Derek Allison RIP (1931 - 2011)

Derek Allison RIP (1931 - 2011)

When my father was given his diagnosis of terminal cancer of pancreas on October 17th 2011 this changed my whole world, which then only had two things that mattered, my father and my family.

Sadly that list has now shrunk to just my family. My father died on 20th November, just 34 days after his diagnosis was confirmed. He died at home with my mother at his side holding one of his hands and I was holding the other. There was no pain at the end, he just stopped breathing and slipped away. Six weeks previously he and I had been on a roof top re-pointing ridge tiles, now he is gone. I miss him already and know I will ask my self every day “What would my dad do ?” Don't ever miss an opportunity to tell someone what they mean to you. Don't let precious time just slip past.

My dad, Derek, has been married to my mum Aileen (nee Outhwaite) for 57 years. They had been sweethearts since she was 16 and he was 17. Many of my friends have remarked that they have never met a more devoted couple. It would be wrong to say they never had a cross word, a family story records one falling out before they were married that lasted two years and which, according to my father, was reconciled when my mother “came crawling back” My mother obviously has a different recollection of how they got back together.

Family was everything to my dad. In addition to me they also had a second son, my younger brother David (49), who is a Director of the Austrian National Oil Company and currently lives in Budapest. My dad was always extremely proud of David’s achievements but at the same time sad that his career took him so far away from home. My parents also have five grandchildren. Their two youngest grandsons, Charlie and John, are still at boarding school. Two granddaughters, Rosemary and Ria, are both at University and their eldest grandson, Edward, is an engineering cadet with P&O Cruise lines, something that my father was especially proud of considering his own national service was spent at sea as a Merchant Navy Engineering Officer. One of my few regrets is that my dad was not being able to see Edward march in this year's rememberance parade wearing his Merchant Navy Uniform. Sadly my dad was just too tired by then to make the trip round to the sea front.

My dad was born in 1931 and attended the Hartlepool Boys Technical Day School. Like many a Hartlepool lad before him he served his time in the drawing office at British Steel before joining the Merchant Navy as an Engineering Officer with the Empire Line. While in the Merchant Navy he served on troopships for both the Suez conflict and the Korean War. My dad's involvement with the sea did not end when he left the Merchant Navy as he was a member of Tees Sailing Club for many years and was Commodore of the club in the 1980's. He was an accomplished table tennis player in his youth and a keen cyclist. In 1951 he and a group of friends even cycled to London and back to see the Festival of Britain. He hadn't played competitive table tennis for many years but he still went for a ride on his bike nearly every day.

After completing his national service Derek retuned to Hartlepool and worked in Port Clarence at British Steel (Chemicals) where he was the Works Engineer until his retirement in 1995. After retiring my dad took my mother on various holidays to visit many of the ports he had called at during his time in the Merchant Navy. This included far east destinations such as Honk Kong and Shanghai. My parents loved Hong Kong and also made two trips to China to see the Forbidden City, the great Wall and the Terracotta Army (or the Territorial Army as my mother called it!). My dad's engineering background however was never far behind and the Three Rivers Hydro Electric Scheme in China was something that impressed him tremendously.

My dad never lost his inquiring mind or his love of a challenge. He and my mother took up skiing when they were in their 50's and he became an accomplished downhill skier before an accident on the piste, where a novice skier collided with him, left him with a damaged knee and ended his involvement with the sport. At 80 years of age he was “the man who can” for several people in Hartlepool when it came to computer problems. I would regularly come home and find my PC had been upgraded without my knowledge since my “hard drive partition was not the latest version” or some other reason that was gobbledygook to me but not to my dad.

I could go on and on. As a Rotarian he visited Rumania to work on a children's hospital, the conditions under which these children lived, and died, was one of the few things I ever knew to make my dad cry. Until 2007 my dad was Chairman of the Hartlepool Headland Parish Council and a Hartlepool Borough Councillor, an Independent member, he had no time for party politics in local government, he thought local councillors should represent their communities and not play party political games. He applied his considerable carpentry skills to building more than one sailing dingy in the basement at home, he could dig a trench with a JCB back actor and drive a bulldozer. He and I worked together to build my current house and last year our family project was the installation of a ground source heat pump, which is currently saving me over £2,000 a year in heating oil bills. However, I think one of the things he would be most proud off are a bunch of flowers that arrived for my mother after his death. They are from friends of his granddaughter, Rosemary. The flowers made me cry but they were a fantastic tribute. Several of these young people are coming to his funeral on Friday because they loved him like a granddad of their own.

