Andrew Nielsen Kennedy 1950-2018

We ran out of service sheets pretty early on as there were over 200 people who wanted to celebrate the life of Andrew Kennedy at 2pm at St Mary’s Easton on Tuesday 15th August 2018.

The hymns sung were ‘O Lord my God when I in awesome wonder’, ‘I Vow to thee my country’, ‘Eternal Father strong to save’ and ‘Abide with me’.  The readings were ‘God saw you getting tired’ (read by Denise Kennedy), ‘If I should go’ (read by Anna Mcgowan) and ‘the Broken chain’ (read by Catherine Kennedy). Revd Alex Pease led the service and gave an address and John Purver played the organ.  The processional music was ‘Underneath the Stars’ by Kate Rusby and the recessional music was ‘Goodbye’ by Josef Locke.

David Dingle gave the following tribute about Andrew, the colleague

It was an honour to work with Andrew right from his first year at P&O Cruises to the day he retired from Carnival UK, and it is an equal honour to pay tribute to him as a colleague.  I say “colleague”, but for all of us here who worked with him, he was a great deal more than that – he was our friend.

My first encounter with Andrew was in 1980 I think on Oriana, or possibly Canberra. He was Ship’s Accountant, a position with its own uniquely coloured epaulettes.  I hope he kept them as a badge of his unique role.  I was a very green management trainee at the time, coming to learn what a ship’s accountant did.  I saw very much the serious side of Andrew, for he was always a serious and highly professional finance man.  It was one of those times when I felt that I was sitting at the feet of the master – there were few things which Andrew enjoyed more than imparting knowledge and wisdom, and he was certainly on top form that day.  I’m not sure how much I actually remembered, as credits and debits were never my strongest subjects – so you can imagine how grateful and relieved I was to have Andrew as my Finance Director for 11 years.

For the next 15 years or so, we went our different ways in the Company, Andrew running the financial side of our Fleet Management operation in Southampton and me growing up in Marketing in London.  What I do know about that time is that Andrew grew from being the newly joined Ship’s Accountant to one of the most knowledgeable and erudite people in the Company.  He was the best last-resort for anyone in any doubt – there was very little that he didn’t know, and anything temporarily forgotten could be discovered, after some searching, amongst the voluminous piles of paper for which his desk became famous.

Andrew’s sheer knowledge combined with his professional discipline made him very versatile, meaning that in addition to his role as Finance Director to P&O Princess Cruises and then Carnival in the UK, he oversaw and took responsibility for a whole host of extra functions at various times, often new business disciplines yet to find a home and at other times more specialist departments simply looking for one.  Supply Management, Legal, Insurance, Fleet Manning all came Andrew’s way at various times. 

Probably his greatest achievement beyond his strictly financial responsibilities was the building of Carnival House in Southampton, a project which transformed our Company and truly moved it into the 21stCentury.  On paper it was a low-budget production but what Andrew delivered was truly amazing – a comfortable and highly attractive place to work which immediately created a collaborative atmosphere, strengthening and unifying our team.  Its atrium is the stand-out feature and the building is, in the minds of very many, the best corporate headquarters south of London.  Few people create such a long-lasting legacy and it must have been of particular pride to Andrew when Sue officially opened the building in 2009.

But we remember Andrew as much for what he was like to work with as for the great things he achieved.  And we remember him very fondly.  We remember him for his wit, his wisdom and his knowledge, often all three rolled into one.  His erudition extended way beyond his business knowledge and he delighted in using a musical or literary quote to make a point.  Often he endeared himself with his sheer obscurity – many of us will remember “Will it sell in Peoria?” (his contribution to any marketing debate) or “Pelion piled on top of Ossa” (which meant things were going pear-shaped). If nothing else we were all grateful for a moment’s levity.

We also remember how Andrew would view the people who worked for him as his extended family.  He cared for them a great deal, he coached, coaxed and encouraged them.  Just as he was loyal to the Company, he was loyal to his team and they were loyal to him.  Many will be grateful for how Andrew helped them build successful careers.

