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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From Bletchley to Brexit – an utter disgrace

From 2008-2011 I ran the successful campaign to save Bletchley Park. As part of that campaign I met and got to know several of the codebreakers including Captain Jerry Roberts and Mavis Batey who was only 18 when she made major codebreaking breakthroughs. The work that was done by 10 thousand people at BP, 8000 of them young women shortened WW2 by 2 years saving 22 million lives. 10000 people working around the clock for years making sure that we can enjoy the freedom we have had all of our lives.

Bletchley Park to me epitomises what is best about Britain and the British. People from all different backgrounds coming together around a common cause, working for years, in secret, with no real personal reward or recognition for what they have done. Incredible people in incredible times. 

To me Brexit is the opposite of this. Brexit epitomises the worst of Britain and the British. People from privileged backgrounds seeking to manipulate others, to pit people against each other for their own personal gain. Selfish people creating a selfish atmosphere in selfish times.

At a time when other countries, like China for example are building infrastructure across the world with the Belt and Road programme, buying up land, building roads across Africa and Asia, lending large amounts of money to countries that possibly won’t be able to pay it back, we in the UK are showing the world quite clearly that we are unfit to be incredible pioneers as we once were, working en masse, working in collaboration with other countries, building the alliances that we have enjoyed up until now.

We are now operating in a global marketplace. There has never been so much opportunity in the world for us to create products and services that we can sell around the world. Technology is rapidly changing the way we connect with each other, the way we trade, the way we live our lives. It is creating social change through connecting us together with others that care about making change happen. #blacklivesmatter #metoo it’s incredible that through one word, one hashtag we can create global movements that are changing the world for the better, empowering people who previously had no voice.

Technology brings amazing opportunities for jobs, education, connections with people around the world to solve global challenges, but in the UK we  just look backwards and complain about how it’s taking away jobs.

In less than 100 years we’ve gone from seeing the best of British to the worst of British. I’m utterly ashamed of what’s happening here now with Brexit, to me it feels like the UK at a pivotal time in history with all the amazing opportunities that are out there, is committing suicide in front of the world. At a time when we should be joining together and collaborating with other countries to make the world a better place to live in for us all, we are throwing away opportunity under the lie of making Britain great again. What an utter disgrace.

This is why I do what I do, empowering #womenintech is so important

Please see below email just received today, I have anonymised it and its not related to these lovely ladies in the photo.  I get lots of email/messages like this all the time. We must provide more opportunities for #womenintech.

 

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Dear Sue

Firstly, I know you are incredibly busy so I definitely do not want to take up too much of your time. I’ll try and be as succinct as possible!

I was looking to see if you could advise me on retraining as a software developer and if there are any schemes, grants, bursaries available. I am a single parent of 3 and left an abusive relationship (my children’s father) just over a year ago. Whilst I have a degree in xxxxxx, I work as a xxxxxxxxxxx in the voluntary sector- which is neither well paid or guaranteed. I am currently renting and with maintenance money not being provided, huge childcare costs and soaring rent rates, myself and my children are incredibly vulnerable. I recognise that it is up to me to do something about this and I am nothing but determined.

A friend suggested coding, the past two weeks I have spent my evening having a go at small intro courses to java and python. to my surprise I was able to complete the tasks and enjoyed them! I understand these were just introductions- and by no means do I think this is coding! Nevertheless I would really like to retrain in software development. I have no savings, and realistically can’t take time out- unless I get some funding- in order to retrain.

There is a 16 week full time coding course running in xxxxxxxxx (where I Live which I have been recommend) It begins in February 2019 and I would really like to join it. I applied for a career development loan but my credit rating was not good enough to qualify.

I wondered if you could advice of any funding that may be open to me? Or just general advice of courses or options that you know of?

I also just wanted to say that you are an amazing woman, who is so inspiring to so many people. It’s a joy to listen to you on Late night Women’s hour and other podcasts.

Many Thanks and warmest wishes

XXXXXXX

 

Sapper Holland – Lest we forget #RemembranceSunday2018

Thinking of my great grandfather Frederick Arthur Holland from #Weymouth who died during #WW1 #RemembranceDay2018 when my wonderful Nannie Elsie Leah Reynolds was just 4 years old 😭❤️😭

My great grandfather Sapper Holland died aged 32, the same age as my sons are now, my grandmother Elsie was 4, almost the same age as my grandson Felix is now. It just doesn’t bear thinking about😱

My grandmother grew up in very reduced circumstances with her mother working 3 jobs just to provide enough food to eat.

And despite being a fun loving and funny person always carried sadness in her heart from her father being taken away from her at such a young age 😭❤️😭 #WW1 #RemembranceSunday2018

The two Sue Blacks!!

I was delighted to finally meet the “other Sue Black” a few months ago at Dundee University ❤️ we’ve known each other for years online but never met in person until Sue invited me up to Dundee as a digital expert.

We are often mistaken for each other, I’m a computer scientist and Sue is a forensic scientist, and congratulated for each other’s work 🤣

It was so wonderful to meet, I’m really looking forward to next time.

Why is it harder for women to be leaders? I spoke to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4 Late Night Woman’s Hour #leadership #culture #diversity

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Turbo charge your career #womenintech mastermind

Turbo charge your career!

I’m always being asked for advice on how to approach particular situations at work/university/college particularly by women and particularly in the tech sector. I want to help as many people as possible so I thought “Why not set up an online group where I can help more people get to where they want to go more quickly?”

So that’s what I’m going to do!

#comingsoon I’m starting a #womenintech Mastermind featuring an online discussion group, webinars, advice sessions, one to one mentoring and a lot more. Add your email here if you are interested:

tinyurl.com/DrBMaster

Talk to you soon!

#tech #mentoring #careergoals #careeradvice #gettingpromoted #skillsshortage #technology

Honorary Doctorate from Royal College of Art presented by Jony Ive

I had a wonderful time today receiving an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Art ❤️🙏❤️

Massive congratulations to all students graduating today at TheAlbertHall and my fellow honorands Siobhán Davies and Peter Gabriel

#RCAconvocation #lifegoals @siobhandavies #petergabriel

Captain Jerry Roberts – Bletchley Park codebreaker

Here I am 9 years ago with the wonderful Captain Jerry Roberts, Bletchley Park codebreaker, at my birthday party. What an amazing man ❤️

One of the hardest things about running the campaign to save Bletchley Park is making friends with incredible people and then losing them 😭

Check out Jerry’s book Lorenz

#bletchleypark #codebreakers #testery #savingbletchley

Can I learn to DJ? Is it easy? The Idris Elba and Childish Gambino debacle

I’ve been thinking for about hmm well 40 years now, that I’d really like to learn to DJ. Doing Desert Island Discs reminded me. Is it easy? How would I get started?

Here’s a pic I took of Idris Elba DJing last night. He played just the “This is America” refrain of Childish Gambino’s amazing track, mixed in with another track and I was just so desperate to go up there and make him play the whole track.

I forgave him when he played “Smells like teen spirit” by Nirvana, as his last track, an obvious homage to my Desert Island Discs 🤣🤣🤣