Sunday, March 16, 2014

Herry's Archive Index

Patrick Lawford 1914-2002
Annette Lawford 1911-1998
Family History
Lawford Family History
Pugh Evans Family History
Pugh Evans Family History - the Lovesgrove Line
The Powell Edwards Line
Lawford Ancestors
The Drapers' Livery Company
Edward Lawford 1787 - 1864
Edward Acland Lawford and his Descendants
HF Lawford 1851 - 1925
Maternal Grandparents
Sir Arundel Arundel 1843 - 1922
Col AJ Pugh 1871 - 1923
Marian 'Nina' Lady Herbert 1874 - 1967
Paternal Grandparents
John Lawford 1811 - 1875
Capt VA Lawford 1871 - 1959
Pugh Cousins
Brig-General Lewis Pugh Evans 1887 - 1962
Maj-General Lewis Pugh 1907 - 1981
Ruth Stevens Howard 1910-2010
Capt Humphrey Drummond of Megginch 1922 - 2009
Dr Griffith Pugh 1909 - 1994
Valentine Lawford 1911-1991
Luxmoore History
Fairfax Luxmoore
Herberts See also Sir Alfred Herbert
Sir Alfred Herbert 1866 - 1957
Nina Lady Herbert 1874 - 1967
Dunley 1917-1957
Wadwick House
Alfred Herbert Ltd
Lady Herbert's Homes and Garden, Coventry
Lady Herbert's Memorial at Litchfield
Sir Alfred Herbert on Shooting
Sir Alfred Herbert on Fishing
Sir Alfred Herbert's Memorial Service in the Cathedral 1957
The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry
The Church of St James the Less, Litchfield

Patrick Lawford's Farming Career
Headbourne Worthy 1934-1938
Litchfield 1938-1946
Danegate 1946 - 1950
Stocks Farm 1950 - 1970
The Shooting Book
Stocks Farm 1970 - 2002

My Parents' Friends
Friends 1950-1970
Friends 1970 -1980s
Friends 1990s - present
Sally Macpherson 1940 - 2012
Richard Shaw 1940 - 2103
Nick Duke 1945 - 2013
Venky Venkiteswaran 1941 - 2013

Early Memories of Home Life
A Short History of Tractors in Hampshire
Schools 1949-1967
St Ronan's 1953 - 1958
Winchester College 1959- 1964
Engleberg Winter 1963
Early Social Life 1950-1970
Early Encounters with France
Early Experiences of Banking
The Pubs of our Youth
The Cars of Our Youth
Herry's European Tour 1967
What Did We Wear?
Careers in the 60s
10 Shouldham St 1967-1993
Thomas Miller 1967-2006
Herry's Wedding to Prue Watson 1971
Watson Family
Harvestgate Farm 1971-1982
Ramatuelle and the South of France
Friends 1970 -1980s
24 Edna St 1993 - 1998
Futatsumori Family
Cap Ferrat and Les Azuriales
The Orangery 1998 - present
Swanage and the Dorset Coast
The Family in Sydney
Christmas in Sydney 2006
The Church of St James the Less, Litchfield
New Year in Ireland and London 2008/9
The Family at Christmas in Australia 2011
The Family in New York July 2012
The Archives and the Internet
The Family at Christmas in Australia 2013

Winchester College Society 50 Years On Dinner

School, Chapel and Chantry Cloisters
The Winchester College Society held a 50 years-on dinner in School on 15th March 2014. In fact it was for the leavers in the 1963, 1964 and 1965 years and about seventy people attended. The Warden-Elect, Charles Sinclair and David Fellowes presided and I replied for the old boys.

Sixes played in Meads
We watched Sixes being being played in the afternoon (OTH v Commoners) and attended Compline in the Chapel before dinner.

Compline in chapel

The Dinner

For more photos from the day, click the heading
Warden-Elect, Gentleman,

What a pleasure to be back in these hallowed halls again, and this time amongst people who are no longer trying to turn you into a muddy pulp on the football field. But to get my first inconsequential point in early, the irony of the name ’Winkies’ rather wears off after a while? Can we not find another name for it? I suggest something like ‘Posts’ or even possibly ‘The Hot Game’....