But most of all, we remember Andrew as a friend – generous, hospitable, always willing to give of himself. We remember particularly fondly the management dinners at his local pub.  Friday night at the pub was sacrosanct for Andrew – but somewhat inconveniently management dinners were also arranged for Fridays.  So Andrew proposed the obvious solution – and what a good solution it was. All of us who went along will always those occasions – they were fun and we rarely left on time.  Through wit and wisdom, sociability and friendship, Andrew gave so much to all the people he worked with – and we are so very grateful.

So today we say goodbye to a great colleague and a great friend.  Andrew – you will always be in our minds and in our hearts.

Chris Foreman gave the following tribute to Andrew, the friend

I have been best mates with Andrew for well over 30 years.

During the last period of his illness, I was fortunate to spend some precious time with him when he was in a relatively good place.

When we met, he was weak in body but not in spirit and we talked old times, football, this and that.  Laughed as we had always done.  It was a joy to be in his company again.  I am immensely grateful for those few hours with my dear friend.

Andrew being Andrew, he was getting things organised. He asked me to speak today, and as you would expect, the instructions were clear. I was to talk about friendship and good times.

I’ve since concluded that in making his request, Andrew was telling us all that, in his last weeks, he was thinking of us.  As we are now thinking of him.

I told him he was probably asking the wrong person.  Not least, because as anyone who has socialised at length with Andrew might tell you, it’s not always easy to remember the details!

Well, here we all are – and what more fitting tribute to the man could there be? A church full of his family and many, many friends from all parts of his life.

We all admired Andrew and loved to be in his company.  

We know he could occasionally be irritated by people and events; that he had a sharp wit and could sometimes be out of humour. I always knew when I was on the wrong tack or about to be corrected because there would be a little clearing of the throat before a gentle putting straight.

But, even in his testier moments, the softness always came; the shrug, the laugh, the back on track.  I loved him for that – that he could be laughed back to being Andrew.  

I would say he was not an overly emotional man.  He didn’t invite a heart-to-heart.  Yet when I needed to share a worry, he was a ready and understanding listener, and I valued his advice.  He used to tell me, “You can only play the hand you’ve been dealt, the best you can.” And so, of course, we must.

Andrew gave himself totally to the business of friendship.  Conversation of the highest order was his delight, mixed with humour, wit, and some gossip when he could get it.  His knowledge on all subjects was, as we know, phenomenal but his superb intellect did not limit his interests.

He chose his friends as much for their character and their sense of fun, as for their powers of debate.  It helped if you showed an interest in the fortunes of Sheffield United! And all things train or tram. And current affairs.  And travel.  And the odd pint or two!

Rita and I have known Andrew and Sue since almost the very beginnings of our lives in Easton.  We met and hit it off straight away. We were soon buying bikes and cycling around the villages, exploring  local pubs – some  detaining us longer than planned –  playing badminton.   And gradually being drawn into Easton village life.

We met the parents, Tom and Dorothy and Jack and Jean, and they met ours. We got to know the friends they had made before.

We then had the immense good fortune to link up with Terry and Anna and Sue and John. Our gang of eight was born.

The eight of us, together with other very excellent friends, safari-suppered, village feted, fireworked. We pantomimed, we drinks-partied, we dined, we theatre-tripped.  We supported, to our very best endeavours, the Cricketers and the Chestnut Horse.

Incidentally, the Cricketers quiz team – AND INDEED ANY QUIZ TEAM WITH ANDREW IN IT – was pretty much unbeatable!

We house-extended and we saw each other’s children arrive and grow.

Traditions evolved; the  G R Q C,  the planning meetings, the phone calls to check if jackets should be worn, arranging our New Year’s Eves  together.

Others will have memories of holidays they spent with Sue and Andrew. Here are some that are personal to Rita and to me:

  • Andrew’s retirement cruise that we were asked to share: New York, meeting up with Ina and Glyn in Greenwich Village, Boston, Canada, cocktails, ten course meals, dancing until the early hours. Both couples, wanting the very last bite of the Big Apple, independently nearly missing the ship.
  • Trips to France before and after parenthood, a gite with pigeons in the kitchen and worse evidence of their presence in Sue and Andrew’s bedroom. Which they had nobly chosen even though it lacked a ceiling!
  • In Turkey with the children. Sue nearly buying a carpet, except we all knew (apart from the carpet seller) that she never would.  Andrew standing by, patiently waiting, loving her involvement, her earnestness, her fascination for all things, but knowing that his bank balance was unlikely to be affected.

