Joe Hughes reflects and brings us David's eulogy...
It is difficult to be sad about David Jenkins death for he lived to such a great age -93 - and clearly enjoyed most of his life. His passing was sudden and, even though we knew he was well into his 90's, we were - nevertheless - shocked. I knew David when he was a senior manager and, of course, eventually as Divisional Nursing Officer.
My wife Maura was a close friend of his late second wife Kathleen and so our paths did occasionally cross socially. In the community that was and continues to be St Francis we also grew to know his lovely family
Kathleen, Bridget Jones, Eileen Sheil and my wife Maura were good friends and professional colleagues when Kathleen was alive. The ladies regularly got together for so called 'coffee mornings' where they would all meet up in their respective homes on an alternating basis. These 'coffee mornings' were anything but and could be better described as 'days away for dinner, chat and with lashings of wine thrown in!' I think they might have had the occasional coffee also!! When Kathleen died, the three ladies continued to visit David on a regular basis and they all looked forward to and throughly enjoyed their time together. Lucky old David!
Professionally I did enjoy a particular encounter with him when I was the staff nurse on Worth Ward. That particular year a group of us had undertaken two April fool jokes. One was to write a letter - on hospital headed paper - to Larry O'Dea calling him to task for excessive use of the ward phone on the male sanatorium. Larry worked a lot privately and used the phone for much of his diary planning. In those days we could dial in a '9' and get onto a private line. So we wrote to Larry remonstrating with him and reminding him that ' the practice had better cease forthwith or further serious action would be undertaken'. A second letter was written to Frances Brant, then a sister on Peacehaven ward. This was a wind-up inviting her to the Training School to give a series of lectures on the care of the long-stay ambulant patient. Both carried forged signatures. Mike Cotterill and myself had the satisfaction of seeing Sister Brant open the envelope and as she clutched it to her chest she reddened with embarassment. I was the scribe for both letters.
Well, I thought nothing more of it until one morning David phoned down to the ward and asked me up. I made my way into his office to be met with a stern query from him in that unmistakeable Welsh accent. 'It has come to my attention that you have been involved in writing contentious letters to certain members of staff. Is it true?' I immediately answered that I knew nothing of the typewritten letters. He replied, 'I never said they were typed, my boy!' Quickly I answered,' Well, Mr Jenkins, I take it you are speaking of the letters in front of you on the desk!'. His stern attitude relented a little as he said, 'Well, I'm telling you my boy, if I thought for one moment that you had anything to do with these letters , you'd be in very serious trouble - do you understand? I gulped and answered, 'Yes Mr Jenkins'. Looking at me solemnly he finished with, 'That'll be all - go back to your ward!'
Someone had spilled the beans on me but that's life!
I asked Terry Bate, David's son in law (wife of Teresa) for a copy of David's eulogy and he has kindly sent me this with permission to publish it for which I'm very grateful. Thank you to Terry and Teresa for helping us to keep David's memory alive and to remind us all of what a great person he was.
Terry's Eulogy :
'Last year my wife Teresa, David's daughter, had the idea of buying her father a 'Dear Dad' book. The purpose of these books is that the recipient writes down all their key memories in them, from childhood, through growing up, and in to adulthood.. They are a great way of ensuring that the small details that might otherwise become confused or blurred over time, are not lost.
When Teresa asked me to say a few words at this service I asked her for the completed copy of her 'Dear Dad' book so that I would be accurate in what I might say about David's past.
David was born in Llanelly ('Clanetly') a small town in South Wales in 1916. By today's standards he had a hard childhood, although it was probably normal for the time. The washing was done by hand, there was no electricity, there was no heating when a fire wasn't burning, and what few toys he had, were hand made. My own two boys were shocked to learn that television didn't exist when their Grandad was a child!
David started his first job when he was 9 years old, working lunchtimes and evenings during the week and from early morning to midnight on Saturdays. Most of this time was spent delivering goods for a local Butchers and Grocers shop. For this hard work and long hours he received the princely sum of three shillings, or fifteen pence in today's money, every week. As David got older he changed jobs many times : working in a Fish and Chip shop, in a scrap yard, at a vets, in a quarry, in a steel works - to mention just a few. Eventually, having travelled to Haywards Heath, he became a Student Nurse. This was the start of a career that was to last 42 years and included time in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War 2, where he finished as a Staff Sergeant having served in such countries as North Africa and Italy. When he eventually finished his nursing career, he was the 'Divisional Nursing Officer' for what was then the St Francis Hospital here in Haywards Heath.
As a child he said he didn't really have any spare time for leisure, but as a man he enjoyed rugby (of course- he was Welsh) cricket and hockey.
In his later years David's greatest hobby was his garden - all who have seen it are put to shame by the care and attention he spent keeping it in such pristine condition.
I have to say that to some, David could appear stern. Certainly when I was first courting his only daughter nearly twenty years ago, he was a little daunting. But once you got to know him it became clear that beneath the tough facade he was a caring man, he had a good sense of humour, and certainly you always knew exactly where you stood with him. David clearly doted on his family and although the passing of his wife Kathleen was an awful shock to everyone, he managed to get through this low period in his life whilst still showing love for all those around him. David had superb physical and mental health throughout his life. Towards the end he had some difficulty when walking too far and he had had hearing problems for some years - although I suspect that sometimes he just adjusted his hearing aids, either up or down, to the level that he wanted to hear. But considering he was 93 years old , he was in pretty good shape. In summary, David was a kind, ordinary, hard working and caring man; and certainly an example to all who knew him - he will be sorely missed by many.
I'm going to finish with a short poem but before I read it, I would like to offer what I hope is at least a crumb of comfort to David's children and grandchildren. My own father died some 17 years ago. My father had a similarly tough childhood, he started working when he was young, he served in the army during World War 2, and eventually he found a job, much as David did, that allowed him to successfully provide for his family. Now, in Januray this year I bought a new car. As with any immature male adult, I bought the best car I could afford and one that had as many accessories as possible. The first few times I drove this car all I could think about was how my Dad would have loved the heated seats, the automatic headlights, the handsfree telephone, and how he would have marvelled at the Satellite Navigation. The reason I mention this, is that as I drove this car, and on many, many occasions in the last 17 years since my father died, I thought of him with a smile, imagining what he would have said, or how he would have reacted, to something I'd done or seen. I'm not traditionally religious but I truly believe that my Dad is still with me. He is in my heart and in my head. Your Dad, your Grandad, David, will stay with you forever. Thoughts of your Dad, your Grandad, will be raw and painful for some time, but over the coming months and years they will become less so. David's legacy is you, a loving family that in times such as this must pull together, giving support to each other and becoming stronger. He was proud of you all, remember him often, remember him with love.
Finally, the poem. It is called 'He is Gone' and was written by a David Harkin.
'You can shed tears that he is gone,
Or you can smile because he lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.
Your heart can be empty because you cannot see him,
Or you can be full of the love that you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him and only that he is gone,
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry, close your mind, be empty, and turn your back,
Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
Thank-you. Terry Bate. '
Thank you Terry. A great piece. Best wishes, fond memories with prayers and thoughts from all of the Friends of St Francis to you and your famillies everywhere.