It’s very good to see such a good turn-out of old friends here, though recognizing some of them has been a problem – and I’m sure that’s mutual, but as we approach our 70th years, we should hold to the old prayer: ‘God give me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do - and the eyesight to know the difference’. Actually, I ran into very few timesome Widmerpools in my time here, but am reminded of the story of the two men who had hated each other at school and ran into each other again 40 years later on the platform at Waterloo Station. One had become an admiral and the other a rather portly bishop and both were in full fig. Seeing the admiral, the bishop called out: ‘Tell me, station-master, what time does this train get into Southampton?’  To which the admiral replied: “Madam, in your condition, you shouldn’t even be travelling.’

Now if I have anything remotely serious to say about the school tonight, it is about character.  I’ve always believed strongly in the old idea that ‘The purpose of education is character’ - and it was interesting to see its history examined in a recent edition of The Trusty Servant. The concept of course comes from Plato’s ‘Republic’, which brings it somewhat closer to home, that having been part of the life’s work of the headmaster in our time, Desmond Lee, though he is perhaps better known to this audience for his pretty daughter, Polly! Though I believe good character to be substantially inherited and imbued from our parents, it must also derive from our schooling – particularly from the fundamental moral character of the school and the qualities it instills in its pupils. And I think that the school in our day did instill a decent moral character – and I’m sure still does. I won’t attempt to define good character tonight, but surely the quality of not dipping one’s hand into pots of other people’s money ranks high. I’m sure that no OWs have been involved in the current FOREX and LIBOR scandals – and even past excesses such as baby syndicates’ at Lloyd’s. All such ‘opportunities’ must be passed up with lofty distain. And even don’t get me started on the moral corruption of American-style bonuses. In our day all you expected was a ‘well done’ from your senior partner, and to be offered a monetary bonus might well have been taken as an insult. Bonuses were something offered to the builder to get him to finish one’s house on time.

But of course, it’s too easy to be righteous about other people’s character and morality. I am reminded of the two bishops having a drink together at the Athenaeum and discussing modern morals. One says to the other, ‘I never slept with my wife before I married her, did you?’ to which the other replied, ‘I really can’t remember old boy. Remind me, what was her maiden name?’

Now, I think we can all agree that it helps develop your character to face some adversity in life, but leaving your prep-school, where you were probably top dog, and being surrounded by larger, stronger, faster and cleverer people than yourself was undoubtedly a ‘good thing’. You also learned to your chagrin that those who were especially bright were more often than not bloody good athletes as well. So any childish notions of fairness got trampled on pretty quickly too. I wasn’t especially good at the principal sports, being small for my age until about 16, and so coxed eights on that narrow ditch the Itchen Navigation, but I became quite good at tolling, and was taught a valuable character-building lesson in the year that I was fancied to win the senior steeplechase – I think the same year that the great Nick Ward-Jackson enlivened the sport by completing half the course on a fine grey. Anyway, I was cantering home and acknowledging the roars of the crowd, when Simon Beloe, who had trailed me all round, pounded up and overtook me on the finish line. I will only say that we are friends to this day, so I must have learned something, even if when I speak his name it is usually in the same sentence as the word ‘swine’.

Of course you go on learning further character-building lessons throughout life. We must now all be grandfathers, and learn much humility from our grandchildren. I particularly like the story of the little boy who asked his grandfather if he would make a noise like a frog. ‘Why?’ asked his grandfather.  “Because’, the little boy replied, ‘Mummy and Daddy say that when you croak, we can get a new car’.   

That brings me rather too neatly to the Goddard Legacy Society, the relatively painless way in which we can all ensure that as wide a number of future generations as possible can have their characters developed by this marvelous school, and I join the Warden-Elect in urging us to take advantage of it before we croak.

I now invite you all to rise and drink the toast ‘Stet Res Wiccamica’.

Herry Lawford (G. 1959-1964)     


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The Family at Christmas in Australia 2013

The family - with the exception of Ayako and Kei who stayed in London - came together again for Christmas at Prue's in Mosman and then spent a week in a house on the Gold Coast, as in 2011.