On reflection that probably wasn’t Andrew’s favourite type of holiday – swimming pool and sun beds. Cocktails on bar stools in the pool was a minor plus. What saved it for him was when we all trooped off to the local ancient ruined amphitheatre to sit on cold stone in the night air to watch a performance of Nabucco!    

Then we have the gang of 8 trips abroad, often with other Easton friends, sharing magic moments in places such as:  

Le Touquet – our first adventure and our first time of searching for a restaurant with just the right AMBIENCE.

Bayeux – with Andrew translating the Latin;

Deauville – laughing over the awfulness of an  ON DWEE ETTE sausage;

Bruges – celebrating John’s 40thbirthday for the third, or was it fourth, time?

ANDREW and Terry poring over an enormous restaurant bill in the very early hours after that birthday dinner.  Still not sure how that got sorted.

Fabulous meals in lovely French chateaux found for us by Sue B.  

Nearly missing a ferry home –  the cheers of the watching locals as John screeched up the ferry ramps at the very last second just before they were about to rise.

In later years, the eight of us spent time exploring the south of France with Terry and Anna and John and Sue at their respective properties.  Dining and dancing still.    More recently we settled into country house hotel mode as a gentler way to meet up.

Last year, six of the gang went to India. Another unforgettable trip organised for us by Andrew and his contacts to celebrate zero birthdays for Terry and me.  Taj Mahal, Golden Temple, Shimla (toy trains – an especial favourite!)  I still have to pinch myself that we did it.

Andrew was, as some of you also know, a fantastic travel planner. The thing about going anywhere with him was his encyclopaedic knowledge of the destination. The man was a walking timetable and guidebook.  Didn’t matter where we were he had researched everything. Trams in Warsaw, buses and trains in Berlin and India… all in his head.

He was, I think, one of the few people on the planet who could make sense of the New York underground system.

One thing I would say about these overseas adventures was that you had to be prepared for them. The routine was up early, good breakfast then out for the day, not much chance of lunch. Off to see ALL the sights. And I mean ALL OF THEM!

We certainly would not have seen the inside of so many churches if it hadn’t been for Sue and Andrew! Rita and I let them go it alone in Portofino. That last hill climb was too much for us.

I could go on but you will all have your own recollections, particularly of times after Rita and I had left Easton, now more than 20 years ago.

For us it feels as if we’ve never been away.  There is no end to the warmth with which we are welcomed back:

  • a room with air-conditioning laid on in an instant;
  • another room lovingly prepared for us for the very first time;
  • an annexe freely offered when we needed a Hampshire base.

In April we all gathered – our gang of eight – for a surprise celebration of JB’s 70thbirthday.  Andrew, giving no sign of his pain, served us drinks as we waited for John; Sue had prepared lavish canapés; Anna cooked a splendid dinner and had the pleasure of hearing Andrew say it was the first time in many weeks he’d enjoyed a meal.

We sat and talked of old times and how we had all met and how we had laughed.  It was somehow prophetic that the evening should have gone that way.

A grand finale to the eight, but by no means the end of our strong friendship for those that remain.  

Andrew loved Easton and made many, many friends here. He loved opera at The Grange, the parties, the community events, all of it.   He and Sue were at the heart of all that was happening. 

Easton is a happy place, and it is a real place, with its share of heartache as well as success.  It is filled with bright, compassionate, interesting, and amusing people.  And loyal friends.  That was Andrew.  He was all of those things and more.  A very, very good man. 

Which is why I know that us – all his many friends – will help to take care of Sue and Christopher and Catherine for him.  Now and in the future.

Lastly from me, just to say it has been the greatest joy to have known ANDREW NIELSEN KENNEDY, to have had so many laughs with him, and to have been able to call him best friend.

