Eulogy for my Dad – Richard Ambury 1939-2019

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My Dad sadly died last month at the age of 79. Last Monday we cremated him in Ipswich. I wrote this eulogy and read it out at the service:

“Hello everyone, thanks for coming today. Particular thanks to my sister Sarah who is the best sister ever.

My name is Sue Black, I’m Richard’s eldest daughter.

Until I was 13 my dad was a great dad. It’s this time, when I was a child, that I choose to focus on today.

Many of my first memories are of hanging out with my dad. After my brother and sister Sarah and Stephen were born when I was nearly five years old I spent a lot of time hanging out with my dad. When we lived in Chandler’s Ford he would do odd jobs for people at the weekend, painting and gardening. I remember going along with him to help out, though as I was only about 4 or 5 years old I’m not quite sure how much help I actually gave him 😉

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Dad used to take me to work with him, introducing me to staff and patients at the places he worked: Leigh House in Chandler’s Ford, Hill End Hospital in St Albans and Runwell Hospital in Essex. I remember a particular year when he was in charge of Runwell Hospital, I must’ve been about nine or ten years old. We spent Christmas morning together visiting wards around the hospital to thank all of the staff that were working that day, saying Merry Christmas to all the patients. I remember coming home with so many boxes of chocolates given to us by staff and students as we went round that we could hardly carry them all. It was obvious from our visits that he was well liked and respected by everyone we met. Working hard, personal interest in, and care for others at work, I thank my dad for these leadership experiences that have played a strong role in my life.

Dad loved cars. One of my first happy memories is of him sitting me on his lap so that I could “drive” the car whilst we were on the way to one of his weekend gardening jobs. That was before the day of seatbelts and so probably not so safe by today’s standards, but a lot of fun ☺

Later on in my childhood I used to fix the car with my dad, he taught me how to bleed the brakes, change a wheel, how the engine worked etc. Another time we went to test drive a car he was thinking of buying. He drove us to a disused area and then accelerated till we went over 100 miles an hour! It was so exciting! I’m thankful for this knowledge and I attribute my lifelong love of cars and interest in engineering to my dad.

Other memories I have are of his and my mum’s great love of music. I remember dancing to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Tornadoes and many others, aged about 4, stacking up the 45s on the record player and the excitement of hearing that characteristic clack as the next record dropped, then waiting in anticipation of the next song. Music has been a constant source of happiness in my life, my son Sam is a keen guitarist. I thank my dad for my lifelong love of music.

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When he was younger my dad loved sport and was good at it too. He was captain of the football team at Hill End, and captain of the cricket team at Runwell. I have many memories of playing badminton with him, he sometimes took me to the staff badminton practice at Runwell hospital after work. He often won inter-hospital competitions with his doubles partner Phillip. I’ve loved badminton and sports all my life, even though as you can see, I’ve probably not done enough 😉 My son Olly loves playing badminton, has inherited my dad’s speedy raquet skills and plays badminton regularly, this reminds me of my dad and how he loved it too. Dad also loved boxing and instilled a love for it in me, my daughter Leah now trains at the boxing gym near where we live and is a talented young athlete.

My whole life I’ve had a love of comedy, it has helped to keep me sane through the many difficult times I’ve had. Both my parents had a good sense of humour. Particular memories I have of my dad are of mucking about with him and my brother and sister after seeing some new comedy sketch on TV. Dad had loved the Goons when he was young, and used to let me stay up to watch Monty Python with him back in the 1970s. Comedy has enriched my, and my children’s lives, and I thank my dad for this today.

When I was younger my dad used to encourage me to use my brain, he would give me riddles to solve, I particularly remember a book of mazes he brought home for me, and how he enjoyed the fact that I was really good at them. My daughter loves puzzles and is great at solving problems. Dad also encouraged my love of maths from a young age. As I got older he would tell me about real life problems which he needed to solve at work and we discussed how to go about sorting them out. All of this has stood me in good stead in my career in computer science and academic management.

Working hard to achieve goals, leadership, love of cars, sport, music, comedy, solving riddles and puzzles. I have a lot to thank my Dad for. As you can see even though he was only around as a positive influence until I was 13 he made a deep impression on me which lives now through my life and career and those of my children and I’m sure will be felt through my grandchildren’s lives and other generations to come.

I give thanks today for my dad’s life and influence on me and my family.

May he rest in peace.”

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8 comments

  1. My condolences. Lovely eulogy. My dad taught me a broad range of things bricklaying, be who you are, don’t be afraid to be stronger and different. It’s great to have moments of where did I know that from and realise the dad influence is with you always.

  2. Sue, Im sorry for your loss. Your dads memory is firmly embedded in your heart. I can hear this in your writing.
    I lost my dad when I was 27 but he was a great influence on me, his love of reading and his great sense of honour and doing the right thing has followed me too through my life.

  3. Sue, I work with Richard for 9 years at Mental Aftercare Association , developping , often for the first time, a decent quality of life for men and women languishing in the old long stay mental hospitals. He had a passion for the work and a practical attitude towards making new life possible. He was a grat colleague and a real friend. Richard, rest in peace

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