My brother Chris was 6 years older than me. That may not seem many years difference at this stage of life but growing up as siblings in the little village in Gloucestershire where our father was the village headmaster , it was a big gap.
That age difference coupled with the fact that Chris and I had different personalities, he being the serious studious type and me being outdoor sporty type meant that we did not actually “play” together much.
In fact the only incident that I can remember from those early days is that I managed to find out, much to his annoyance, Chris’s school nickname , seedy, based upon his initials. Whilst I guess he could stand being called that at his school there was no way he could tolerate it from his young runt of a brother resulting in much chasing around the garden!!
After leaving our father’s primary school in the village Chris travelled every day the 9 miles into Gloucester to Sir Thomas Riches Grammar School whereas I was packed off to boarding school at the age of 10 mainly because that Education Authority redrew the catchment boundaries for schools so I could not go to the same school as Chris. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise as I wonder whether Chris could have coped with me at the same school!
I guess his love of railways was nurtured at this stage with his journey to school by train. Our house was just an open field away from the railway track and station. Chris summed this up so well in one of his wonderful poems which I would love to read you the first verse;
When I was late, the signal’s warning clang
Would catch me running down the bumpy field,
Dodging the cow flops and the tussocked grass
To sprint along the line and cross the bridge
Before the local train pulled out to join
The long straight miles of track that led to school
At night the “push and pull” sat in the bay
Until the down express had cleared its path
Then clattered out to drop me in the dusk
And chunter off along the Forest branch.
At about this time Chris also started off my love of classical music by giving me a 78 record of Schubert’s March Militaire. I was overwhelmed with his generosity until I realised on the first time of playing it that the needle stuck on the second side and needed a nudge to carry on!!
Before taking up his Exhibition at Corpus Christi Oxford Chris did 2 years National Service as a radar operator at RAF Borgentreich in Germany. I never really imagined Chris as a squaddie and true to form he managed to get himself in charge of the camp library which got him out of some square bashing duties. He also had a side line importing Long Playing records from England for people on the camp. This avoided paying Purchase Tax so his was a much used service. It also came in useful once when having fallen asleep on guard duties one night he was up for punishment from his Commanding Officer whose only comment was “Ah Price when are my records coming in !!”
At that time whilst we were both at home on holiday we shared a bedroom and whilst I used to scare him with my sleep walking he would get his own back by sitting bolt upright in bed in his sleep and shouting out “ 27771432 Aircraftsman Price Sir “ before going back to sleep !
During one summer holiday whilst at Oxford Chris had a temporary job with British Railways (or whatever they were called then) looking after a couple of tiny, usually unmanned, railway halts on the line up to Gloucester. He would catch the train to the first one, make sure it was OK and then catch the next train to the next Halt to check that. At one such station he was approached by an ancient railway employee and fell into conversation. This old chap then counselled Chris that working on the railways was no real career for a bright young chap like him! Chris did not have the heart to tell him that it was only a holiday job and that he was reading English at Oxford University.
After university Chris got his one and only job at Merchants and I was off to Art College in Leicester and our paths did not really cross. I do recall what a good brother he was to me when during my first term at college I had run out of money so I sent a pleading letter to him. Within a couple of days a small package was delivered containing a photo frame with a 10 bob note in it! To the uninitiated 10 bob was 10 shillings which is 50p in today’s money but had the equivalent of about £15 in today’s money.
In the early 70’s when our children were quite young we used to have family holidays, together with our parents, in Criccieth and this is perhaps the period when he and I were closest. We would on a regular basis delegate our child minding responsibilities to our wives and head off into Snowdonia for a day’s walking. We would chat together on many erudite subjects and in particular I remember earnest discussions on whether we were walking in heavy mist or light rain at the time.
These holidays gave Chris the opportunity to continue his love of the Ffestiniog Railway which he had used to work as a volunteer, I think whilst he was at university. I recall going on the train over a piece of track just over the Cob which Chris proudly proclaimed he had helped to lay although I suspect it had been re-laid several times since then.
Time in Criccieth gave rise to a couple of family sayings which have stuck with me over the years. Once when the whole family were walking miles from habitation up a rough track we came across a local man and my mother , a keen birdwatcher , asked him whether there where any buzzards in the area. The chap gave her a strange look and said “no, only as far as the village”. It took a moment or two to realise he thought she had said “were there any buses up here!
