Allan's granddaughter Rachael created and read this eulogy at his funeral:
Allan Morse – Eulogy by Rachael Craig
Shy, quiet, introverted are all words that have never been used to describe my Grandad, Allan Morse. That’s one of the many reasons that everyone here in this room was so fond of him and why there are so many of us here to celebrate him today.
Grandad was born on 25 December 1941 and was the first of Albert and Marjorie Morse’s seven children. It is no coincidence that he was born on Christmas day. It takes a special and unique character to pull off that birthday, and Grandad certainly fit the bill.
Grandad spent his early years in the Forest of Dean, first in Viney Hill and then Severn View Road, Yorkley. However, following the decline of the local mining industry, the family had to move to follow Albert’s work. So, in 1954 Albert moved to Stoke, with the rest of the family (Marjorie and her then six sons) following him in 1955. They settled in 19 Bath Street, Weston Coyney and shortly after Albert and Marjorie welcomed Grandad’s final sibling, his sister Kathy. As a young boy Grandad enjoyed family holidays at Butlins and in Wales.
Grandad recalled that Sunday lunch was always special when he was young – a tradition that he continued throughout his life. Grandad’s Sunday roasts were the very best of Sunday roasts and me and Laura have always been huge fans of his mashed potato, in particular! Even when he was recently admitted to hospital on the Friday evening, he was quite determined that he would be out in time to cook his joint of roast beef on the Sunday. Whilst it wasn’t to be that weekend, he made up for it in the weeks after! Grandad was also a talented baker making wedding cakes for his sister’s wedding and many others as well as Christmas cakes for friends and family most years.
From an early age, Grandad excelled as a musician. He was an active member of the Church choir along with his brother, Ken, and also learned to play the piano, sometimes performing in public. A quote from the local newspaper in 1955 described him as a “promising” junior member of the Yorkley Onward band, where he played the cornet. Grandad’s love for music continued throughout his life and he would often announce to the family the latest artist he had “discovered” – amongst other well-known artists, he “discovered” two-time Brit award winner James Blunt, Katie Melua who at the time of Grandad’s discovery just so happened to be Britain’s best-selling female artist, and Grammy award winning Sam Smith! I believe he really did actually discover Mercury Award winner, Anthony and the Johnsons much to his siblings’ amusement.
Sport was also a huge part of Grandad’s life. As a child Grandad enjoyed boxing and cricket. Before the family bought their first TV, Grandad would listen to the boxing on the radio. Grandad played cricket for his local teams where for reasons I am yet to find out he was known as “Elvis”. I am told that the first football team Grandad supported was Arsenal, his dad having taken him on the train to see them play against Bristol City in the early 1950s. His favourite striker was Doug Lishman who, upon retiring from football a few years later, setup a furniture shop just down the road from the Morse household. You can only imagine Grandad’s excitement as a young man when Lishman turned up at the family home one afternoon to deliver a carpet! I am told that Steve has the autographed Arsenal manual to prove it!
Grandad’s allegiances changed when the family moved to Stoke and since then he has been a faithful Stoke City follower. Ever the optimist, Grandad would regularly say “not a problem” when he heard who Stoke were up against next, whoever it might be. Knowing what we know now, over the past 80 years it might have been a less painful life as a supporter if Grandad had stuck with Arsenal! Although, he would no doubt have told me off for saying that.
Grandad began his education in the local village school at Viney Hill, before attending Lydney Grammar School. From Lydney Grammar, Grandad moved to Longton High School where apparently, he found homework a bit of a chore! In his later years at Longton High, Grandad would borrow his Dad’s Norton motorbike to get to school, holding his satchel between his knees.
In his school days I am told that Grandad was not a shy boy – somewhat unsurprising to hear! Great Grandma would often have one thing or another to tell Grandad off for, but Grandad would start pulling faces and they would soon collapse in laughter and the whole thing would be forgotten.
Around this time, Grandad was also a uniformed cadet and had a part time paper round. When asked what career path he would like to follow after leaving school, Grandad said he would like to go into catering. His headmaster’s response was, “Catering is for cissies, Morse.”
Undeterred by his headmaster’s words Grandad’s working life began in catering. This particular career choice led him to The Garden House hotel in Cambridge. It was here that he met my Grandma, Pat. Grandma took Grandad home to Manea to introduce him to the family and it wasn’t long before the whole village (which was admittedly quite small) knew and loved him. Equally, Grandma was a hit with the Morses having had a similar village upbringing to them.