Nathan and Rebecca Siemsgluess, Charles 'Boodle' Lawford. Thomas Siemsgluess. Edward Lawford and Jarrett Costi
Seated: Prue Siemsgluess, Charlotte, Marijke, Zoe and Milly Lawford. Photo by Herry
The family on the Gold Coast with their nanny Laura from their early years
in Australia

Left to right: Rebecca, Nathan, Thomas, Prue, Charles (Boodle / Barley), Edward, Zoe, Milly, Marijke, Charlotte

Link to Family Christmas in Australia 2011

S. Venkiteswaran 1941 - 2013

Venky in Stockbridge May 2013

My dear friend 'Venky' Venkiteswaran died on 21st December 2013 following several years of increasing ill health. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges at Rishikesh by his sons Kumar and Anand on 23rd December and prayer meetings have been being held before his funeral on 1st January.

Venky was an exceptional man; a brilliant advocate who passed early though university and law school and argued his first case before the Supreme Court when he was only 21. Most of his long career was spent in the Commercial Court where he specialised in shipping matters, founding the Chambers which bear his name and training many of India's leading shipping lawyers and judges.

Venky was the best kind of lawyer - a 'consigliere' - who was sought out as much for his worldly counsel as for his legal skills. He acted for many of India's shipowners, transport operators, agents, and port owners and was frequently called upon to advise the Government and the Director-General of Shipping as well as the Indian Register. Venky also headed Pandi Correspondents, set up at the request of three P&I Clubs to advise their Indian and foreign shipowners, and much of his time was spent in dealing with their more complex cases. He maintained exceptionally strong links with the Clubs in London as well as the insurance market. In 2004 his services to the shipping community were acknowledged when he was presented with the Varuna Award. He also acted for the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, and Indian Pilots Guild and defended their pilots in several notable crash investigations. He was even retained by the Indian Wrestlers Association! He served on the boards of the National Stock Exchange, SICIC and Gujarat Adani Port and other commercial organisations.

Venky and me in London May 2009
I first met Venky in 1972 and maintained a close relationship with him and his family - his wife Lakshmi, his sons and their wives Hema and Ranjini and his grandchildren - ever since. We visited several places in India and Europe together and while travelling often enjoyed his fine cooking skills. He attended the weddings of two of my children in Australia and he and Kumar even attended church with me in Litchfield. Fortunately he was well enough in May to visit Stockbridge with some of the family and in July I visited him in Mumbai as one of those helping him gain accession of the Indian Maritime Law organisation which he had founded to membership of the CMI.

Venky was a great friend to many and an exceptionally loving father and grandfather. His death at only only 73 leaves a great void and great sadness.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nick Duke 1945 - 2013

Nick in his Irish tweed cap and jacket. His tweed cap was placed in the church at his Memorial Service

My dear old friend Nick Duke died on 29th January 2013 after suffering for years from MS and other health problems. A memorial service was held for him at St Peter' Church, Bishops Waltham on 19th February attended by over 200 family and friends. This is his Eulogy.

                                                               Nick Duke

Thomas James Nicholas Duke – ‘Nick’ – was born at home in Fisher’s Pond to Tom and Ann Duke on 26th June 1945, following his sisters Jenny and Georgie. Tom was then working in the family milling business that had been started by his father James Duke in 1895 when he bought the Abbey Mill at Bishop’s Waltham on one of the Nine Great Ponds which once provided fish for the Bishop’s Palace.

Hope House, Church Lane, Bishops Waltham
Nick’s grandparents lived at Hope House, the beautiful Georgian house on the lane leading to this church, but retired to Worthing, while Tom and Ann – and the children - moved to Curdridge Croft in 1946, and lived there throughout Nick’s childhood. The estate next door was bought by the Tufnells soon afterwards and Wynne Tufnell actually lived at Curdridge Croft for two years while his parents were abroad, resulting in Nick sometimes referring to Wynne as his ‘elder brother’.  Wynne himself must indeed have felt like one as in later life, he says that whenever he met Nick on a racecourse, Nick would touch him for a fiver

