Over 100 friends and neighbours of Ken Taylor came to say their farewell to him at St John’s Itchen Abbas on Monday 28th January 2019. We listened to Heaven was needing a hero by Jo Dee Messina as Ken was brought in. We sang Jerusalem and Make me a channel of your peace. John Purver played the organ. William Wordsworth’s poem Daffodils had been selected by Ken’s daughter Sally and her family and Revd Alex Pease read it. Pauline Goddard (Ken’s niece) read the Bible reading 1 Corinthians 13 in the Authorised Version, a passage which Ken had read at her wedding.
Ken’s daughter Tracey read the following tribute:
Thank you, for all for being here, it is wonderful, that so many of you have travelled by land, sea and air, to be here to celebrate the life of my dearest Dad,
Kenneth George Taylor was born in Ilford, Essex, on December 12th, 1941, son of Doris and George Taylor, to complete their family, Ken soon had a brother Graham.
Ken flourished at school and was appointed Head Boy at Alderbrook Secondary School. His other interests including the Scout movement and he was captain of a local lifesaving club.
After leaving school, Ken joined a gentleman’s outfitters in Ilford, run by a man called Dick Richards, who soon made him a business partner.
Ken met my mum Dianne (Harris) at the local Ilford Pallee, and they soon got engaged with Ken proposing outside their local pub, and married on 2ndMay 1964, and enjoyed their honeymoon in Majorca. Mum and Dad both loved, adored, and both complimented each other so well. They bought their first property together which apparently, they both hated, thinking the other one liked it, so went along with it…..they soon moved again to a three-bed semi in Ilford
Dad was approached and decided to join the Sun Life of Canada as a sales rep in December 1964, selling life assurance policies, and pensions, at their London West End Branch, from what I understand my Uncle Graham quite often was called on to sign for new policies to assist Ken reach his targets. Indeed, Ken claimed that over the years Graham had got a free house with all the maturities of the policies paying out!
My sister was born 13thOctober 1965, chatting to Ken very recently he got very choked up saying that it was one of his proudest moments, becoming a dad to Sally, and later would become a very proud grandad to Thomas and Max.
I soon appeared on 16thMay 1967.
Ken was a real family man, he saw his role to provide for his family, he would go without to provide for us to ensure we had all that we wanted, he never forgot what it was like to have nothing, and that always motivated him to strive to build that nest egg for his family.
In 1968, mum and dad decided to put their property in Ilford up for sale, and saw an advert for a chalet detached style property in a tiny village in Norfolk called Loddon, which included ¼ acre of land for the grand sum of £6,950, Ken got a transfer to the nearest branch which was in those days, was Ipswich in Suffolk, colleagues told him that he didn’t speak the local dialect, and would never survive, they knew no-one and, after all there was no guarantee of any income, it was sink or swim, Ken proved to be the good swimmer, he blossomed. In March 1970 Ken became a unit manager, and started to build his own team, in one letter from Ronnie Johnson he wrote, one hot summer of 1972, you sat in a car outside of my house and waited, on my return you told me the story that changed my life, and I will be forever grateful.
Ken swiftly moved on to the Midlands and after being sent to Coventry, ended up as Assistant Branch Manager of the Birmingham Branch, where he teamed up with Paddy Germain, who became a lifelong friend, I had a lovely conversation with Jo his wife recently, she was telling me that no-one knew that Paddy and Jo were not married, well no-one except Ken and Di, Paddy and Jo asked them to be their witness’s, and as Jo said to me, she knew Di would wear a hat to their wedding!
July 1977 Ken was promoted to the branch manager of Colchester branch, as one of his branch staff said, Ken turned a sleepy branch somewhere in Essex to a Beehive of activity that was proudly known as the Colchester Branch. In 1978 the Colchester Branch won the Presidents Trophy, and one of the units won the McAllister Shield, this would be the equivalent of winning the Premiership title and FA Cup in the same year. As an award, Ken won a trip for himself and Di to visit Canada, mum and dad decided to make a family trip of it, and took us all on a two week trip starting in Florida, and on to Washington DC, and included what we were told was a private visit to the White House, so we were all on parade in our finest outfit’s ready to meet the then president Jimmy Carter ….. dad walks up to a security guard to announce our arrival only to be pointed in the direction of a massive queue and told to join the end of it…..
Ken was again promoted in 1979, to an agency officer based in their head office at Trafalgar Square, London, responsible for branches from Leicester to Aberdeen, and then in 1985 Ken joined as Manager of Leeds branch, and moved to Ilkley, buying a fabulous “upside down house” overlooking the River Wharf, Ken and Di were very happy there, and was a perfect house for entertaining family, and they both loved dinner parties, Ken and Di really loved spending summer evenings on their balcony g and t in hand, followed by a lovely meal and wine, they would enjoy holidays several times each year, Di was always planning their next holidays and both loved to visit different countries.
When he had landed 5 years earlier He taught those Yorkshire folks a whole new language….
May I let you know Kens old saying on achieving monthly targets that “Once is luck, twice is a fluke and Three times is a habit” “But may I suggest dear Boy, that it’s high time for a “Beer and a Bun” He loved his time building a strong successful team and kept in touch with many of his colleagues.
