St John’s Church, Itchen Abbas was packed full for the Thanksgiving Service to celebrate the life of Alan Jordan on Thursday 6th February 2020.
The service was led by Revd. Andrew Micklefield. The hymns Praise my Soul, Come Down, O Love Divine and Great is thy Faithfulness were sung and John 14:1-6, 27 was the Bible reading. John Bouldin prepared and said the prayers.
This tribute was read by Alan’s sons Adrian and Phillip:
Can we start by saying that Dad would be humbled and embarrassed to see that so many friends are here this afternoon. Mum and all of us are so very glad you could come to share in this celebration of Dad’s life with us all. Thank you.
Dad was born in Hammersmith and started school in Acton then off to Latymer Upper in Hammersmith. He had a short experience as an evacuee with his family in Bolton before returning to London. It was in Ealing that Dad met Mum -when Dad was 15, this young girl was struggling to put her bicycle away at the side of the church and Dad helped her with it. Their friendship blossomed over maths as both were having tuition with consecutive lessons, with Dad’s lesson preceding Mum’s. Dad took to lingering after his lesson finished until Mum’s had finished hers, just so that he could see her. They later started “stepping out together”.
After School, Dad went to King’s College London before qualifying in 1956 from St Georges before spending 2 years National Service at War Office. This was where we see an early sign of Dad’s work ethos – Dad thought he should work from at least 9 – 5 but his sergeant, John Pycroft put him right – that was just not the army way!
Dad entered general practice in Finchley, where the senior partner was the aptly named Doctor Nurse (Uncle Roy to us kids). It was only when Dad got this stable job that his father would allow him to get married, with them celebrating their 60thanniversary in May and indeed 73 years of being together.
As a GP for 37 years, he had the largest practice in Finchley and was absolutely loved by his patients. We remember his dedication to duty, being on call every Monday and Thursday night, going out to calls with his gardening clothes on over his pyjamas. This was in the days before mobile phones and pagers and Mum would have a list of the places he visited with the phone numbers just in case another call came in. She would try and track him down to stop him coming back home just to go out again. He seemed to rarely have an uninterrupted night but would always go straight to work the following morning
For many years, Dad was chairman of Local Medical Committee and as such had meetings with his local MP, Margaret Thatcher and at times was invited to No. 10 to discuss views on the impact of changes on general practice. Apparently Margaret Thatcher was rather taken aback at how pleasant Dad was (perhaps expecting some left leaning medical activist!). But in his inimitable and gentle way he once floored the PM referring the matter back to Secretary of State at the Department of Health. I understand that this was the inception of Trust status and Dad cautioned that GP health delivery would never be the same again if this model was used – we can all take a view on Dad’s wisdom.
As Dad, he always had time for us but growing up as a doctor’s children had its challenges. Household medicines were commonly out of date, if we were ill, “there was a lot of it about” and when Adrian pushed me down the stairs resulting in a broken arm, despite my protestations of pain, it was a few days before he relented and I went to hospital and was put in plaster. Mind you, Dad was more responsive when I hit Adrian over the head with a cricket stump leaving him bleeding profusely. Dad was none too impressed, but truth be told, neither was Adrian.
He was our early form of “Google”, being so patient with homework, tutoring on trigonometry and algebra, but did not like doing Venn diagrams and that “new-fangled maths”. He actively engaged in school projects and still is a little bit miffed when Alison (and his!) Migration project did not get a Good work mark like everybody else’s. He gave up so much of his time to support us in our school and extracurricular activities, ferrying the three of us to many music and sporting events without complaint but just enjoying spending time with us.
“Being a little bit miffed” was about as strong as Dad would express his ire. He was always quietly spoken, never shouted, did not like loud noises (just like his father). Even when Alison and Mum broke his favourite hoe by reversing over it and sending it flying in the road, he never shouted; when in this church the morning after Alison’s wedding, he was holding the steps / chair as mum gave the flowers a good watering, Dad was getting an impromptu hair wash, all he could say was “Dear, that’s enough” in a mild tone. The most we would hear would be “Glory be” or “Oh my giddy aunt”.