Another time Chris and I were in a climbing equipment shop in Portmadoc to get some dressing for our leather walking boots which were becoming much the worse for wear. Chris suggested possibly Dubbin might be the answer whereupon the shopkeeper exclaimed in his broad Welsh accent ...”No... Dubbins rubbish”
In later years we did not see very much of each other especially with Chris here in Crosby and me living in Norfolk. We did email each other on a regular basis always as Big Bro and Little Bro.
Despite being different characters Chris and I did share many things in common.
Firstly a love of our families and Chris was so proud of his children and especially his grandchildren.
Another thing that Chris and I had in common was that we both married wonderful caring wives and I would like to wish Angie all the best as she continues her journey through life until she is reunited with Chris in heaven.
Chris and I also shared a great faith in God, although I came to mine much later in life than him. I believe that there is an afterlife and that Chris is already enjoying his. Probably at this moment listening to Classic FM after having read the Daily Telegraph this morning.
God bless you Big Bro.
On behalf of my Mum Angie, Sisters Mandy and Sarah and our family I would like to thank you all for being here today to celebrate the life of our Dad. It is a testament to who he was that there are so many of you here.
Some of you here today will know our Dad as the Church Warden of St. Faith’s and are probably picturing him now, sitting in his usual spot at the back of the pews counting the congregation and helping latecomers to their seats.
Some of you here today will remember him from his time as a teacher at Merchant Taylors School whether as a colleague or having been taught by him. He somehow managed to make Shakespeare seem interesting; never had to dish out lines or detention and was one of the most popular teachers with staff and pupils alike. He won’t mind me telling you his nickname was Noddy – not because he wore a blue hat with a bell and stripy pyjamas but because he was well known for standing in class nodding – now whether that was because he agreed with what you were saying or whether he was too polite to say what he was really thinking only those who were taught by him will know. I have 3 of my closest friends here today who were taught by him and they will all have a different take on what he was nodding at them for!
Some of you here today will simply have known our Dad as your friend, sharing his niche interests of steam trains, mountain climbing, music or just because you enjoyed his company.
And the rest of us are here because he was a loving husband, brother, cousin, uncle or just our Dad or Grandpa. That I think was what meant most to him – being surrounded by his family and loved ones. He opened up his home to anyone, sharing a drink and some food and then letting us know in his own subtle way that it was time for us to leave! In his later years this became less subtle!
Dad met Mum in Gloucestershire where she visited relatives on a farm near to where Dad lived. They courted and eventually Dad proposed to Mum under a red May tree on the banks of a river in Oxford where he was studying at the time. I would think this proposal would have put a lot of us to shame!
They moved to Liverpool where they made their home for the rest of his life and where he and Mum started their family. Mandy, Sarah and eventually myself made up the fivesome and we had such a happy childhood. This is where I should introduce you to Dad’s invisible friend, but I can’t of course because he is invisible. His name is Albert Furpongle and he lived in Dad’s jacket pocket. He would bring him out whenever we needed cheering up and it always worked.
Dad would take us on wonderful family holidays to Pantymwyn and Criccieth in Wales where we made memories to last a lifetime. Our journeys by car were accompanied by his love of classical music; what a “joy” that was. However he always thought of us in the back and now and then would throw in some up to date pop music just for us kids – whether that be James Galway or Roger Whitaker you’d find us all rocking along in the back seat.
The evening news was a sacred time for Dad; kids TV had finished and he would take up his favourite spot by the fire, lying on the floor with his head at an unfeasibly awkward angle on his chair. He must have been comfortable though as he nearly always fell asleep.
Dad’s DIY skills were legendary and he’ll be glad to know he passed that particular skill to me. Let’s just say he gave it a go and leave it there. Alan, his son-in-law and handy family electrician would later come along to fix some of Dad’s handywork (and probably save the house from some of Dad’s Christmas tree lights wiring)!
Dad had an amazing gift of getting everyone to do things for him without realising they’d been asked, a skill I expect he honed as a teacher. His other son-in-law Mike has “volunteered” his DIY skills throughout Mum & Dads home and also at their caravan in Wales.