Nick and Wynne Tufnell
Nick followed Wynne to Lysses, the local pre-prep school in Fareham, and then to Twyford, where he became a useful cricketer and tennis player and took up the trumpet – an instrument that he was prone to whip out at parties until quite recently.  As a teenager he also began – as we all did in those days – an immensely happy round of parties and dances and spending a great deal of time in each other’s houses. Charlie Skipwith says that it was regarded as a poor winter holiday if one wasn’t out at some party or other at least every other night. It was probably around that time that Trevor Trigg, a regular visitor to the Duke house, tells of Georgie getting fed up with her younger brother and locking him in the drinks cupboard before chasing Trevor round the sofa. Trevor says that he was too young to realize that the object of the game was for him to stop running! And when they eventually let Nick out, they found that he had been at his mother’s gin!

Nick went on to Charterhouse, where his closest friend was Andrew Ward, later his best man at his wedding to Jay Jay, and a good friend to Nick for the rest of his life. Nick wasn’t a particularly outstanding student, but these were the days when one’s sporting and social achievements counted for more than academic prizes.  In fact I don’t think that A levels were even graded then. Nick studied modern languages, played the trumpet in the school band and cricket and tennis in school teams and greatly enjoyed his time there. Andrew’s younger brother Toby was his fag, and Andrew made Nick godfather to his own son James, so he can’t have made Toby’s life too awful. Nick always said that if he had one, he would send a son to Charterhouse.

Curdridge Croft

Nick was always in great demand at the parties and dances such as the Hunt Balls – and indeed the Dukes gave marvelous parties themselves, helped by their housekeeper ‘Pad’ (Mrs Padwick), who looked after them for many years. Friends like Giles Rowsell recall dancing at Curdridge Croft until the small hours in a marquee so large that it appeared to be two-storied! Parties often included really quite innocent games of sardines, and I well remember one such party at the Smalley’s when all the lights were out and we were hiding all over the place when a huge figure loomed in the doorway and demanded to know where Nick was. It was his father Tom, coming to collect him; and the party broke up pretty quickly after that!   
And of course girls did in time begin to play an increasing part in Nick’s life. In those days teenagers really didn’t pair off until quite late; we enjoyed – as Annie Ommaney (now Spawton) put it – ‘rushing around in a heap’ too much. But Nick was definitely something of a magnet for girls and I can well remember some who shall remain nameless coming up and asking me to introduce them to him.  Nick and I never had exactly the same taste in girls, in which I count myself fortunate, as I would almost certainly have lost out! Those who Nick went out with included all the most attractive and interesting of the time, including Janet Stokes, Sally Farmiloe, Sarah Keen (known to us all as ‘Weemus’), Kristine Holmquist, the legendary ‘Hovis’(Vivien Holt), Rosie Bryans and Nicky Boyle. And of course he later married, in 1975, Jay Jay Syms, the most attractive of all the girls in his orbit. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Herry and Nick at Sally Farmiloe's Coming Out Party. Girl unrecognised now!
Nick, Charlie Skipwith and I were in the 60’s the self-styled ‘Three Musketeers’, and for one famous party – Sally Farmiloe’s 18th Coming Out party – we dressed appropriately in costumes from Nathan’s.  Fortunately Sally even then had an eye to publicity, and had hired Tom Hustler to take the photos, so some good ones exist with Nick looking every inch a D’Artagnan.

Sally Farmiloe's Coming out party. Herry had changed out of fancy dress and is standing on the left with Penny Hitchcock talking to Charlie Skipwith (back to camera and Sally. Nick is half hidden behind a chap pulling up his trousers! Photo by Tom Hustler.

In our spare time, we met at The White Horse in Droxford, co-incidentally only a few yards from Stedham Lodge which became Nick and Jay Jay’s home some twenty years later, and right next door to Charlie Skipwith’s home, Studwell Lodge. Charlie drank the local brew, Nick preferred Haig and I drank what is now the most dangerous drink of all, coke. It was perhaps indicative of our low level of drinking in those days that the pub also played host to another group of regular drinkers known as ‘The Quarterdeck’, which included Charlie’s father, and at that time no one ever came to grief in the ever - sportier cars that we acquired; our skills perhaps being honed on all-night games of Scalectrix that we played on the race-track set up in Charlie’s squash court. Or more to the point, the car treasure hunts, when the clues were invariably a pub name and the real object of the game was not actually to make it to the finish!