Thank you.

Chris Kennedy gave the following tribute to his father, the family man:

It’s an interesting quirk of religious custom and western society that we gather together on mass, a person’s family and closest of friends, for three major events in that person’s life, but the recipient will generally only remember one of these three, and even that is largely dependent on how much wine is drank at the wedding reception. As a result, one rarely gets to see the number of lives they have touched and thus the volume of affection people have for them.

I do know however that Dad, a generally humble man would have been truly overwhelmed by the turnout here today, as are Mum, Cat and myself. I also know that as we gather here today, beyond these church walls candles are being lit and kind words spoken in memory of Dad in far flung destinations: America, Italy, Australia, Southern France, India and Sheffield to name but a few, by those who were unable to make it to be here in person today. A fine legacy for a man who next to family would have placed travel as his greatest passion.

I had hoped that the next time I stood up in front of so many wonderful family and friends that it would be one of the happy occasions in life but unfortunately that was not to be.

After 9 months of pain but with seemingly explainable ailments, when improvement was not found, the finger of blame was pointed at Dad’s pancreas. Even to the non-medical, a quick google search told you everything you needed to know and our worst fears were confirmed a few weeks later when a scan confirmed inoperable pancreatic cancer. Within three months of this diagnosis, Dad was taken from us when after a week of sharp decline, he passed away at home in his own bed with his family around him.

As you would expect, he remained dignified until the end. This was summed up on one of his last days, more or less bed bound and having lost most of his mobility, we had a house call from his GP. We left him in bed for a few moments to go and meet the doctor and update him on the changes. Upon returning to the bedroom, we found Dad had dressed himself and was sat on the edge of the bed, hand outstretched for a handshake. We were amazed that he had managed it, but the doctor was coming to visit and standards had to be maintained.

Dad was a proud and proficient pragmatist, the quote on the front of the service sheet; ‘It is what it is’, was one of his best used phrases. It is a true mark of the man that despite a year in constant pain, and a terminal cancer diagnosis, he never once complained, there was never a ‘why me’, there were no ‘if only’s, just a resolute, rational acceptance of what was happening. A raised eye brow perhaps, a reassuring smile and some gallows humour to put us at ease, despite the fact that our world was crashing down around us.

Dad was born in Sheffield in 1950 and stayed there for his early years. He was the first-born son to Tom and Dorothy, and eldest brother to Richard and Gillian who along with their families are here with us today. Dad qualified as a chartered accountant and was working locally in Sheffield when he stumbled across an advert in a newspaper for a Ship’s Accountant for the P&O steam navigation company and made the decision to run away to sea. It was a decision that would change the course of his life completely. After a number of years establishing the new role on board he applied and was accepted for a job in the office. He did not leave sea empty handed though. On the good ship Canberra, he met Susan, our beautiful mother and soon after they married in Derbyshire, 33 years ago and started their next chapter together in the Village of Easton. In the scorching summer of 1989 their peaceful existence was shattered by the arrival of their first-born son, and 18 months later a daughter.

Dad was a man of extraordinary knowledge and intelligence and read extensively on many different subjects. He was actually a runner up on the radio show ‘Brain of Britain’ in his early 20s. On our cruise holidays, we would often compete as a family in the infamous syndicate quiz. This is a highly competitive event for teams of 6 and it was a shock to all when we, a family of 4, Cat and I still young children, won on more than a few occasions. They would come over and say ‘Where is the rest of your team?’ and we would say ‘This is us!’. Despite this outstanding intelligence, and with the exception of the odd quiz win, Dad never sought glory; only truth, honour and to further his own knowledge. This could be frustrating at times. You knew he had the answer, but you did not necessarily know the right question to ask him to get it.

Despite his intelligence, his humility and dignity made him always approachable, he was wise council and living with him gave you confidence. He empowered us to make our own decisions in life, providing the options and explaining the pros and cons but always being caution to ensure that the decisions we made were our own.