RIP Derek Allison 1931 - 2011

13 Replies

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  • So very very sorry for you and your family, it is such a nasty cancer, our mum aged 68 has also got terminal pancreatic cancer too, tomorrow I will be running with my sister at "the Santa Fun Run" in mAnchester, to raise funds for Pancreatic Awareness, I will be thinking of you too !!!! Were always here on the forum, if you ever need someone to talk to, as were all in the same boat, my thoughts are with you and family !

    Lots of love, Adele Bosman xxxxxx

  • Thanks for the message. It is a nasty cancer and in many cases brutally quick. Good luck in the Santa Run. Hopefully next year my wife, Sandra and our son and daughter will be dojng the 3 peaks challenge with me (Ben Nevis, Sca Fell and Snowdon) which I also hope to do to raise some money. Sandra will be driving the car and providing support, I'll be climbing as high as I can and hopefuuly the kids will be making it all the way to the three peaks!

  • What a heartfelt story , am so sorrt you did'nt get more time with your dad , I am a sufferer myself and it is tearing my family up , i lost my brother also to this terrible cancer,. Keep strong and good luck in your walk , my niece and my daughters partner are running a half marathon next year for PC , this is the worst cancer ever and more research and funding to do it is needed badly , much love to you and your family , your dad will be watching over you x x

  • Thank you for your comment and my thoughts are with you and your family. I feel terribly sad that it has taken a personal tragedy to make me aware of this cancer. Like most people I donate to one or two charities but pancreatic cancer never even made it onto my radar. Its too late for my dad but I am determined to do something for current and future suffers. I’m sure we can beat this as the human spirit is one that never seems to admit defeat in the long run.

  • I am sorry to hear your story, my sister is fighting this terrible cancer, and my brother passed away with it almost three years ago, our family know, only to well that this is a silent killer, only diagnosed when it is to late for treatment, we need more awarness and more funding for research. My thoughts are with you and your family

  • Thank you

  • I am so very sorry about your loss. My husband was diagnosed in August. We are headed to a surgeon tommorow to see if surgery is possible...My husband just turned 47 today.

  • Thank you. I hope your husband gets encouraging news from the surgeons.

  • I'm so sorry to hear that you lost your dad to this dreadful cancer.......but wow, your dad sounds like he packed an awful lot into his life which, hopefully, leaves you with lots of lovely memories. I lost my husband, aged just 48, to pc in December 2009 and he too packed lots into his life which we often talk about and which has left us with lots of memories to look back on. Thinking of you and your family Maggie

  • Thank you for the comment Maggie, it makes me appreciate my dad's life even more when I hear of people like your husband who were taken so tragically young by this terrible cancer. My dad and I worked together for over 20 years (when he retired I took him on as an odd job man for my business, of course after a couple of years everyone assumed I worked for him!) and it is making it doubly hard now as I go on a job and think "last time I was here my dad was with me" Less than 2 months ago he and I were on a roof re-pointing ridge tiles, no safety harnesses, no risk assessment, just he and I on a roof together. I will always have these memories and I treasure them all.

  • I have just read this wonderful tribute to your dad, an amazing man. I am so sorry for your loss. You have so many wonderful memories that you will treasure forever more. I too lost my husband aged 56 to this terrible cancer last yr, he left me and our 4 children with wonderful memories that we shall treasure forever more, just like your dad has given you. Our daughter ran the London Marathon this year and raised a substantial amount of money to go to the research of pc, because it is the silent cancer, as they call it and more needs to be done. We were so proud of her. My thoughts are with you and your family. Duchess.

  • I am sure your husband is looking down at you all and is also very proud of her. My daughter gave the eulogy for her grandad at his funeral and I was so proud of her. When he knew he was dying he told Rosie she had to do it because he didn't want me sobbing and making a scene. He was right, I would have just stood there crying. After the funeral the house was full of young people who came to pay their respects as he was "Grandad Derek" to them all. Not a bad tribute I thought. I am sure my dad will always be with me and my family, in the same way your husband lives in the memories of you and your family.

  • I'm so sorry for your loss.. We lost my father on the 12th December 2011 and he was only diagnosed on the 16th November. I am now keeping myself busy by trying to fundraise. My love to you and your family in such a difficult time x