Roundstone Harbour
The Dukes had a house in Ireland – The Fort at Roundstone on the coast of Connemara – that they visited regularly, usually with friends. Andrew Ward remembers going across with Nick when they were both only 17 and having a marvelous time fishing and shooting woodcock at Ballynahinch.  Charlie Skipwith also remembers staying there and being at a ‘lock-in’ at Vaughan’s Bar in the small hours where the local policeman was leading the singing when they were ‘raided’ by the local Garda from Galway armed with the only breathalyser in the district. Everyone hid behind the furniture and when the Garda entered they gave a cursory look around, winked at the landlord and wished him a happy Easter before departing. Nick loved the Irish way of life and was in his element there, and he wore Irish tweed jackets and a multicoloured tweed flat cap for the rest of his life.

When Nick left school, his father, intending him of course to join James Duke & Son, sent him to work on one of the largest local farms, that of Tom Parker, whose main farm happened to border ours under Old Winchester Hill. In fact Tom Parker’s farms probably bordered most people’s farms in that part of Hampshire! In any event, John Parker recalls that Nick wasn’t an ordinary pupil, there to work as a prelude to going farming, but a rather to get a close up view of farming as a business so that he could relate to farmers when he joined his father. But he does remember - and so do I – that he was made to cover a huge new cowshed at Little West End with slurry so that it would blend more quickly into the countryside!

He was also sent on a number of courses; one, a business leadership course at Newcastle University, set up by the Kellogg Foundation, he attended part time over a period of three years, driving up for two weeks at a time with Giles Rowsell in his Triumph Stag and attending week-long events in Brussels and London. Giles remembers Nick as being very bright and focused and clearly loving the business environment.  In fact at that time the two of them quickly became leading lights at the Farmers’ Club, starting the Under 30s section when Nick was only 24, and then joining the main committee where they reduced the average age by twenty years at a stroke! Nick often stayed with me on his visits to the Farmers’ Club, and it became our habit to go out early to find the best breakfast in London. I think our favourite was the Carlton Tower! But Nick loved business, and I well remember him being at dinner with my parents and a friend of theirs, Dennis Bulman, who was at the time managing director of Texaco, and the two of them having a long business conversation well into the small hours. Dennis Bulman later told my father that he found Nick most interesting and impressive.   

Nick and Tom Duke
Nick spent a few months working in Leith, which he hated, and he was also sent to run one of their businesses Chipping Norton for a couple of years. It might have been their revolutionary ‘Evenlode’ business, one of the first complete dry dog foods and for a while very successful, and which might have made Duke’s fortune all over again, had not the mighty Mars brought out a competing version, and the firm was slow to put the feed into garden centers and the like. Chipping Norton wasn’t far from Moreton-in-the-Marsh where my cousin Mike Lawford lived training to become a farm manager, and they saw quite a lot of each other there and on runs up to London; in fact Nick gave up his flat in Chipping Norton and lived in the week with Mike’s parents until he returned to Hampshire.  He was later to be best man at Mike and Penny’s wedding when they were living in Hampshire and Mike was working for Neil Fairey.

Nick of course loved cars, as we all did. His father had Aston Martins and his great uncle had raced at Brooklands.  Nick also had the resources of the firm’s garage with a mechanic, Stan, who understood not just lorries, of which the firm had a great many, but also the desire of young men to get the maximum out of whatever they drove. His first car was a very meaty Ford Anglia into which Stan dropped a hot 1500cc engine. Then came an MGB GT, a Triumph Stag, which was always overheating, a Tickford Capri and a Scimitar. In the days of the Capri, he and Ian Hay, who had The Rod Box in Winchester and a Cooper S, used to meet for a bit of a burn-up on the Winchester by-pass, the idea being to reach the ‘Shawford narrows’ before the other. His cars were nominally works cars, insured for anyone to drive - and we did. We were even sometimes lent Tom’s Aston Martin, though I’m not sure if he actually knew. I remember taking the DB5 up to London. Incredible to think of that degree of licence today. Nick did have one or two accidents, one on the dangerous crossroads which also nearly claimed Nicky Boyle’s mother, and another when he went ‘all agricultural’ near Hartley Whitney trying to avoid an on-coming car. He also managed to overturn my commuter car, an ancient Austin A30, trying to do a handbrake turn at the end of the farm lane at Harvestgate, but otherwise we all escaped lightly.