Everyone who met Dad always said how welcoming he was and over the years he welcomed many visitors from New Zealand who were here to visit my wife Lis and they have all said the same thing – how kind he was – a gentle and generous man.
I know how much Al, Mike and Lis meant to my Dad and that means a lot to myself, Mand and Sa. I am pretty sure the feeling was mutual.
When it was time for us to make our own families, nothing gave Dad more joy than the arrival of his 6 grandchildren – Becky, Helena, Emma, Matt, James and Dan. They all had a unique bond with their Grandpa and I know how much all of them will miss him and treasure the precious time and memories they made with him and their Grandma.
One thing very consistent throughout Dad’s life was his sense of humour. He always had us laughing or groaning at his Dad jokes and it carried on until the end. In the final few days of his life he wanted an anointment and a good family friend Denise kindly agreed to come to the hospital to perform this for him. After the service she was telling Dad who was then struggling to speak how lucky he was to have a beautiful wife and 3 wonderful kids. Dad turned to me, managed a cheeky grin and held up 2 fingers and whispered…well at least 2 anyway!!
He was the perfect patient in hospital and struck a strong bond with his fellow patients and wonderful nursing staff. One of the patients Lenny said that he knew Dad was a teacher because when he was ready for sleep he’d have the nurses turning off all the lights, his fan and of course his radio. He said that when Dad said goodnight to him, he’d just salute him. He said how great it was to have Dad there for company and I know that Mum and Dad would like to acknowledge the wonderful care he was afforded from all the staff at Fazakerly hospital.
Dad was a simple man, quite unique in his ways. If he had his radio playing Classic FM or the Liverpool commentary, a glass of sherry, a bowl of nuts and a computer to do his church magazine or railway stuff he was a very content man. I think he would be quite pleased that the year he died would be the year Liverpool went on to win the league (fingers crossed)…I had to get that in.
Another memory of Dad is having a giant piece of paper spread out on the dining room table and bit by bit, piece by piece he would bring together the most complex school timetable you’ve ever seen. The incredible detail, complexity and order was mind boggling – quite ironic when you see the state of his very unordered desk downstairs in the basement. Hopefully the funeral will be to his liking; ordered and timed to perfection just like his timetable.
I mentioned in the beginning that Dad sat in the back pews quietly organising everything and I think that was a perfect metaphor for his life.
If you look through the thousands of photos,
slides and cine film he made, he’s in very few of the shots. The people and
things that were important to him were. He was always behind
the camera, quietly organising and recording our memories for
us. This is how
we will remember you Dad and why we’ll always love and miss
Fr Dennis Smith
Chris price was the age thirty, I was a callow youth of seventeen, the year was 1967, the month, either March or April, and we were both attending the Annual General Meeting of St Faith`s, held in the parish hall. I can't now remember whether it was a Sunday morning after the main service, or early on a midweek evening but the moment had come for the election of a new Churchwarden. At the prospect of a much older greatly loved, but totally unsuitable candidate offering himself for the office of Churchwarden, Chris was nudged by a fellow parishioner seated next to him and told that he must in the interest of the parish sanity, put himself forward or else Archie would be elected. And so, albeit reluctantly, Chris generously responded, and thus began a tenure of office, which Chris held for some 35 years.
From that day onwards Chris served this church, which he loved and to which he was totally devoted, with exemplary and outstanding commitment. No one could ever have shown or demonstrated more love, enthusiasm and energy to a church or institution as Chris has done over a lifetime of involvement at the centre of the worship and witness of this community of faith.
The duties and responsibilities of a Churchwarden are numerous and there are times and occasions when the office can be a burden. It is to his great credit that throughout his long period in exercising the role of Churchwarden, Chris was able to give rock-solid stability and support to four very different incumbents of St Faith`s, three of whom are here today, who all benefited from his innate intelligence, insight, sagacity and sensitivity.
As many here today know Chris's significant contribution to this church was the creation of the parish magazine, which he named “Newslink” and then subsequently is designing and maintenance of the St Faith`s website. Not just hundreds, but thousands have availed themselves of these two vehicles of information and entertainment and it is hard, if not impossible, to estimate the value and impact these have had.
