My Granddad Bob was a silly, kind-hearted man who was there for everyone. He defined himself by his humour, his love and his scouting.
Scouting to him was a privilege that he entered to when he was very young and he was still repaying that confidence it gave him to the day he died. He had achieved many things as a Scout. He had become the district commissioner of Woolwich Scouts, he had camped all over the world and helped a great many children find confidence in themselves like he had found himself when he was a child. I know that, like me some years later, he had been chosen to represent Scouting by selling programmes to the royal wedding between Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. He was a star and always trying to do an active role within scouting and community. Only until relatively recently did he give up his volunteer role at the London Marathon were he routinely helped the water stations in Greenwich. To many people he was an ideal, dedicated scout.
Still helping the Woolwich Gang Show (scouting variety show) by painting the scenery in 2011
He was much more though to many more people. My experience of my Grandad Bob is predominantly formed of the family get togethers. And we had loads. Every Christmas, birthday and Guy Fawkes Night, more often than not, we would gather at my Grandad’s. Even during the long summer holidays, I can remember spending time round at my Grandad’s playing with cousins and having a great time. But the Christmases and Guy Fawkes Nights were special. Every year we would have our traditions. In which Grandad shone as the jolly smirking old man, like a talisman for the family. Our Christmases, after Nan passes away, would say a word before our lunch, and for a man often seen as a silly, he always had a poetic and heartful touch that would take us through to new year. On Guy Fawkes Night he would, as we all would, get fully involved lighting the fuses (when it was his turn that was dictated by age order) and running back to marvel in the explosions. He always had the best one unlike me. Thanks to him and my Nan we have loads of lving memories to look back on and loads of photos to sift through of us cousins all together, whether that be in the garden in a paddling pool, in the old ambulance turned mini-coach on our way down to St Marys Bay or on some forgotten campsite.
Some of the memories we had, the top right pic I am led to believe he is taking the picture. Thanks!
These memories are shared between me and the rest of the Gammons and we will always have a host of shared memories that we will be grateful of for the rest of our lives. I did have some time alone with him though, I would like to say they were nice and peaceful but the truth is they were loud and chatty. In the times, we spent sat in his front room, I would listen to the stories that many would have heard. I enjoyed them all the same, it is remarkable to think he was lived through the blitz as a child (his mum refused to evacuate him), survived Chron’s disease before the NHS and had grew up to have a successful and fulfilling life but always returning home to South-East London. He told me that he hated Hitler, not for the blitz, not for taking out his home but for taking out his cabbage that he was growing as a kid. But despite these great anecdotes I personally loved chatting comedy with my Grandad. It was one love we shared and we talked religiously about every sketch show, performer and live show, often repetitively acting out different bits.
Me, Grandad Bob and my Dad at the 2015 Woolwich Gang Show
All the family knew how much he missed my Nan after she passed away fourteen years ago. She had been his life and even last week he told me during a conversation about my parents that “people fall out of love, well I mean, they must do, I wouldn’t know!” before reaffirming he was glad that they both my mum and dad were happy. I was only little when nan passed away but have stayed at my Grandad’s as an adult for periods of varying time and could still see echoes of her life in him. During one of my stays, quite a few years ago, he was showing me how to use the washing machine, before I told him I already knew how. He then showed me he still had written instructions that our Nan had lovingly written for him before she went to hospital, with brilliantly drawn diagrams for every household chore. They were old-fashioned and he was never allowed to do the washing or cooking, but he told me he would have done all the washing and cooking, every single day just to see her again. It made me tear up and seeing this he told me something else I will always hold: “never go to bed on an argument. Make up and kiss goodnight, so you’ll never be left with a regret.” He was fortunate that didn’t have any regrets.
The last picture I took of him. Last Wednesday when he was helping me pack up, he saw this and decided to pose, typical Grandad! The featured pic is me and him when i was a little boy.
Luckily the last few memories I have with my Grandad are kind. Since I started writing this blog I have seen a good amount from him. Like when we went to the carvery and he gave us a folder full of his latest artwork that he had lovingly photocopied for us, he also had a picture in which he had scanned a cut out of his head on top of it all, like a 20th Century style photoshop. More importantly it was him who calmed me down after I suffered my panic attack last Wednesday, as I was living with him at the time. He talked me down, told me find something I love as a career and take it one step at a time. “You probably weren’t happy making another man a millionaire!” he laughed after he had seen I was in a better state. Then he helped me gather my things before taking the above picture. After moving my stuff out, I managed to see him that one last time at my brother’s 21st party. He was in high spirits then, laughing at my brother’s drinking and enjoying the evening with us and that is how I will remember him.
I do not truly believe in the afterlife, but if there is one I know he will be the happiest man there as Nan will have her silly Bob back. But we do not need a heaven to have people live on. In a world where action causes an effect, then I know the countless kind actions my Grandad Bob made will ripple through his family and friends forever. Scouting in Woolwich and the rest of the south-east will have the headquarters on Waverly Road that he helped transform and will always have the energy that he infused into this great cause. His friends will be changed forever, as one act of kindness inspires another. And his family, we will have lost of one of the kindest, cheeky yet loving people we knew, but because of him we will have learned that kindness, embraced his cheeky set of humour as our own and we will always have that love we have learned from him and that will ripple down the family, to those who haven’t even been born yet and they too will be grateful of our Grandad Bob.
I miss you Grandad, you will always be a source of inspiration, hope and love. Thank you.