Nothing can prepare you for a day like today. Losing my Dad has been the hardest thing I have gone through in my life.
My Dad was absolutely everything to me. He was a person who I looked up to and just never wanted to let down.
As you all know he had been through an incredibly tough couple of years with an illness called Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS).
I struggled at first to even pronounce it correctly let alone spell it and I’m a teacher!
When my Dad first informed me of what he had my natural instinct like any concerned family member was to Google it. Certainly not the most sensible thing to do as this always seems to bring out the worst-case scenarios for a patient.
In the early stages of his illness he was under the wonderful care of Dr. Gabriel at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
As time moved on and having had a large number of blood transfusions it became clear the best way forward was for him to have a stem cell transplant.
We are incredibly fortunate living in London to be surrounded by some of the world’s leading centres in the medical profession. One such place was at Hammersmith Hospital.
My Dad now became a patient there under one of the world’s leading experts in this field in Dr. Olavarria.
For anyone who has been through a transplant procedure with someone close to them it is an incredibly tough period as there are all sorts of complications.
Being the eldest of four, my Dad had a great chance of finding a match and he did with one of his brothers, John. It was very tough for John as well as he had to go through all sorts of tests to ensure everything could be carried out correctly. I couldn’t be more thankful to my Uncle for helping my Dad in this way.
So back in March he began the procedure, which meant going through chemotherapy and many other subsequent treatments.
He was in hospital the first time round for about 40 days and everything was looking positive. He was even thinking he could make the last handful of games of the season at QPR.
But given his weak immune system at the time he had to stay mainly at home and rest whilst making daily trips back to Hammersmith Hospital for various tests.
The period back at home certainly gave all of us around my Dad renewed hope and certainly an opportunity to reflect on our life with him.
He was delighted that QPR had stayed up. Holloway had gone, England were progressing well in the World Cup and his beloved cricket had started for the summer.
But as far as he was concerned the main event of the summer was my daughter’s Christening and he was determined to be there. Ever since she was born back in December the relationship that they developed so quickly was incredible.
The love they had for each other was so clear. It was his first Grandchild and just seeing him with her was something so incredible
As he was in hospital all he ever wanted to see or hear was stories about his ‘LG’ as he called her. She had just started weaning when he came out of hospital and nothing made him happier than preparing food for her. He couldn’t wait to get down the club shop at QPR and buy virtually everything for her.
The Christening was a special day and seeing my Dad with his Granddaughter is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
If you ever spoke to my Dad in the last few months he would always down play the severity of his illness and that was him as a person in a nutshell.
His life had always been about helping others and now he needed our help we wanted to do everything we possibly could for him.
His start in life wasn’t the most conventional. He was born two months premature in 1947 in Murree in British India just before the country would split because of partition.
His parents were both in the army and had married during the War in India after my Grandfather had been sent there after being shot by the Japanese in Burma. The nurse that tended to my Grandfather would be my Grandmother.
As the family returned home to England life in the army would continue and my Dad would live in a multitude of places as the family grew in size.
He lived in Germany, the Gold Coast in Africa, Scotland and various places in England as he was joined in the family by his siblings; Vivian, John and Philip who are all here today, two of them now living in the United States.
But home for my Dad was always in his beloved Hammersmith and Fulham. He had been there since the 60s and everything connected to his life was in this borough.
All of you today will have your own special memories of my Dad. Since his passing my Mum and the rest of our family have taken great comfort from hearing what my Dad meant to you.
It was abundantly clear that my Dad was a selfless individual who only ever wanted to help others.
My Dad’s job for most of his life was in the Civil Service working for the Department of Work and Pensions. But it was what he did outside of his normal day-to-day job that for me defines him as the wonderful human being that he was.
He gave his time and energy to so many worthy causes in the borough. He was for well over 20 years, chairman of the largest youth football league in the borough at Lillie Road.
He’d be there every Sunday morning at the crack of dawn getting everything ready for the local kids. It didn’t bother him in the slightest if these kids weren’t the best at football. He just wanted them to be happy.
He was heavily involved in a number of charities and organisations in the borough.
My Dad was also a director of the Credit Union where he had been since 2007. He became involved with this project after becoming an elected board member of a government initiative called the ‘North Fulham New Deal for Communities’.
This was a government initiative to reduce inequality in the area, including addressing the right for residents to have a bank account.
