited for signals to arrive.

Dick's move to Milford Haven in 1941 was to look after naval stores, but he was not too busy for a blind date in November 1942 when he was introduced to Audrey. Their fleeting courtship, but lasting romance, must be known to many of you. Engagement February '43, marriage 10 weeks later. And then? Two and a half years separation while Dick travelled around the world to postings in the Mediterranean, Colombo, Perth, Sydney and finally Hong Kong where his ship, The Guardian, delivered millions of dollars to restart the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank.

In the early 50s Dick escaped from Lloyds and moved in a completely different direction to take on Tuckton Tea Gardens, near Christchurch. This comprised a restaurant facility, garden and boat hire business. He was also responsible for inaugurating the ferry service from Tuckton, via Christchurch Quay, to Hengistbury Head in a boat which he named the BarbieB after his young daughter. She used to 'help' with the boats and the garden - interests she maintains to this day.

The rest of Dick's working life was equally varied. He made long and lasting friendships through a Christian organisation called Planned Giving. Travelling to parishes around the country, he helped to set them on a financially stable footing through regular contributions from their parishioners. In contrast, he became a Liaison Officer with the Orient Line keeping emigrants to Australia happy on the long journey to their new homes. He would organise parties for the crossing of the date line and knew all the bingo calls - legs 11 and two fat ladies 88 - were among his favourites!

By 1957 home life had moved to New Milton and remained on the south coast apart from the time Dick spent surrounded by the young ladies of Headington High School in Oxford where he was bursar for two years. As always the family became involved in the local church - in this case Kidlington - and more lifelong friends were made. Other churches where Dick was involved included Holdenhurst, the mother church of Bournemouth, Hinton Admiral, where he played the organ, and latterly New Milton and Lymington where he has been on the PCC, a sidesman and a Churchwarden.

Towards the end of his working life Dick returned to the Bank but changed his allegiance to the National Provincial - later NatWest - working in Ringwood, Fordingbridge and finally, Lymington. After early retirement due to increasing hearing problems, he took up the part time role of bursar at Walhampton School. This provided the perfect setting for our wedding reception in 1973.

When the family was increased by two granddaughters Dick was delighted. He and Audrey used to have them to stay at Melbury Close, where he supervised their favourite game of traffic lights. Dick was a real family man, devoted to all of us. When Audrey died in 2002, he made a huge effort to go on as before. With his new found culinary skills he continued to entertain friends and family and was a keen player of the card game 'May I?' Dick's hobbies undoubtedly kept him physically fit. In the early days it was tennis, then cycling, rambling and bowls. He made gallons of wine - and some of it was even drinkable! He and Audrey were always organising short break holidays and he was very knowledgeable about many parts of the country. If he couldn't get to sleep at night he would recite the counties of England as they used to be. He became a Southampton City Guide and a regular volunteer to man St Michael's Church during the summer season. Many of you have been good enough to refer to Dick's kindness in visiting, or taking out those who were sick or without transport. In the last 6 months we know that this kindness has been repaid. His sudden loss of independence began with his relinquishing the car keys last July and although he kept up his travel through 'busabouts' and train trips his confidence dwindled. We cannot thank you enough for your visits over these last six months and to note the wonderful care he received at Monmouth House.

It has been tremendously difficult to pack 92 happy and action packed years into such a short piece, but we hope most of you can relate to some part of these reflections and may also have gained a little more insight into the man that was Dick - a true gentleman to the end.


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