Fred Watson Overend 1927-2008Thu, 11 Dec 2008
Last night my Dad died.
I know this isn’t the appropriate place to write, and I know it’s an abuse of my ability to do so, but I need to tell the world what it has lost.
Fred was my Dad. He was a constant in my life. I thought he’d live forever.
We had our ups and downs, although they are decades past, but he always loved me and I always loved him. He was Freddie Frog when we were little (which he didn’t like!) and ‘him‘ when I was a recalcitrant teenager. For many years he was “Inspector Fred, said” to my friends, due to his regularly expressed opinions in the local papers when he was Inspector Fred Overend at Brentwood Police Station (where the regular cub reporter asking the questions was a very young Richard Madeley, later of Richard and Judy fame).
Dad at 80 - complete with rotten hat!
He was always firm but fair, but under that sometimes authoritarian skin lay the biggest heart you could ever know. He rescued me and friends from many a scrape, without comment or admonition when we had dug a hole for ourselves through the impetuosity of youth. In later years he loved to start a sentence with “Do you remember when…” every time the Shadow Chief Secretary To the Treasury, Philip Hammond, popped up on his television screen, and Dad recounted what we’d done in our teens (Phil was a close friend at school).
He knew right from wrong, and instilled that in us. But he always had a mind of his own. I remember some thirty-odd years ago he recovered the Queen’s personal bible that had been stolen from Sandringham. He found out where it was and did a deal with the man who could access it. He had a blind eye turned to some petty crimes of no significance in return for the Bible. What he did broke the rules. His superiors where not amused. But Dad was unmoved. He did what he knew was right, even if he broke rules to do it. That is possibly the greatest gift he gave me – always question; always be true to yourself.
Dad had a zest for life. At 80 he demolished his garden sheds and built a new patio. Drove from Essex to Lancashire to visit his sister on her 90th birthday. We had a wonderful family holiday in a massively over-the-top house in Javea. He loved every minute. He enjoyed his computer and his camera club; visiting his family and enjoying a good meal. He loved his life. And he loved my Mum – she was his world. Probably the last properly coherent words he said, the day before he died, and in response to Mum asking “Do you know who I am?”, were “Yes, you’re my wonderful wife, and I love you”. Fit and healthy (with the odd hiccup) for 80 years. More in love with Mum with every year that passed. Children and grandchildren who adored him. He was blessed. But not as blessed as we were to have had him.
But he got ill last year and despite a huge fight, and a 6 month respite, it was finally one battle too far. His passing has left a great big Dad-shaped hole in my world which will never be filled. He made the world a better place, not just for us, his family, but for the countless people whose lives he touched, professionally and personally.
Fred was my Dad. Fred was my friend. Fred was my hero.
By Cars UK