As I went out in the world I felt safe in the knowledge that Dad was on the end of the phone ready to offer assistance and advice. When the sink started to leak, the mortgage needed to be renewed, the tyre was flat and all of life’s other challenges to those new at adulting. I think it is this reassurance and guiding hand that I will miss the most.

Dad was scrupulous in his honesty and integrity, I always knew he was but going through his papers and accounts I have been reminded of this frequently. One letter in particular sticks in my mind where he had written to the gas company to inform them that the estimated consumption figure used to close the account was less that the actual, as dad put it they ‘had done themselves a disservice in using an estimated reading and as a result had overestimated what they owed him by about 70 pounds and should therefore reduce the rebate accordingly’.

As I mentioned, next to his family, and possibly Sheffield United, Dad’s greatest passion in life was travel. When he was not traveling he would be meticulously, perhaps almost obsessively, planning his next adventure. He would spend hours memorising timetables, even going as far as walking the routes we would take on google street view so that when we arrived at our destination his local knowledge was infallible. Upon retirement, Dad had four big trips in mind; South America, Southern Africa, Asia and Australia. I am pleased to say that despite being in the early onset of the illness, he was able to complete the last of the four, a trip to Australia, at the start of the year, even visiting the spot where he proposed to Mum some 34 years ago.

I mentioned in a speech I made for Dad’s 60thbirthday the following quote; ‘The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother’. This Dad excelled at. His love for mum was boundless and evident in all he did. Mum and Dad have been soulmates and amiable companions for 35 years. With this in mind, I must mention my incredible mother. To watch the person you love fade away before your eyes must be the hardest thing anyone has to go through, especially when they still had so much love to give and life to live. She has gone through this terrible ordeal with incredible compassion, commitment, strength and bravery.

Throughout this time, we have all been overwhelmed by the support and outpouring of love from near and far, whatever you did, be it a kind word in the street, sending one of the many cards and letters or even those that delivered food to the door, created these beautiful flowers in church and helped get this service together as well as refreshments for after in the village hall, on behalf of Mum, Cat and I, thank you.

Thank you also to those who have donated to the Winchester hospice in Andrew’s name. Fortunately, we did not need direct hospice care for Dad, but if we had have done this would have been in Southampton, which would have put additional strain on him and the family. We felt that supporting the building of a hospice in Winchester would be such a huge benefit to local people who find themselves in a similar place to us in the future. Even if you do not wish to donate please do visit Dad’s page on the ‘Much Loved’ website as it has pictures and a place to leave thoughts and memories and thank you to those that already have.

Whilst the pain is overwhelming now, and the sense of loss feels endless we can take solace in the fact that Dad does lives on. He lives on in all he has built for us, all the memories he created with us and perhaps most importantly all of the lessons he has taught us. For Cat and I, he, along with our wonderful mother, made us who we are today, and I speak for both of us when I say that we will continue trying to make him proud of the people we are and will become, so that in us his legacy lives on.

If happiness is measured as a function of the time we have to enjoy it, it would be easy to feel short changed by Dad’s passing. But if happiness is measured as a volume, as a total of the amount that you enjoyed together, we must have had more than our fair share. Our family of four have had just the best time together. We have supported each other, we have shared victories, we have laughed, we have travelled, we have eaten and drank, we have been the best of friends. Under Dad’s leadership we have been the tightest of units and it’s the knowledge of this and the memories we have shared together that let me know that in time, we will be okay.

Finally, I would like to leave you with this thought. As you would expect we have a wine-rack in the house. As you would also expect this was very well organised with the cheaper quaffing wine on the top few shelves and then the further down you go the older and more expensive they became, until you got to the bottom shelf – to the dust encrusted wines from the past, being saved for a special occasion. The speed of the onset of Dad’s illness meant that by the time he discovered it was life limiting, he had no taste for wine and as a result of this, never got to drink these revered bottles.

So your homework, after all I am the son of a teacher, and you can look at this as either metaphorical or literal; I suggest both. Next time you are reaching for a bottle, go for the bottom shelf, blow off the dust and drink a toast to Andrew.

Life is precious and unpredictable, you never know what’s around the corner, so savour each drop.









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