Nick as best man at Herry's wedding to Prue in Sydney in 1971
Nick was never happier than when telling and hearing a good joke and Ian Hay’s rendition of ‘The Dumb Flautist’ would reduce him to tears. Nick was my best man and accompanied me to Sydney for my wedding to Prue in 1971, and he was totally in his element there. Not only were Charlie Skipwith and his wife Lucie working in Melbourne, but his cousin Frances - who had married Arthur Johnson a year or so earlier – was able to put him up in Hunter’s Hill. Every night there seemed to be a party, and at all the parties there were new jokes – like the famous ‘Martin Place’ joke - that reduced the company to tears. And Prue’s brother-in-law Peter Crittle, a barrister who was later president of the Australian Rugby Union, and who is probably the best story-teller in the southern hemisphere, gave a speech at my wedding which reduced the entire company to helpless laughter. Forever afterwards, the jokes themselves didn’t need to be told; to the end of Nick’s days punch lines such as ‘You’s a-going to die…’ and ‘Why don’t you? He’s not a dangerous dog’ would crease him up. And, speaking of dogs, Nick’s love of a good line lives on in the name of his English setter, Cranston, which comes from a 1960’s advertisement for Blue Nun drawn by John Glashan – where the squire is fishing on his lake and his butler is standing beside him with the distinctive bottle and a glass on a silver salver. ‘I’ve just brought you a glass of Blue Nun, sir’. ‘Good thinking, Cranston. Just hold it there while I land this killer pike!’ 

Nick with a salmon
Nick too loved fishing, and in addition to Ireland, he fished in Hampshire, often with Ian Hay. They used to get up early and go down to a beat just north of Eastleigh, and usually returned with three or four good-sized salmon, which we ate at dinner parties. Those were the days! His shooting was less successful. Andrew Ward remembers inviting him to shoot grouse on the glorious 12th on the Big Moor outside Sheffield. They started walking at ten and completed sweep after sweep of the heather without so much as seeing a bird. Six hours later and exhausted, a solitary grouse took flight in front of Nick, which he missed with both barrels!

Nick was also a good athlete and apart from cricket, he excelled at tennis which we played endlessly, particularly at weekends, on the courts of friends like Johnny Cooke, Nicky Boyle, Belin and Will Martin, Sally and David Wilson-Young and our own. He was also a useful squash player, competing on the ladder that Charlie Skipwith maintained in his squash court at Studwell.

Nick's stag party in June 1975. Will Martin, Ian hay, Nick and Charlie Skipwith below, Mike Lawford and Andrew Ward. Photo by Herry
Nick’s marriage to Jay Jay in 1975 was a golden June day on which all their friends gathered and the world seemed immutably good. Before the wedding, Nick and Jay Jay had been on holiday to the house in Ireland – on the condition that Nick’s mother Ann accompanied them as chaperone! There was a particularly memorable stag party at Charlie and Lucie Skipwith’s restaurant in Botley, ‘Cobbetts’ for which photos exist showing the company hanging off the war memorial in the High St the small hours in advanced states of inebriation. They moved into a house in Church Lane, Curdridge and the following year Cordelia was born, for whom I was honoured to be a godfather, followed by Felicity in 1978, the year (and the day) they moved to Stedham House in Droxford, where Iona was born in 1982.  They also acquired the first of their English setters, Coon, followed later in the 1980’s, by Luke. Giles Rowsell’s daughter told her parents that he and Jay Jay ‘were the most glamorous couple she had ever seen’. And to complete the picture, his father gave them the Aston DB5 which they drove for several years.

