Thursday, 30 January 2014

30th January 2014 - Arnold Barker 10th April 1923 - 15th January 2014

Arnold Barker:
10th April 1923 – 15th January 2014

I would first like to thank everyone who has come here this afternoon to support friends and family, and to celebrate the life of Arnold, for it is a time of celebration more than a time of mourning, a celebration of a full and active life, of 90 years of a very caring, active and independent man.

Independent he certainly was. From the time he was 16 and bowled uninvited into the Blackburn Times and asked for an interview, got it and a 7 year apprenticeship, but had to persuade his father to come in and sign the papers to allow him to start his career in printing and newspapers. From joining the Home Guard in 1939, as he was too young for the regular army, but then serving with the 1st Army from 1942 in Africa and Italy – he never spoke of his war service, but he has five medals to give testimony of his service.  Independent right up to the time last year, when he was released from hospital after breaking a hip and advised me that he would not be able to sit at his computer desk.  I had better find him a lap top so he could use it from his chair. Something I did, and found that by next morning he already had the laptop case and cushion tray ordered on line and delivered from Amazon.

He loved driving. It is only afterwards that I have discovered that he drove lorries all over the country, including while being stationed in Carmarthen, as well as Africa and Italy in the war. Due to his motor cycle injury in the war, we always thought that he was a motor bike courier. He was a lorry driver. It seems he was only on a motor cycle pillion with a friend trying to catch up with the convoy in 1945 when it crashed into one of the lorries. That caused the injury that gave him a disability, and a plate of solid silver in his leg which would reduce his mobility for the rest of his life – though I never heard him complain (except occasionally when it was damp!)
He loved driving till the end – his car was his pride, even if only used more recently to get the papers and a trip to ASDA. He was looking forward to picking up his brand new Kia in February and had the brochures by his chair which he would delight to show you…

He was always active in the community until his later years. He loved his cricket and was a qualified Cricket Umpire presiding at many prestigious matches. An active member of the Royal British Legion in his early days, he gravitated to being treasurer and secretary in many roles and organisations. An active member of the Chapel (the printing union), he never claimed to be politically active, but does reminisce that he felt a little shame when he joined the Conservative Club in Rochdale, but the drinks were cheaper there !!! He always had a Northern Pragmatism.

His membership of the Buffs, the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes since 1963 was his true and continuing delight, and I am very grateful to Mr Roy Davies the Provincial Chaplain and all Arnold's colleagues from the Buffs in agreeing to conduct this celebration and committal in a manner that Arnold would  have appreciated.

He was also an active Freemason, being a member of several orders, though after his stroke he found large groups more difficult and has restricted himself to the Buffs for the last 10 years. Once again I thank the brethren who have come here to support and remember him.

He was also a very caring man, and suffered many losses in his time. His first wife, Barbara was diagnosed with cancer and he cared for her through the last three years of her life. He later married Betty, and sadly within five years she had also contracted a cancer and needed care until her death.

It was a couple of years later that Arnold came into our lives. His diaries tell me “Some friends then introduced me to a real dizzy blonde, who turned out to be exceptional”

In 1974, He married Eileen, Sue’s mother, and became part of our family. Sadly Eileen is not well enough to be here this afternoon, but their early years were ones of activity, and a shared joy of music, travel and the rich Northern countryside of Arnold’s birth. As Eileen became more frail, he devoted years to being her carer, a task he did without complaint. They celebrated 40 years marriage this year. Moving into more sheltered accommodation as the years went by he continued to care for Eileen as in time he required more care himself. We will always be indebted to his carers from Plas y Mor – and I thank you for coming here this afternoon.

He took delight in his Grandaughters, and in his great grandchildren. He gave a big smile when he learned that he was about to be a great grandfather again, though in hospital, and very poorly.

On the night before his stroke, while sitting with his laptop he wrote in his diary 

“Was a bit off today – didn’t eat all my tea”.

A full life, a dry humour, a generous spirit, a life of independence, commitment and caring.

Arnold Barker – I am glad that you were part of our lives.

Arnold was cremated at Llanelli Crematorium on 30th April 2014. 
Eulogy by Iain Sewell, son in law.

Arnold & Eileen

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