Colin Lawrence Eulogy
Delivered by Denise Lawrence at Colin's Thanksgiving Service held on Thursday 18th July 2013 in St Laurence Church, Appleton.
Colin was born in Windsor, 69 years ago, to Walter and Winnie Lawrence. They lived in Littlewick Green near Maidenhead and growing up Colin always had his brother John, older by 11 years, to look up to and learn from.
A few hundred metres from their family home down cherry garden lane was a bridge over the Great Western Main Line. From there Colin would watch in fascination as the steam trains thundered underneath, and no doubt try to get the engine driver to blow his whistle. The other side of the bridge was White Waltham Airfield, which post-war, while Colin was a young lad, still saw significant RAF use. You can imagine a young boy not knowing which way to look as a steam train approached whilst at the same time an RAF plane was taking off. This was where Colin’s keen interest in trains and planes must have started.
Colin went to Maidenhead Grammar school where he was hard working and enjoyed cross country.
During his teenage years Colin would work weekends at his Uncle Babe and Auntie Vi’s Cattle Farm. They treated him like their own son, taking him away with them on countless holidays and on leaving 6th form Colin went to work full time with his Uncle and Auntie.
Colin started his career in Lloyds bank in Reading, known then as the Executor and Trustee Department. It is there that he first met Diana, who worked for him for one month in 1966 while his then assistant Evan Ridley was on a training course. It was clear that Diana had made an impression on Colin because as soon as she was available to be appropriately asked out, he did so. On the 12th of September 1968 Colin and Diana had their first date at the Bells of Ouzeley pub, next to the river Thames in Old Windsor.
In 1969 Colin was made aware that he was going to be moved to a new branch of Lloyds opening in Swindon that year. Knowing that Diana was the one for him, and so not to be separated from her, he asked her father Alan for her hand in marriage. There was no prolonged engagement and on the 18th of October 1969 Colin and Diana married in Early, Diana’s home town within Reading, honeymooning in Dartmoor and Plymouth.
Colin and Diana bought their first home together in Bydemill Gardens, Highworth. Diana also managed to transfer to the same Swindon branch of Lloyds. Life was good in Highworth, enjoying holidays with Diana and family, going to classical concerts at the Albert Hall with friends and making what turned out to be close lifelong friends in their neighbours of Bydemill Garden. From their home, Colin watched early Concord training flights out of Fairford, knowing when to rush out into the garden as Concord would make the toaster in the kitchen rattle.
It was in Highworth that Colin and Diana started their family, born January 1977, his little blond haired girl Denise. There was one song that always reminded him of that amazing time, the arrival of your first born. Driving in his new car, an Austin Rover Maxi, from the hospital to wet his daughters head with friends, “Isn’t she lovely” by Stevie Wonder played on the car’s radio.
Graham was born four years later, an inconsiderately timed Christmas morning baby. Although the original Christmas plans had completely gone out the window, Colin made sure he didn’t go without the best roast of the year. Leaving Diana and Graham at the hospital he invited himself and Denise round to neighbour Diane Briggs to enjoy their Christmas feast.
We can only hope that Diane had the dinner plates at the hot temperature that Colin always insisted upon!
Colin was moved to the Oxford city centre branch of Lloyds and was commuting daily from Highworth. In the winter of 1982, on his daily drive, heavy snow left Colin stuck in Farringdon, spending an uncomfortable night sleeping on the floor of a hotel with other stranded motorists. When he finally made his way home safely he was welcomed into the close by Denise who had made an igloo with the neighbours. This spurred Colin to move closer to his place of work, and so after 13 fabulous years in Highworth he and family moved to Appleton the same year.
As a family man in a new village Colin got involved in many aspects of the community and village life, and was to make many close friends along the way.
Colin was a keen gardener and has always kept a very beautiful and immaculate garden, this must have been the influence of his mother and father as they were both also keen gardeners, and always kept a green house full of beautiful flowers.
He was an active member of the village gardening club, volunteering at the rectory shop and would organise the annual seed orders. At that time of the year you couldn’t see the living room carpet for the piles of seed packets that he would get Diana, Denise and Graham to bundle up with elastic bands ready for delivery around the village.
Colin put his profession to good use for the benefit of the village, auditing books for the village Guides, whilst Denise was a member and long after. He was Appleton’s 250 club treasurer for at least 2 decades, right up until this year. He was Appleton boy’s football club treasurer for many years, staunch supporter and taxi driver to away games whilst Graham played as a boy. It can’t have been much fun watching your team lose by double figures every weekend, but he never missed a game.
Colin volunteered for the village primary school, setting up and clearing away stalls at the yearly fetes. He helped with the fireworks and the building the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night, promising Denise there were no hedgehogs nesting before setting it alight. This would have undoubtedly added much time to the build as Colin wasn’t someone not to be true to his word.
Colin took his family away on holiday every year, without fail, all around Great Britain, and as international travel became more affordable to Switzerland and Canada. Strangely enough, holidays would always seem to be in close proximity to train lines or train visitor centres!
Colin moved from Lloyds Oxford, to Abingdon’s area office, Ock Street. During his career he spent many hours overtime at home desperately trying to keep Denise and Graham quiet while attempting to dictate letters on his Dictaphone.
Colin Retired in 2001 after just shy of 4 decades working for Lloyds Private Banking. On what was supposed to be Colin’s surprise retirement party his attention to detail and incredible memory shone through when he recognised all his friends and colleague’s car number plates in the pub car park, it was probably a good thing really as he wasn’t one for surprises!
In retirement, it was obvious to see that Colin was a much more relaxed man. He didn’t rest on his laurels though, instead filled his time with things he enjoyed.
Taking regular trips to previously unvisited areas of Great Britain and Ireland with Diana. Enjoying stately homes and gardens as well as being able to make more steam train trips, including driving one himself. He also enjoyed visiting Denise in Yorkshire and taking in its fantastic scenery on their walks together.
Colin was a keen twitcher and volunteered at RSPB Otmoor nature reserve helping to maintain the bird’s natural habitats. He also regularly attended RSPB talks to increase his knowledge and interest of bird life.
Right up until April this year Colin was a volunteer at the village shop, organising the papers and magazines.
Colin enjoyed air shows and it didn’t take much persuasion from Denise for him to become supporter of the Vulcan bomber. Colin, Diana and Denise visited Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire several times to see the renovation of the Vulcan HX558 to full flight. What did seem strange was when he kept applying for competitions to fly in a spitfire alongside the Vulcan, seemingly to forget he had a firm fear of flying!
He enjoyed maintaining his house and garden and helping both Denise and Graham with all sorts of DIY in their first homes, all work carried out to his meticulous standards.
Colin was thrilled with the arrival of his first grandchild, Lillian and enjoyed celebrating her first Christmas and many other precious moments.
That was a just a very small snap shot of Colin’s life, but what about the Man?
Colin was a selfless family man; everything he did was for others, generous to a fault.
Colin was a quiet and reserved man, never craving the lime light.
At work and in his personal life Colin was hard working, conscientious and fair. He was a careful man and some might say, a bit of a perfectionist.
Colin was also extremely determined, always positive and never complained, not even in his last days when he had every reason too.
Colin, as a husband, father, grandfather, Uncle and friend, you will sorely missed by those of us here you leave behind. It has been our great privilege to have our lives touched by you. You may be gone from our every day lives but we will always carry you in our hearts.