Tuesday, 10 March 2009

One hundred and one

Charlie Styles

Yesterday was the funeral of Charlie Styles and about a hundred people gathered in All Saints Church for the service. The following is taken from the address given by the Revd Alistair Monkhouse during that service.

During his 101 years he lived through twenty prime ministers and five reigning monarchs. He saw twenty-one clergy serve this church. He lived in a time before the first aeroplane flew across the English Channel, before the Titanic set sail on her fateful journey and before the British Empire broke up. He also saw the R101 airship break away from her mooring mast at Pulham and drift away to Belgium where it was recovered.
Charlie was born at Winfarthing on 25th August 1907 and he was the third eldest of six children and the last surviving. As one drives quickly through the villages of Norfolk it is often difficult to realise that a time existed when all the hustle and bustle of this present hectic life did not exist. The countryside was based on agriculture with the gradual change from horsepower to mechanical power. With no television and radio in its early stages of development, each had to make their own entertainment.
Charlie’s father died quite young. His mother, always dressed in black, used to frighten the grandchildren. She was the village person that all the villagers turned to. She looked after all their needs from cradle to grave. Acted as midwife, treating most of their medical needs, caring for young and old and laying out those who had died.
Charlie had a village education at the nearby village of Winfarthing and left school at 14. As agriculture was the only employment on offer he worked on a farm as horseman. There he learnt his skill to plough using heavy horses and to plough a furrow straight and neat.
In the 1920s he was married to Dorothy and enjoyed seventy happy married years of life together. With the ability of earning a little extra money they moved from Winfarthing to Old Buckenham in 1929. They moved into Hargham Road, when the council houses were built in 1931, which was to remain his home for the next seventy-six years. There four children were brought up - Betty, Brian, Jane and Richard.
He was in the Home Guard during the war protecting the village against enemy invasion.
Charlie worked for the Gaymers cider company in Attleborough from 1929 until his retirement in 1971. During this time he worked in every department producing this worldwide known cider. During his last few years he was in charge of the filtration plant and his number of friends increased dramatically as they visited him with their empty jugs to go away with a sample of the filtered brew.
He had probably the best garden in the village for many years. He always had a tremendous display of standard roses. Passers by would always stop to look at his wonderful handiwork. It was always totally weed less and immaculate - no weed dared to grow. His rows of vegetables were like lines of soldiers at the Trooping of Colour. He was known at times to go out into the garden at night with a light so that he could complete the scheduled digging. He kept up his gardening until he was 97 years old. A wonderful achievement. And he re-roofed his shed when he was 87!
He was able to make or mend virtually anything. He was equally well skilled in wood or metal. He was also a very good inventor and made many things in his well equipped shed. His forte was rat traps of which he made many.
He loved his dogs which he had after his retirement. He would walk miles with them. He could always be seen walking on the Green at all times of the day.
Until he had to move to the care home in October last year he was the village's oldest resident. Thanks to his great friend Billy Large and Pat he was able to stay in his own home, where he wanted to be, beyond his 101st birthday.
Another Charlie trademark was his smelly old pipe. He smoked it from age 15 until he went into the home aged 101. He had a wicked sense of humour and often played tricks on his friends and family. He had a stuffed ferret which he used many times in his trickery.
He was probably one of the few people in this neighbourhood who flew on Concord. A day trip to the Bay of Biscay and back. Not many people can say they have travelled from horsepower to supersonic in their life. Holidays with the kids were taken at Great Yarmouth in a static caravan and later he enjoyed holidays in Tenerife and especially Norway.
He was a charmer who liked everyone, was never stressed out and was a character of the village who will be deeply missed by his family and the village. He did not want any fuss and when he reached one hundred years of age he did not want any celebrations. Although receiving congratulations from the Queen he considered it just a normal day. He is recorded as saying when I go ‘I don’t want anyone ‘snotting or slavering’ over me.
A truly wonderful genuine "old Norfolk boy".

No comments: