Tuesday, 23 August 2011

My husband George

(I wrote this for the vicar to read out at my husband's funeral on 28th July 2011)

George was born Michael Straker, son of Barbara Straker, twin brother of Peter Straker, on the 23rd of December 1949 at 05.40 hrs in the morning, Liverpool.

Single mothers were not treated well in the Forties and although they had a sister, they were immediately distributed to the care of the Lancashire and Cheshire Child Adoption Council.

In January of 1950 the twins were chosen for adoption and collected by their new parents at 11.30 am on the 8th February.

The new parents were called George and Mary. Michael being the elder by 25 minutes had his name changed on the 5th January to George as you all know him today, and no, Pete's name wasn't changed to Mary!

After Miss Widowson’s pre-preparatory school, Mostyn House Preparatory School for Boys and St. Edwards Public School, Oxford, it became clear that
George was more a “hands on” kind of a guy.
To this end an engineering apprenticeship with Saunders Roe on the Isle of Wight in the Hovercraft Division was embarked upon in 1966.

After this time George was introduced to a man called Dudley Gahagan, through his then girlfriend's father, who operated a car sales and repair workshop in Aldershot called Rees Bros.

George joined Rees Brothers in Elms Road, Aldershot as a vehicle technician and in 1973 a 16 year old Martin Savill also joined the company.
Martin recalls that it was obvious from the start that George had a fascination for all things mechanical and how they worked.

It was at Rees Bros that George had the opportunity to drive many old and exciting cars, something he loved doing. Martin remembers him making a rare TV appearance on the “Magpie” programme, driving Mick Robertson up the test hill at Brooklands in a Bugatti, sadly before the days of video recorders.

Martin left Rees Bros in 1979 and George left a year later to form the Aldershot Motor Company where Martin went to work with him there.
George expanded the business to include the Aldershot Car Valeting centre, cleaning cars for the motor trade, mainly for Charters. George employed numerous young people during that time and he was always willing to give somebody a chance and offer them encouragement.

One of his favourite sayings was “If you all listened to me, you’d be a lot better off” and he was probably right.

During his time at Rees Bros., George met Jane through close friends and their romance blossomed. They got engaged in June 1977 and married 6 months later in January 1978. A year or 2 later they found they were expecting their 1st child but Jane unfortunately miscarried at 5-6 months. As recuperation, they went to Pasadena, California to visit George’s family on his mother’s side and spent a month travelling from L.A. to San Francisco and through Reno to San Diego. After visiting Las Vegas and New York they returned home.
Amy was conceived, and then born on 26 September 1981.
A happy and entertaining child, Amy enjoyed ballet, swimming, riding and ice-skating and began her education at St. Christopher’s school in Farnham.
Amy very much enjoyed outings with her father and when she moved onto St. Catherine’s School in Bramley, George enjoyed taking different cars to their open days, dressing in his straw hat, shorts, socks and sandals – knowing full well that his footwear irritated Amy.

George was a keen and enthusiastic member of Aldershot Round Table and was at various times Chairman, Treasurer and President. George also completed two parachute jumps to raise money for charity with other Round Tablers. As you can imagine George was also at the forefront when Aldershot Round Table took part in the National Banger Racing event several years in a row. The cars were prepared in the garden at home!

It was in 1982 that George bought the Dodge Superbee and that was the start of many motoring adventures from drag racing to circuit racing and was probably his favourite car of all the many cars he had owned.

In 1986 when Paul Burch of Charters wanted to buy Aldershot Motor Company’s premises to use as a bodyshop he offered George a job at Charters and so began a new episode. After a short while George settled into a new role as Export Sales Manager, selling tax-free Peugeots to the armed forces based mainly in Germany.
In the meantime, George and Jane had parted and gone their own ways.

Lorraine started working at Charters in 1987 and soon after, their relationship began…. secretly at first (or so they thought) causing much amusement amongst the other members of staff.

In the summer of 1988 George and Lorraine moved to Monks Well, Farnham next door to George’s mother and father.
Sadly, George’s mother died from Alzheimer’s disease in 1992 but his father lived on for another eight years….still brewing his own beer and baking his own bread.

