At 2 PM on January 1, 2016 my beloved father Robert John Wooding passed away peacefully at the Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay. Both myself, my mum and sister were at his bedside when he took his last breath and slipped away. Dad had been having problems for a few months and it was only just before Christmas when they finally diagnosed pancreatic cancer which was unfortunately far too advanced to be treated.
My dad was born on September 10, 1939 in Birmingham. After attending Camphill Grammar School for boys he left and had various jobs including working in the office at the local Noss boatyard near Dartmouth. He was an accomplished saxophonist and started working on the Queen Mary crossing over to New York and back. He was then called up for national service in the late 1950s. After finishing his national service he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot. After leaving the Royal Air Force in the late 1960s we all lived in Germany for a while and he works with his brother exporting car parts.
He met my mother in 1965 and after eight weeks they got married on Christmas Eve
After moving to Luton in Bedfordshire around 1972/3 he was the manager of a couple of petrol stations. In the mid-1970s he gained a Masters degree at Cranfield University. After obtaining various other qualifications he started teaching management to adults at Putteridge Bury management school.
We moved down to Devon in 1981 but he continued to commute back and forth to Bedfordshire until 1986, this is when I had my accident which resulted in me having to use a wheelchair permanently. He continued to consult privately until the late 1990s, he then took retirement.
My dad wasn't the sort of person that had a lot to say for himself. Unless he had something to say he wouldn't normally initiate a conversation if you were in the same room as him, he would just sit in his chair quietly reading or doing a crossword. I think people were a little scared of my dad, there were really only a handful of close friends who knew him for who he really was.
My dad was very intelligent and if you wanted something doing then the chances are he would get it done. I really don't know how my sister and I would have coped without him over the last few years. It's not until someone has gone that you then realise just how much this person has done for you.. My dad would often moan and groan if I asked them to do something, but he would always do it for me. He would often annoy me by sitting too close to the door making it difficult for me to get in, I would get angry at him asking why he has to sit so close to the door. But now I would give anything to have him back making it difficult for me to get into the living room. I still say "good morning old-timer" every time I go into the living room after getting up, that will be something I shall continue.
My Mum and Dad celebrated their 50th golden wedding anniversary on December 24, 2015. Even though dad didn't have very long left, he was absolutely determined he was going to reach that milestone, he even managed to drink some champagne and eat some chocolates to celebrate the anniversary.
My old dad could be a cantankerous old fart at times, but that was just his way and I really wouldn't want to change anything about him whatsoever. I'm lucky, I got to spend a lot of time with my dad because we all lived together. We didn't live on top of each other but at least I saw him every day which I now realise is something very special.
I love you old dude, if you are reading this from wherever you are now then all I can say is thank you for being there for me over the years, you made my life so much easier with all the support and help you have given me. Me mum and Gabrielle will never forget you and will think about you every day. One day we will meet up again, that is for sure.