He loved and was rightfully proud of his garden and spent every spare moment in there with a particular love of bonfires. When Adrian and I were at University, Alison was by default the assistant gardener and on Saturday mornings Dad would have her in garden centres helping to shovel up free manure, notwithstanding her wearing her best shoes, dismissing her reasonable concerns about the residual scent. Whilst he was aided by Alison, the same could not be said for Zoe, our Dalmatian. In all fairness, Dad did not invest too much time in training Zoe and when she helped with the digging he was yet again a little bit miffed. Mind you Zoe also enabled Dad to take up jogging as she would rarely return to the lead when called. One day, on Hampstead Heath, she tore off after a jogger with Dad following at a more modest pace whilst calling her. As dutiful kids, we knew this would take some time, so just sat on a hillside and enjoyed watching the spectacle of the jogger appearing from the woods on the far side of a lake, to be closely followed by Zoe and then after a while, Dad emerged at a more modest pace whilst still gesticulating wildly.
We had such fun growing up – he loved playing board games and parties, even when he was totally caught out at his surprise 60thparty, opening the front door to so many friends and family in his red braces and a big “I am 60” badge. We all enjoyed many lovely holidays with friends and family be it our regular Easter holidays in the Lake District with our Uncle, Aunt and cousins, or our summer holidays in Switzerland and France with David, Den, Kim and Roger. These were filled with so much laughter and so many antics that they still bring a smile to our faces.
On retiring in 1994, Mum and Dad moved here to Itchen Abbas and then to Alresford in 2014. They were so happy and really appreciated the welcome they got and the support they received and continue to receive from their many friends in the Valley. They threw themselves into village life in its many forms with Dad also serving two terms here as Churchwarden. As all here today know, as a team they always offered a most welcoming home and shared fun and laughter with so many. Dad took up golf and so enjoyed being part of the 8:27 group who would go 3 times a week to Itchen Abbas golf club and spending much time with his new friends Ken and Bob. Even in retirement he would have a go at new things – this ranged from ploughing up the Mediterranean in his water skiing venture (spending the rest of the afternoon with water dripping out of his ears and nose); he was game for sailing with us in a tiny Mirror Dingy doing frequent trips from Lymington to Yarmouth dodging Cunard liners, ferries and cruise ships from Southampton. And even after his first stroke, Alison fitted him out in a wetsuit at Woolacombe and he was back on the original family surfboard that he bought in 1968.
Mum and all of us have received so many letters, card and notes all speaking of the lasting impact that Dad made on them. Everyone comments on his quiet gentle nature, that smile (I think typified by the photograph on the service sheet) which over the decades meant so much to so many people and conveyed much love and warmth to everyone whom he met. Many have written or spoken of the impact he had on them, either through his working life or as a friend. His gentle and kind nature defined him – one of Dad’s school friends from the 40s (Alan Ruffhead) with whom Dad lost touch when he moved away with his parents, happened to get back in touch with Dad decades later when one of Dad’s patients spoke of her most kind and wonderful GP and Alan made the connection that it was Dad!
He was very proud of all of us children and gave us all his love and was so interested in and supportive of his grandchildren who have been lucky to have known him and enjoyed such special times with him. His sense of fun, loyalty and strong work ethos has been passed onto all of us. And we hope his lovely smile that was with him until the end, has been passed on to the Grandchildren. Dad, you were truly the gentle in “gentleman” loved by us all and are sorely missed.
Alan’s daughter Alison read this poem:
To Those Whom I Love and Those Who Love Me
When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,
But be thankful we had so many good years.
I gave you my love, and you can only guess
How much you’ve given me in happiness.
I thank you for the love that you have shown,
But now it is time I travelled on alone.
So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It is only for a while that we must part,
So treasure the memories within your heart.
I won’t be far away for life goes on.
And if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me, I will be near.
And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear,
All my love around you soft and clear.
And then, when you come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and a ‘Welcome Home’.
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