In 1993 George took part in one of the greatest adventures of his life – The London to Sydney Rally. As co-driver to Freddie Preston, the dynamic duo and 105 other classic car enthusiasts (or nutters) took a month to drive from London to Sydney. They were crazy enough to do a similar event in 1995 – the London to Mexico Rally.

Lorraine left Charters in 1993 and 1994 saw the birth of young George and from then on there was never a dull moment in the Hampson household. Always up to mischief (and still is) he managed to break both his arms in separate incidents in his early years.

George and Lorraine married in 1996 and then Lucy was born in 1997 completing the Hampson family.

Young George and Lucy both attended the local and excellent Barfield school and enjoyed many happy years there.

In the meantime, Amy had qualified as a beauty therapist and with George’s help opened a beauty salon, firstly in Guildford and later in Fleet. George was always proud of what Amy had achieved and enjoyed being involved in all aspects – they had a healthy father and daughter relationship.

A drop in the market of selling tax-free cars meant that George was made redundant from Charters in 2005. Try as he might George never found suitable employment again although he did purchase and renovate a house to keep himself occupied and out from under Lorraine’s feet!

George was very active in the school PSA and later became a parent governor at the school. He played an important part in discovering the “misdemeanors” of the previous “rogue” headmaster.

Always keen to put something back into the community, George became a Magistrate at Guildford Court at the beginning of 2006, a role he enjoyed immensely.

Young George and Lucy finished their junior school education at Barfield school and moved onto Salesian College and Farnborough Hill respectively which pleased their father as these are excellent schools.

As a family, everyone has got on very well together over the years and Christmas became quite an event at the family’s houses - George enjoyed these gatherings and he always made it his job to cook the Christmas dinner.

Quite recently, Amy had decided she would like a change of direction and a less stressful lifestyle so gave up running her beauty salon business, of which George was secretary, and became the manager of Estee Lauder in Guildford Debenhams which she is currently enjoying.

George’s health had never been particularly good having suffered two collapsed lungs in the 1980s then problems with his back and several operations to put this right. In 2009 George was diagnosed with lung cancer and also a form of latent TB which had been lurking undiscovered for a long time.

An operation was followed by some months of grueling chemotherapy but George battled through and was given the “all-clear” after subsequent follow-up appointments and scans. During one of these scans it was found that George had blocked arteries to his legs which prompted another major operation and again, George came through with flying colours.

Throughout most of his health problems George still enjoyed a pint at the Running Stream in Weybourne with some of his oldest friends including Tom, Joe and Gus.

However, several months ago, George mentioned that he was getting headaches which was unusual for him and he had unexplained feelings of nausea. In June he casually mentioned this to a doctor during a routine follow-up appointment and the doctor arranged a CT scan but before this was done he suddenly became quite poorly on the afternoon of 20th June whilst out in the car and Lorraine took George to Frimley Park Hospital.
George never returned home as, after tests, he was eventually diagnosed as having malignant meningitis which was caused by his lung cancer returning in a more aggressive form. This is sadly untreatable and incurable.

After 2 and a half weeks in Frimley Park and having received many many visitors, George was transferred to Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice who made every effort to make sure he was comfortable. The visitors didn’t stop and a quick glance at the visitor’s signing in and out book at reception proved that he was the most popular patient at the hospice.

After a week at the hospice and after quite a rapid decline, George lost his fight for life....a devastatingly upsetting and very very sad day for all.


This was taken on our last family holiday, a year ago.

4 comments:

Vivianne said...

Dearest Lori, I am so sorry; I also didn't realize your children were still so young. Biggest hugs and warmest wishes for you all xxxx

CosmicFaery said...

Dear Lori, thank you for sharing this lovely tribute with us. My thoughts are with you and your family xxxxxxxx

Inner Whispers said...

Dear Lori, what a full and exciting life! How sad, though, not to see all your children grown to adults. I am sure he will be sorely missed. Big hugs to you all, Chloƫ

Lori Green said...

Thank you for your kind thoughts and words.....there is a lot of emptiness here....