Stan Charlwood

Stan Charlwood passed away as a result of a stroke, just three days after his 96th birthday. Stan was Lower Roedale’s longest standing tenant, and had been gardening at the site since he was 14. Stan was, for many years, the chair of RAGS – Roedale Allotments and Gardens Society, and a regular winner of shows and competitions.

This photo was taken about 9-10 years ago.

We would like to pass on our very grateful thanks to Stan’s son who was kind enough to let us have a copy of the eulogy he read at the funeral – which we have transcribed below:

Eulogy for Stan Charlwood

“Dad would be thrilled to know that so many people have come here today to remember him, people from different parts of his life, family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, and on behalf of the family I would like to thank you all for being here to share this occasion, a sad one, but also uplifting in thanks for a life spanning 96 years.

As family, and also on behalf of everyone, we would like to extend our sympathy to Marjorie, his sister.  They enjoyed a special bond, with mutual interests, and they looked after each other right to the end by ringing each other twice a day and trying to outdo each other in the Argus word search.

Dad was born on 23 July 1915 in Rose Hill Terrace before moving to Havelock Road.  One of his earliest recollections was meeting his uncle returning on leave from the trenches of the First World War.

Two of his life-long interests, stamp collecting and gardening, had their roots in his early teens. He joined the Red Cross, and when war came he thought it likely that he would be enlisted with the medical corps, but instead found himself in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

He became expert in munitions and it was his job to defuse dropped German ordnance and unexploded munitions such as incendiary bullets.

At weekends, he would be visited regularly by Home Guard members and he would teach them how to defuse enemy explosives, mines and ordnance, the building of improvised explosives from household items, and how to make and deal with booby traps.

In later years he found out that the people he had been training were in fact British Resistance commandos, men who had been singled out to be guerillas in the event of a successful German invasion.  How important a job was that!

After the war, the opportunity came for Dad to apply for a job at the newly formed Ambulance Station in Elm Grove.  He began by driving ambulances but progressed to the position of Station Master, and completed a long and distinguished career there.  Service was also continued with the Red Cross and Civil Defence.

His spare time was occupied with growing vegetables and daffodils and running 2 allotments, and it wasn’t until he reached the age of 90 that he had to buy a potato. His knowledge of gardening was second to none, and I know there will be people here today who have had Dad’s gardening wisdom passed on to them.

Of course, once he retired, he had more time to increase the level of competition and there were regular trips to London where he and Marjorie tested themselves against the best in the country. They also tested themselves against London commuters because they had to travel up in the rush hour.  Marjorie remembers well the occasion when they had to change trains at Clapham junction. Changing trains there is never easy. let alone when you are juggling with prize marrows, potatoes and onions, and Marjorie had a job keeping up with Dad as he made is way down one set of stairs and up another.  And talking of London, tea and jams from Fortnum and Mason were favourites of Dad’s.

Dad also became well known in Sussex as a show judge and gave talks on gardening.

Dad loved the wild birds and enjoyed his visits to Pulborough Reserve and Arlington Reservoir, and he still kept lists of the species he had seen in his own garden.  Although drinking was not high on the list of his activities, he did enjoy lunches at the Yew Tree in Arlington with Marjorie, where we also celebrated his 90th birthday and his Mum’s 100th birthday.

He also enjoyed the pageantry of events in London such as the State opening of Parliament and the visits by foreign Heads of State such as Nelson Mandela.

He developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of Brighton.

Dad’s family were hugely important to him and he was meticulous in his efforts to be fair to everyone, especially his grandchildren. He was also extremely interested in their progress with whatever they were doing, particularly with their working life. The arrival of great grandchildren late in his life also brought him great pleasure, and how nice it is that we have all the generations represented today.

Remaining independent was so important to Dad. When he was in hospital earlier this year that was placed in some doubt, but his determination was there for all to see, and with the help of his family, neighbours and friends, he was able to return home for his last 12 weeks.

So we remember and give thanks for Dad’s long and fulfilled life, but let me take you back to Sunday 19th June, Father’s Day, and the days after and help give you some reassurance.  When Sarah rang Dad on the Sunday he didn’t answer his phone immediately. When she did make contact, he told her that he had been sitting on his chair in the porch, no doubt enjoying the sun, his plants, and watching the birds.  When I rang Dad in the evening we enjoyed a longer than usual conversation. He was worries that his tomatoes were not setting and so that was going to be something we needed to sort out. I can tell you Dad that they have now set, and the tomatoes are showing. How appropriate and how lucky were we that our last two way conversation with Dad was on Father’s Day.

On 22nd June he prepared his cooked breakfast as usual and had eaten it when he fell ill.

The day after was his 96th birthday, spent in hospital in the stroke ward, but Sarah and I are confident that he was fully aware of the occasion and who had send him the birthday cards we read to him.

His last days were spent as he would have liked, at home, being independent, in surroundings he loved, and then calm and comfortable in hospital.

A thoughtful, knowledgeable, caring, interesting and proud man, a gentleman, generous in word and deed, and Dad, I promise you one thing, nobody here will forget you.”

Rest in Peace Stan Charlwood.

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