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Members beginning with the letter 'E'

Harry Ely, 1923 - 2012

Tribute to Harry Ely - from his funeral

Harry's family are very keen that this service should be a celebrationof his life, because as he said himself only very  recently he had a good life.   And considering he began theatening to 'hand in his dinner plate', at least 30 years ago, to go on and reach the good old age of 88 is indeed a cause for celebration.

Harry's life started at Tidworth, in army quarters, on 27th September 1923., the only son to Albert William Ely and Annie Gertrude Snoad.    Harry had two sisters, one older. Gwen, and a younge sister Margaret with whom Harry remained very close until her death on 2000.   When his father retired from the army after 21 years service, they moved to Selwyn Green in Walton and Harry made Walton his home for the rest of his life.

At the age of 16, Harry, then a plumber's mate, was working on the lead work of some cupolas on a building in Ripley.   At such a vantage point, he was able to have eye-to-eye contact with a German bomber who just offloaded his destructive cargo on whar was then Vickers at Brooklands.   From tha tmoment he was determined to join up.  He trained as a signsl operator, spending a good deal of time in Loughborough and various other places before setting off on a boat to Africa.    He spent his 18th birthday in the desert.

The war had an enormus impact on Harry.   He mixed with 'bods' from all walks of life, and it was durnig this time that he became a staunch atheist, started his love of opera in Italy, of couse, and became interested in philosophy;  he described an evening spent in an army tent in Italy, with 2 QCs among the servicemen, as being like a session in the Houses of Parliament.   It was at this time too when he formed his life-lasting socialist views, and, perhaps most importantly,discovered the value of deep friendships.   He never forgot George who died of TB for instance, and yet he can only have known him for a relatively short time.   Later he had long friendships with Tony Bashford, John Ayling and Hary Bradshaw, to name but a few.    The war years were Harry's formative years. Such a young age, but what a way to get his 'life education'.    With Mary's help, he produced 'Station H' - his wartime memoirs, and Mary has printed copies for anyone who might wish to take ne away with them today.

After the war, when he was finally demobbed, he returned to work as a plumber but later became an insurance agent for the Wesleyan & General.   He was proud that, despite the limitations his lack of formal education presented, he finally became Manager of the Kingston Branch, a source of pride for Harry who realised the limitatons his lack of formal education cost him, but who capitalized on the life education his time in the army had given him.   He resumed his sporting interests too, most notably at Brampton GardenTennis Club in Hersham, where he was captain.   He met Honor, 8 years his junior, a beauty, with an eye-catching forehand, which complimented Harry's backhand as it turned out, and the romance blossomed, with the sound of Harry's Sunbeam motorbike increasingly punctuating the sleepy peacefulnessvof Whiteley Village where Honor worked.   They married in March 1954 and made their home first in a flat in Walton High Street and then to 4 Sassoon Cottages - possibly the second greatest love of Harry's life after Honor and his family.   Harry lived ther until he moved into Sutton Lodge 15 months ago.    

While Honor lovingly raised thier four children, John, Jane, Susan and Mary, Harry provided for them by supplementing his family's needs growing copioius amounts of vegetables on his allotment in Churchfields.  What Honor couldn't do with rhubarb isn't worth mentioning and Harry's shallots have spawned future generations of shallots in many households.   His allotment was a passion which stayed with him even after Honor's sudden passing in 1987.    It provided him with another source of friendship and camaraderie.

Harry always took a back seat to Honor on parenting until she was gone.   He the took up her life's work and has been an endlessly supportive and loving dad, often worrying when his family assured him there was no reason.  His reply was always, 'never tell a worrier not to worry' - one of his signature phrases.    He was ever proud, often grateful, and always interested in what was going on in their lives.  Harry's grandchildren were a source of pleasure to him - Gemma, Scott, Rory, James and Daniel, and though his health was failing, he wa sable to give his great-grand-daughter, Isla, a hug too.

Harry's immediate and extended family is so grateful to have had such a loving and supportive father to them all.      They would like to thank all Harry's friends and acquaintances for enriching his life,   The visitors' book at Sutton Lodge bears testament to the love and friendship Harry inspired.   Apart from the countless visits from his family, regular visitors too were Rosemary, Steve, Ray, Gordon and Brenda, Edie and Loiuse.   His newest friends, the staff at Sutton Lodge, have been amazing, and the family's very special thanks go to them, and especially those of them who are with us today.   Honor once said that Harry was spoiled by women all his life.and that continued to the very end.   At Sutton Lodge he was much loved and wonderfully cared for, and the staff there managed to improve his life, even when he had become ill and needed so much care.   Harry's family wish to thank them not only for the care they gave Harry, but for the care and friendship they extended to them also.

Harry's family 2012

Harry was a contemporary of Shorty Keeble 

Mike Moore 2014