Having studied English as an undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in the days when JRR Tolkien was Professor of English Language and Literature, Chris`s command, and use of English was superb. His reading of biblical passages in our services here were often a joy to listen to, and particularly at the great festivals of the church`s liturgical year, the manner of his intercessions and contents thereof were invariably a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement. His exemplary enthusiasm and love for this hallowed place, never waned. His suggestion for, and the administration of, the various Talent Schemes brought in much needed revenue for the church funds over the years and not to be forgotten, of course, was the definitive writing and publication of his history of St Faith`s, which he produced to mark the church's 75th anniversary in 1975. A consummate photographer, often popping up at various places during and after services to take pictures which would later appear in “Newslink” or on the website, he did everything with a wonderfully endearing mischievous charm and cheerfulness which went alongside his natural warmth and genial, vibrant and bubbly personality.
On a Tuesday evening in February 1979, I received a phone call from Chris, one of many over the years. Always one for having his ear to the ground and enjoying knowing what was going on, he rang to tell me the good news that I had been given the Divinity post at Merchant Taylors` for which I had been interviewed that same day. He also told me that I would be joining his department, as I would be teaching a few periods of junior English. For the next 20 years it was a great joy to be part of a department that was so brilliantly led by such a talented teacher as Chris. Hugely respected, greatly admired and massively popular at Merchant Taylors`, Chris led a very happy and successful department from 1972, until his retirement in. 2002.
During his 40 years on the staff, besides inspiring countless numbers of boys and their love and liking for literature, his presidency of the Model Railway Society, with its annual exhibition was second only to his creation of the Image Press, which secured an invaluable place in the life of the school. Under his mentorship and guidance large numbers of boys were introduced to and honed in the arts and skills of printing, and were afforded opportunities for future advancement. Over many years as a Middle School Form Master of Lower or Upper 5P, Chris was a model practitioner of pastoral care and support to his charges. Many boys found him to have a ready, listening ear, and compassionate heart, and whether it was problems with the school, or domestic troubles at home, in their Form Master they found someone in whom they could have the utmost confidence and trust.
Chris has always enjoyed a great love of walking and exploring. When a sixth form pupil at Merchants`, I well remember the day trips as a member of the Voluntary Service Unit, of which “Mr Price” was a leader, going up Snowdon, or Helvellyn and being surprised, if not amazed, at the speed and agility with which Chris, like a mountain goat, would get to the top, leaving us younger and lesser fit mortals behind. On the retirement of John Kent Chris was appointed Senior Master, a position and status he had earned and well deserved. In this role, he continued with the demanding and challenging task of creating and implementing the school timetable for the coming academic year, and of overseeing and arranging the daily cover periods for room changes and absent staff. All these were tasks to which he applied his customary unflappability, diligence and industry.
Chris, with Angie and the family, enjoyed many trips “Island Hopping” in and around the Scottish coastline, but it was, of course, Wales that played so great apart in his caravan holidays at Criccieth and his enjoyment of the Ffestiniog Railway. I shall always remember the wonderful Welsh accent Chris employed, when at an end of term school Carol Service one December, many moons ago, I asked him to read, Dylan Thomas` “A Child`s Christmas in Wales”, which he finished with the words “Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said, we did that.
Chris has left a vacuum a void, which can never be filled. He was a luminary, for which this church will always be grateful. The Swedish economist and diplomat Dag Hammarskjold , who served as the second Secretary General of the United Nations, was killed in an aeroplane crash in Zambia at the age of 56 in 1961. Over this many years, editing and writing articles for “Newslink”, Chris often quoted some words of Hammarskjold`s which meant a lot to him, and of which he was fond:
“To the past: thanks; To the future. Yes”.
It is with great thanksgiving, much love and fond affection that this day, we commend and entrust our dear friend and brother in Christ, Chris, to the “Yes” of God's future, in the knowledge and hope of the resurrection to Eternal life, promised us in the Risen, Ascended and Exalted Christ, and of which we are reminded in the words of the Victorian poet and playwright, Robert Browning, who in his poem, Rabbi ben Ezra wrote;
Grow old, along with me!
The best is yet to be
The last of life, for which the first was made;
Our times are in His hand
Who saith, "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God:
See all, nor be afraid!”
Chris dear friend to us all. Good night, and God bless.
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Price; An Appreciation page