"au revoir” Phil Thompson


Yesterday was the funeral of a dear friend of ours. I was asked to say a few words...these are the words.


I first encountered Phil with Hilary one day in the record department of WH Smith & Son in 1974. I was doing Christmas relief work in my gap year before going to university. Hilary was my efficient, pristine manageress; nothing flummoxed her that is until Phil would pay her a surprise visit. It was obvious they were made for each other.


Fast forward the clocks 12 years, November 1986. Ironically, similar age to Sherry today, I had returned home from teaching in Nottingham when my own Dad died, to look after mum. Cleveland Centre lifts – I recognised the voice – low and behold Hilary and Phil, man and wife. We had a quick exchange of news updates – they had two daughters, Sherri and Gemma, and lived in Guisborough. Fast forward 10 months – I was starting a new teaching job in Guisborough – walking out on my first day who should greet me but Hilary – both Sherri and Gemma were pupils in the same school! A few brief words again. A couple of months later Jon and I moved to Guisborough from Redcar – and guess who lived over the road? Yes Thompson clan. There followed 3 happy years of good neighbours and friendship – the laughs, the gin and tonic, the laughs, the meals, the laughs, the new year’s eves the laughs – yes it was a good 3 years.

We moved but kept in touch briefly just catching up on news now and again, but the friendships forged would always be there.

I was honoured to know Phil as a doting boyfriend – to Hilary that is, a loyal husband, a proud father and a good friend.

It is my firm belief, from personal experience and which I hope is the same for Hilary, Sherri and Gemma that when somebody we truly love dies, they do not simply “go away” they do not leave us, they stay with us – in the very marrow of our bones. The joys we shared we will remember, and smile. The words they shared will be written in our hearts. That is how it is for me. My Dad’s words and aspirations stay with me to this day and are now part of my character, I am proud of this, and Hilary, Sherri and Gemma can be proud too.

In life we come across people who leave a mark on us and whose words come back time and again. Phil has been one of those people to me – let me tell you some of the things I always remember –

From Jon Hancock, one of my first head teachers – he taught me how to stand on a chair correctly – to this day I do this – with the back of the chair in front not behind. I don’t remember anything about him telling me advice about teaching, but I do remember the correct way to stand on a chair.

From my mother – I learned that mules are dangerous slippers and you could easily break your neck when wearing them. I have never bought or owned a pair of mules in my life.

From Christine Duck, a school clerk who I worked with for some years I learned that you should always use matching coloured clothes pegs when hanging out the washing – “What would the neighbours think if I did otherwise!” I must admit I don’t use matching pegs, but I think of Christine every time I peg out the washing.

From Phil Jon learned that it was bad luck to re-name a ship – he pointed out this to me a couplke of weeks ago just about we were to board the ferry which incidentally had been renamed!

From Phil I learned that the essence of a good Bolognese sauce was a few dollops of tomato ketchup! Even to this day I think of Phil every time I make a Bolognese sauce and yes I always add tomato ketchup! Next time you make a sauce – think of Phil, you will be surprised how often he will pop up in your thoughts – which are what we want – for us to constantly think of him and the impact he had on each of our lives.

Now we must say "au revoir” – yes French but expecting and knowing to see Phil again.

One of the greatest Naval leaders was Churchill and it is one his quotations I leave you with

"I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter."



Yes Phil – let’s see.