Meanwhile Ken and Di were celebrating their 25thwedding anniversary with a cruise in the Caribbean, and soon after Ken was celebrating his 25thanniversary with the Sun Life of Canada, where they were “hit with a This is your Life K G Taylor” and many of his colleagues over the years contributed to the occasion.
Ken was asked to take up a post in Dublin to be responsible for the Irish Republic for three years and Di once again supported him in his new ventures this time overseas and he was then offered a new role in Hampshire looking after the Southampton Branch, Di who had been unwell for some time was rushed into hospital the night before we were due to move south and Ken, as always knew what to do and left me with mum in the hospital while Ken drove down south with the removal firm and asked if they could off load the entire contents in record time in exchange for a handsome cash bonus so he could rush back up north to be with Di. After an operation and re-couperation Di was given parole and Ken and Di began once again setting up home together here in Itchen Abbas, in Little Hayes Lane, and Ken decided now that he was 54, it was time to retire, plus with Di who was always planning their holidays had lots of ideas for the future after the scare of the cancer. Unfortunately, all too soon, Di became ill again, this time it was a secondary cancer and was in her liver, and on 16thApril 1997 we lost Di and Ken was lost without her.
He was now retired and alone, however he encouraged me, and helped me move out into my own first home, he joined the Alresford Rotary Club, and liked the companionship, made some lovely friends, and remained a member until last year.
Ken was also a founder member of the Monday 827 club, this was an exclusive club of Ken and two of his Little Hayes Neighbours, Alan (Doc) and Bob, who each Monday morning at 827, would meet at the local Avington Golf Club and would be like naughty school boys, chuckling that as the rest of us were dragging ourselves back to work each Monday, they would be taking the mickey out of each other and their golfing abilities. Ken also enjoyed golf with a regular gang of ex sun lifer’s every Thursday.
Around 2005 Ken booked himself on a “mid life adventures holiday” to New Zealand and Australia, and when he arrived he was the quiet member of the group, on the first morning of the holiday, the group were going sailing and the tour guide asked the captain of the yacht to provide a box for all the guests to use as a step onto the yacht. Ken was the first guest to use the step, but his foot went straight through the box, the tour guide panicked that firstly Ken had injured himself and secondly that “oh no here we go law suits” but apparently Ken just lifted his foot up still attached to the box and laughed and laughed and everyone joined in the hysterics…..Ken remained friends with the tour guide right up to the end via emails and cards etc, she commented that he “was a real gentleman, his English humour shone through the whole tour”
Ken was diagnosed last July with Parkinson’s, and only in December, with Lung Cancer, it was found too late for any treatment, he didn’t complain at all, but wanted to remain at home if at all possible, My closest pals called Ken, PAPA KEN, CC and Jan, together with Ali, Avril, Ness, Bob, Dawn, Lin & Ness all helped us so much. Ken’s brother Graham and wife Cathy, who normally spend their winter in Florida, took the first available flight back to the UK, my dear cousin Pauline jumped on a flight from Guernsey, to be with Ken to help, and spend time with him, Kens pals Jan and Steve Gapper, who run Home Instead in Alresford, together with their amazing team, including Liz, all went above and beyond, with their support and help, we all set about to ensure that Ken had the best care possible, and to stay at his home, thank you.
May I share a poem that Ken wrote in my autograph book in 1979
Think of the world as a hill, lass,
See where the millions stop
You’ll find the crowd at the bass lass
But there’s plenty of room at the top
So, my dearest Poppy Pops, Ken, you did, “not bad for a council house boy!” you were my indestructible man mountain, my rock, my friend, my hero, I’m so going to miss you, I love you with all my heart, good night, God Bless and Keep a stout heart! x
Revd Alex Pease gave the following address:
A funeral is a time when we think deeply about one person’s life ….and about life in general
Although I did not know Ken, I have some idea of his character from hearing from Tracey and seeing the wonderful comments made by his colleagues when he retired from his long career at Sun Life.
The word ‘enthusiasm’ constantly comes up along with ‘honest’ ‘hard working’ and ‘loyal’. These are many of the adjectives which fit so well with what St Paul was describing in his letter to the Corinthians which Pamela has just read an extract. In the Authorised Version the word ‘charity’ is used but in the original Greek the word means ‘love’. Ultimately it is love that fuels the first class salesman love that fires enthusiasm; love that is the guardian of honesty hard work and loyalty.
And musing in the graveyard of this church the other day, where the fresh cut flowers were always laid out by Ken on Dianne’s grave, I was struck by how much death robs us of who we are; how little of us apparently remains, even a few decades after we have passed on.
But there is one area of what we do in our lives that never perishes, is never forgotten and is of eternal value: it is love, who we love, how we love.
It is love which survives, because, as St Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians: ‘Love never ends’. Love continues through death into eternity. Not only does love cascade down the generations: how Ken loved Dianne and their girls has an impact on how they love others and so on, but there is also a permanent effect of the love that we show, the loving self sacrifices we make, the effort we make for others, there is a permanent effect in the heavenly realms, that other dimension of which we only have glimpses now, from what CS Lewis calls the Shadowlands in which we now live.
Because, as we show that kind of love, we are mirroring our creator, we are, as it were, acting in unison with the eternal symphony of creation. We are mirroring his Son, Jesus Christ, through whose love for all of us, and by getting to know him now, while we can, we are able to overcome death, and live in eternity with him.
As St Paul continues in our passage; For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see, face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known’
13 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.