On August 29th last year my family and I were honoured to attend the opening of the Hazlehurst Centre. This was a project Dad was involved in towards the end of his life, which was very graciously named in his memory. I was asked to say a few words about what Dad was like outside of work, and it seems like an appropriate day to print these words below. On the right is a photo of me speaking, looking for all the world like a Two-Bit Politician. All I need is a red rosette.
This is what I said:
First of all, there are a few people I would like to thank. Thank you to West Yorkshire Police for suggesting that this centre be named after my Dad. I would also like to thank all the members of Dad’s team in HR who were very welcoming when I came to see them in February. Thanks are finally due to Mike Potts and the communications team we have been liaising with at NHS Calderdale: Eleanor, Sandra and Jane, for giving us the opportunity to attend this opening and for allowing me the opportunity to speak. I stand before you today a very proud son. I am very proud of my Dad today, especially in the knowledge that he was involved in projects of such undoubted benefit as this centre.
First of all, let me give a brief biography of my Dad. He was born in Worksop on March 6th, 1959; the second child of four to Betty and Derrick. Whilst at secondary school at Portland he founded the school’s hockey team, which only lost one game in the three seasons in which he captained them. On leaving school he read Business Studies at the Polytechnic of South Wales and studied for a Personnel qualification at Doncaster, before beginning work for the NHS in 1984. Dad was working for the Health Service in Manchester when he met Sue, my Mum, who both settled in Saddleworth and married in 1988.
I have been asked to speak about what Dad was like as a person outside of work. Dad always tried to keep his home life and work life separate, so talked very little about work to us. But I do remember when I was most proud of Dad at work. He once asked to see my copy of Private Eye, which as a precocious teenager I had subscribed to at the time. When I asked Dad why he wanted to borrow the magazine, he replied that there was a story in it about decisions which a committee had made that he was a part of. Now although I did not know much about the incident in question, for me to know that Dad was responsible for decisions important enough to be ridiculed in the pages of Private Eye was a very proud moment indeed.
Outside of work, Dad was a keen runner until an ankle injury forced him to retire in 1996. After that he exercised by taking power walks around the hills of Saddleworth. Mum and Dad combined their love of walking and their love of the coast by taking holidays to coastal walks in Cornwall and Anglesey over the last few years. They also partnered each other at Oakfield and Huddersfield bridge clubs, and together they won teams competitions at both clubs last season.
I would like to finish by talking about what Dad was like as a person. I am sure that the personality traits he showed at home would also have been obvious to those who came into contact with him at work.
The first of these was Dad’s impish sense of humour. This is perhaps best shown by what he was looking forward to about me and Liam growing up. He made this remark to Mum when Liam and I were a lot more immature and babyish than we are now – so it was made about two or three years ago! Dad said that one of the things he was looking forward to most was coming to our houses when we were older, so he could be sick on our floors for a change. I do have to say that the fact Dad never realised his ambition to vomit in my living room is something that I have decidedly mixed regrets about.
The second quality was his terrible handwriting. This is something that I definitely have in common with Dad, especially his very idiosyncratic way of signing his name. This has led to him receiving letters from companies addressed to a “Mr Hut” or my personal favourite, “Mr Z. Kazlemhurst”.
I think that perhaps what all of us will remember Dad for was his kind and generous nature. He was always generous with his time: he would ferry me all over the country to various chess tournaments, and spend hours building Lego pirate ships for me and Liam despite knowing that we would end up destroying them in minutes. I know from the many messages of condolence we received that Dad was equally generous with his time at work, helping work colleagues.
What I find most comforting is that Dad’s spirit will live on. His name shall live on in this marvellous centre. It is to be hoped his example at work can be continued by the students which he mentored at NHS Calderdale. And his example shall live on with me. If I can paraphrase a song by one of Dad’s favourite artists, Martin Simpson, he taught me how to love a song, the joys of reading, of watching cricket, and the art of conversation. These are the greatest gifts that I have known, and I use them every day.
Thank you very much.