He was for a long time a committee member of the ‘Friends of Norman Park’ and still to this day was the vice-chairman at ‘SOBUS’ in the borough. This was a charity supporting voluntary and community organisations to share intelligence and build effective partnerships with each other across different sectors.
And then there was his beloved Queen’s Park Rangers. My Dad had been supporting them since the 1950s and for him despite living closer to Fulham and that other team in SW6 it was always going to be QPR for him.
My Dad loved QPR and everything the club stands for was him as an individual. Nothing made him happier hearing and reading stories about what QPR were doing in his borough whether it was in a school or in a community project.
He was up until his death the Vice-Chairman of the QPR LSA. Without the LSA we may not have had a team to support and this was something that my Dad felt so strongly about. The LSA is very much a part of our club’s history.
Nothing gave my Dad greater pleasure than every Saturday or Tuesday night travelling to some part of the country to watch our team. He couldn’t care less who we were playing as long as he had his team to support.
Some of his best trips were coach trips to Blackpool, mini-bus trips to Grimsby, train journeys to Plymouth, plane journeys to Ibiza. It didn’t matter what mode of transport he used as long as he made the game.
The earlier he got to a place the better as that allowed him to sample the local ales or proper beer as he called it in whatever town we were playing in.
This didn’t always help him to witness the full 90 minutes when the game started though as you will all know my Dad liked a nap during our games!
Being with him at Wembley is something I will never forget. It was rather fitting that the Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham five or six years ago, recognised in a special ceremony what my Dad had done for the borough in the last 30 odd years.
My Dad was simply the best in my eyes. He was happily married to my Mum for 41 magical years. He won her heart naturally in some pub in Earl’s Court where they first met.
He was a wonderful brother to his siblings whom he loved dearly. Coming from a large extended family he loved nothing more than catching up and hearing what his Aunts, Uncles, Nephews, Nieces and Cousins were always up to.
Throughout this tough time my wife has been incredible and watching the relationship she had developed with my Dad over the years was so special especially sharing stories of the new arrival in the family.
My memories of him I will hold forever. There are just too many to mention, but one story does stick out although for obvious reasons I couldn’t remember it, but knowing my Dad you can see how it happened.
I was born in January ’84 and throughout those early months my Dad balanced being a Dad whilst doing his normal things whilst my Mum was at home. Anyway November came round and my Mum, who was a nurse, had to go back to work after maternity leave.
The day in question was Saturday 17 November and Rangers were away at Arsenal. My Dad had a dilemma…did he stay at home and look after me or would he take me to Highbury?
Well you all know my Dad and there I was 10 months old in his arms in the Old Clock End as Tony Woodcock scored and we lost 1-0. And since then my journey with QPR has continued…cheers Dad!
My Dad had to return to hospital a couple of days after England had finally won a penalty shoot-out and had beaten Colombia.
He had contracted an infection and given his weak immune system his body was fighting hard to overcome it.
We watched the Sweden game together in his room on the Dacie Ward, but you could see he just wasn’t his normal self and from then on his condition started to deteriorate.
He spent a few days in Intensive Care before contracting another infection and this had a snowball effect with other complications in his body.
The stem cells were working, but too much else was happening in his body and sadly he passed away in the arms of my Mum and I in the early hours of Friday 3 August.
From his ward you could see the site of the old White City Stadium as well as the floodlights of Loftus Road. It was rather fitting that his room overlooked the Linford Christie Stadium where QPR may well have their new stadium one day.
He may not be there to see them play in it, but he will be there in spirit and will take great comfort knowing that the club have stayed in his beloved Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
QPR as a club have been outstanding since my Dad’s passing with their support and I can’t thank them enough. They care about their community…very much like my Dad.
My Dad as many of you know loved WWE and I’m going to leave you with a quote from my favourite wrestler of all time, Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart. How he described himself was how I would describe my Dad, “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there will ever be”.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for absolutely everything Dad, I will always love you. You will always be in my heart and I will see you once again one day. RIP Dad x
(As you would expect it was a very large turnout at Mortlake Crematorium last Friday. And representing the Club were; Lee Hoos, Andy Sinton and Andy Evans. How did Dave get through his Eulogy with such composure? We sang ‘Jerusalem’ and at the end of the Service we filed out to Doris Day’s ‘The Black Hills of Dakota’. Later, we all raised a glass in Bill’s memory, on his Manor, at the Hammersmith Club in Rutland Grove. God Bless you Bill – Steve Russell)