Grandma and Grandad were great friends with their colleagues, John and Pat. I recently spoke with John on the phone and he told me how he and Grandad had been the best of friends in the 60s. He told me how they purchased their beloved Jezebel together. For those that are not familiar, Jezebel was a car – a much loved Morris 8. John told me how he and Grandad would go for a drive together once their shift had finished around midnight. John would always offer to drive on the way out so that Grandad would have to drive home – meaning that John could have a cuddle and a kiss in the back of the car with his Pat on the way back!
Grandma and Grandad were married in Manea Church on 1 August 1964 surrounded by family and friends. The reception was held at the Church Room and following their wedding they set off on a touring honeymoon. Grandma described Grandad as a wonderful husband and said that they had a fantastic life together.
Shortly after their wedding, Grandma gave birth to their first child in June 1965, my mum Sharon. When Grandad told me of mum’s arrival in later years, he told me how he was in the bookies when he received the news; his response was “lovely, I’ll pop over to the hospital after the 3:20 at Lingfield.” They started their life as a family of three in Worthing. By this time, Grandad’s expertise in catering had steered him into a role as lecturer of Hotel Management at Worthing College of Further Education.
I have touched on Grandad’s love for horse racing; throughout his life he enjoyed a regular small bet on the horses, and he even managed to bag himself one last Grand National winner in this year’s race. For a short time, Grandad was part of a syndicate owning a very small part of a racehorse of his own, September Breeze. I am told that September Breeze was not much of a winner and sadly died in an accident not too long after she was purchased! I can just imagine his response, bloody donkey! Grandad’s gambling was not just limited to horse racing, I understand his gambling career goes as far back as a trip away for a few days as a boy – having saved his pocket money, he lost it all playing Brag on the train journey out. He told his siblings that that they would never catch him gambling again, he was willing to bet on it!
Before long, Grandad’s teaching career brought him to Leicestershire and to Loughborough College. He moved his family here to Shepshed where they settled first in Patterson Place. Shortly after, Grandma and Grandad welcomed their second child, a son – Dave. As a family of four they enjoyed holidays in Cornwall. Whilst the family did travel abroad to Ostend and La Baule, Mum and Dave recall that Grandma and Grandad seemed to truly find their passion for travelling abroad once their children had grown up and were no longer holidaying with them! Mum and Dave also remember Grandad taking them to the local swimming pool on Sunday mornings.
The family moved to Conway Drive in the mid-70s; Conway Drive was home for the rest of Grandad’s life. On behalf of both Grandad and the whole family I would like to say a huge thank you to Dave, Mum, Dad and Joe whose stellar efforts caring for Grandad in his final weeks meant that he could spend his last days there surrounded by family.
Whilst I did not know Grandad as a Dad to his children when they were young, I have observed them over the years as adults. The three of them, Mum, Dave and Grandad were great friends. Fiercely competitive, they could make a contest out of anything – in recent years it was who could complete Wordle in the least number of rows. Grandad still holds the title, being the only one to have ever got it in one! However, a newspaper puzzle, TV quiz show or Christmas game of Trivial Pursuit has also sparked many a competition. Watching Mum and Dave compete and jokingly wind each other up in this way would always bring a smile to Grandad’s face. The closeness of his children always brought him great joy.
Grandad shared many interests with both of his children. Of course, football with Dave but there was also golf too – the pair have played many a game together over the years. With Mum, Grandad shared a passion for a Jeffrey Archer novel and a Saturday night prime time TV show. Every Saturday night in Britain’s Got Talent and Strictly Come Dancing season, Grandad would ring mum two to three times a show to provide his review of the performance and let her know who his “favourite” was… usually the comedy act of the line-up.
Grandad enjoyed local football in Shepshed and played an active role in Shepshed Amateur’s administration as secretary as well as taking on the role of linesman. In later years, he continued to support his local teams and watch their matches. Grandad’s love for cricket also continued throughout his life and one of his most treasured places was Shepshed Cricket Club where he used to play and spent most Saturday afternoons in the summer cheering the club on.
As well as sports, Grandad also liked to play card games and was a member of the Old English Gentleman’s pub team competing in the Whist league with Dave, Foz and John, winning the league at least once.
I am sure that many of you know Grandad from some of his very best years which he spent as one half of the double act that was Allan and Stuart of the Queen’s Head in Shepshed. Grandad started out in 1986 until the pub closed in 2002. I was quite young for these glory days, but I have vivid memories of the two of them always, always laughing together.