Felicity, Iona and Cordelia
Nick was now managing James Duke & Son, employing about 250 people, and he and Jay Jay travelled quite a bit on business to Royal Shows and Game Fairs here and to farm conferences in Italy, Portugal and Spain. They also attended the Horticultural Trades Association meetings – one in Italy on which they went on a fabulous garden tour.  But their own family holidays were taken mainly at Jay Jay’s family’s house in Cornwall, or on the Isle of Wight, and Nick would come only at weekends, citing the pressure of work. It is perhaps indicative that many people remembered Nick in those days as always wearing a suit. Nick and Jay Jay parted in the early 90’s but remained on good terms and Nick continued to see a lot of his children, ‘The Dukettes’ (so named by Tim Boycott who often who used to stay with the family at Stedham) of whom he was very proud, and he delighted in the weddings of Cordelia to Mike Burgess in 2004 and Felicity to Abe Gibbs in 2011 as well as in his lovely granddaughters, Mia, Izzy and Mollie, who he visited in New Zealand in 2007 and who teased him by calling him ‘Grandpanic’. 

Nick on Athassel Abbey winning the 1993 Newmarket Town Plate
In around 1992, Nick was diagnosed as suffering from MS, and as a means of combating the disease he took up riding, which he’d learned in his youth but never much enjoyed. He put himself on a punishing regime by, for instance, riding a bicycle without a saddle, and so fit did he become that in 1993 he famously entered and won the Newmarket Town Plate, the oldest and longest flat race in Britain. In fact, aged 48, he won by ten lengths from of a field of 28 horses!

Nick, Cordelia, Kristine, Felicity and Iona at the Newmarket Town Plate
Nick also rekindled his relationship with Kristine Holmquist (now Yankowsky) in 1993 and visited her for some weeks in California and she also came over the England and travelled with him in France. There was even talk of marriage, but it never materialized. Kristine however kept in touch with Nick, and when he was very ill in April 2011, flew over to see him in hospital, and she’s flown over again to be here today.

Nick and Ann at North Dene
Nick lived the last years of his life at North Dene, Swanmore, the house bought for his mother Ann who lived there, helped by his sister Jenny, until her death in 2008. In the last two years he was looked after by full-time carers – notably Phillip Leboa, who assisted him at Felicity’s wedding - Joey, who is also here today, and Derek.  Phillip describes Nick as being like a father to him. His care required a great deal of organization and coordination, mainly by Felicity, but he was of course visited constantly by Felicity and Iona; Cordelia and the grandchildren coming over from New Zealand when they could, which he loved. And of course Cranston was his constant companion.

Nick and Cranston with Cordelia, Mia and Izzy with Mike and Phillip at North Dene
Nick was never happier in his latter years than when recalling old stories and of course jokes, for which he had a wonderful memory. Ireland in particular had a powerful fascination for him and it was sad that we were never able to take him back there. It’s at least possible that one of the reasons he loved it so much was that his father relaxed there and was happy and amusing, instead of maintaining the rather stern demeanor he adopted with Nick at home. But his love of the old days and the influence of his father did combine to give him some fairly reactionary views; I used to tell him that talking to him was sometimes like listening to the Old Testament, and it was generally pointless arguing with him.

Martin's Summer Lunch 1994

Nick was a charismatic figure, and as Trevor Trigg puts it, for most of the time had a ‘happy cheerfulness’ about him. Fun and interesting, he was blessed with good looks, a fine intellect, and sporting and athletic ability as well as a general love of life.  He made many friends – both male and female - and retained them, and although his illness made him necessarily less and less able to socialise, he never complained and stuck doggedly to the conceit that he was ‘fine’ almost to the very end. Even a few weeks ago, he would come out with family and friends, helped by Phillip, to his favourite pub - the Hampshire Bowman - to the Thomas Lord at West Meon and to Stockbridge, and be happy reminiscing about the old days.

I can’t close without, on behalf of Nick’s family, thanking the local community for their great kindness and support. To Cranston’s several walkers of various ages, to the owners and staff in the village shop, who were very supportive, to all those in Swanmore and Bishops Waltham who were thoughtful and helpful in a variety of ways, everything you did was greatly appreciated.  


Herry Lawford
19th February 2013

Nick was best man to Andrew Ward, Ian Hay, Herry Lawford and Mike Lawford
He was also godfather to Naomi Skipwith, Radha Lawford, Dominic Lawford, Camilla Edwards

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