The Queen’s Head was a very special place to Grandad; he even helped my Dad propose to my Mum there in 1988. Grandad was my Dad’s biggest fan and would often bring people round to our house to show off Dad’s latest classic car. The introduction of my Dad to the family was one for which Grandad was grateful; not everyone is perfect and we can’t all be good at everything – one thing in particular that Grandad struggled with was DIY not for want of trying, though! There were a few faux pas throughout the years, but the one incident that is well remembered by all is when Grandad proudly put up a curtain pole, hung up the curtains and stood back to admire his work. A few hours later, the curtain pole along with the curtains came crashing back down! Dad came to the rescue and all was forgotten until the next incident. Grandad’s toolkit, despite being a good few years old would still be described as “like new” if we were to put it on eBay today.
In 1993, Grandad retired from lecturing at Loughborough College. However, retirement didn’t really suit him. So, after a short break he took up a role at Shepshed Knight as driver number one in 1998 where he stayed until 2013! This was a role that Grandad was immensely proud of and thoroughly enjoyed. Some of Grandad’s most treasured friendships were those that he made at Shepshed Knight. Grandad was a good driver and was always passionate about it; having started out in his dad’s Hillman Husky many years before. If ever there was a debate in the family about which way was “the right way” to get somewhere we would call on Grandad to settle it.
Of course, in later life, Grandad also became a Grandad. First to my older sister, Laura and then to me. Grandad was a title he wore with huge pride, topped only by that of Great Grandad when Martha arrived in December 2021. He was an incredibly fun Grandad, and one that we would always look forward to seeing and spending time with. We greatly benefited from growing up just around the corner and we have always been welcome to wander into Grandma and Grandad’s house and treat it like a second home. We have many longstanding jokes with Grandad that have spanned mine and Laura’s lifetimes (and probably even longer than that). We will carry them on even when they no longer make sense.
Grandad was also a great friend and neighbour. He enjoyed weekly weekend meetups with the Café gang as we know them, and befriended many other regulars from outside the official group. He also had a great fondness for the owners, Peter and Simone. When he finally actually did retire, he would visit Dot, next door but one, each weekday to do the crossword. In more recent years their mutual next-door neighbour and friend Dave, joined them too.
Grandma and Grandad have been fortunate enough to travel to many places over the years, enjoying holidays in England as well as abroad. Ken fondly recalls a trip on which Grandad had nominated himself group photographer, taking many snaps of memories to treasure for life throughout the holiday. It was only on arriving home that Grandad discovered there had not been a film in the camera throughout the entire trip!
In later years Grandma and Grandad took great delight in cruising around the world with Grandad’s siblings and siblings-in-law. Grandad thoroughly enjoyed the food and drink aboard ship as well as the casino nights. Together, Grandma and Grandad have seen many parts of the world visiting Australia, Las Vegas, Florida and much of Europe.
It is a tall order to stand up and speak about the life of the man who always stood up to speak. Grandad thoroughly enjoyed doing speeches and wrote many a poem to perform at various events throughout his years. There was some debate amongst the family when preparing this eulogy whether we should start with his favourite story of Cinderella and her sugly isters… for those of you who are familiar, you will appreciate why we decided against it on this occasion and for those that are not familiar… ask me about it outside of Church walls!
Grandad was an unforgettable man that brought joy to any room that he walked into. He was never without a smile and truly loved life. He was a gentleman with the upmost integrity.
When preparing this eulogy, I had the pleasure of reading through a book of tributes created for him for his 65th birthday by his siblings. I think the most common words that appear in that book are “laughs” and “laughter”; Grandad was a very, very funny man and loved a good joke. The sound of Christmas day is Grandad’s laugh and him starting the charades – he would start with one of the same three every year and it was always a hotly contested race to see who would get the right one first.
Family has always been the most important thing to Grandad; he took huge, huge pride in his family, and loved to tell people that he was one of seven children. He was each of our biggest fans - every single one of us, no matter what our achievements were, no matter how big or small – he applauded them all and always made sure that we knew just how proud he was.
As brother number one he was looked up to and respected. As a husband he was fantastic and hugely loved. As a dad and father-in-law he was a supporter and a best friend. As a Grandad and Great Grandad he was truly adored. As a friend he was cherished.
If you are able, please can I ask you to stand and put your hands together for a life lived to the full and for a truly wonderful man, Allan Morse.
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