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For Lee – a Tribute
Posted on Monday, November 26th, 2012
The Echo notices last Saturday, proudly shouted: LEE, MBE. The honour could not be more deserved. In another meaning of the abbreviation, E stands for EFFORT. Nothing was too much effort for Lee. Whether in helping family, friends, work colleagues or the huge network of companions collected in a lifelong commitment to Scouting, NOTHING was ever too much trouble. Even if you hadn’t asked for help, he would often be there. He put his heart and soul into everything.
Lee’s first years were spent in Portswood, before moving to Maybush to become an MBE for the first time – MAYBUSH BOY ETERNAL. He grew up playing cowboys and indians on the gravel roads of Maybush, learning his high morals by emulating Roy Rogers, the TV hero of the time (and from St Peter’s Church of course!) I’ll paraphrase some appropriate words from Roy Roger’s biography which apply equally well to Lee:
“He was the epitome of what a person should be. He was the picture of honesty and integrity. He gave us standards to live by that helped teach us the difference between right and wrong. His willingness to stand up for the things he believed in, inspired us. His concern for the less fortunate helped mould the characters of others. He was always decent and humble.”
Lee had two enduring interests:
Firstly TRAINS, through our Dad’s work on the Railways. Family holidays with us, and later on with Sue, Ian, Kate and David, would always involve a train ride somewhere.
Also, perhaps most significantly, THE SEA, through both grandparents and other family members, working on ships.
After we moved to Shirley, he would still park his bike at our Grandad’s house in Winchester Road on his way to Shirley Warren School and regularly get a dose of old sea dogs tales, as well as building a close relationship with the family parrot, which I envied.
I shared a bedroom with Lee. He was seven years older than me, so I was that pesky little brother, who didn’t deserve the kindness that never ever waned. He would say: “What’s our nipper doing today Mum?” At which point I knew it was time to get up and be ready to go somewhere.
Among those memories are the back seat rides to Netley on the Velocette motorbike, to spend days sailing on Southampton Water. He liked to cut across the stern of the outgoing ocean liners, to sail through the wash. We did get a bit too close to the United States on one occasion.
Another time, it was a ride to the beach at Millbrook Point (Yes, a beach) We built a fire for a steam pipe to bend wood for mending a dinghy. Perhaps this was a clue to his next MBE – MARINE BUILDER EXEMPLAR.
Lee started work at 16 with Harland and Wolf and successfully served his shipwrights apprenticeship there. I remember him reading a letter from work on the first new year’s eve after he and Sue were married. It read: “HAPPY NEW YEAR, you are being made redundant”. He joined the casual workforce at Vosper Thorneycrofts ship repair yard and only a month later he was offered a permanent job at their shipyard in Woolston.
This is where those Roy Rogers morals came to the fore again. Lee volunteered and was elected, as shop steward in the union and negotiated member’s interests for many years. Anyone new, would be greeted with “Where’s your union card then nipper?”
His all round talent was recognised by management. He joined as Foreman and rose to Team Leader, where his task was to ensure both shipbuilding excellence and his team’s wellbeing.
Lee was known for using the term “AS WELL AS” when allocating work, ( I recognise that from the 13th) and whistling when walking the yard, so that no-one was ever caught skiving. It was a human touch that earned him respect for being fair.
Lee was recognised as the man to get the job done. He became the leading practitioner in lamination technology, working when needed in other places such as Birkenhead, Newcastle, Scotland, Rigs in the North Sea and then routinely in Portchester and Portsmouth.
Lee’s lifelong friend since school, through scouts and then work colleague, Charles, has brought a chart for people to see all the ships Lee has worked on.
Lee always had an eye for the opportunity of an advantage for the scouts, whether it was using a works open day demonstration to get a canoe made, or just getting some unofficial sponsorship through use of the photocopier. Sorry Lee!
It is ironic, sad and even cruel, that after so many years serving on the Shipbuilding Industries Pension Committee and becoming its chair, often dealing with cases similar how his own turned out to be, Lee was NOT destined to enjoy the benefit of his OWN pension and a well earned retirement.
Thankfully, he and Sue had many memorable holidays in recent years to exotic places around the world and a champagne balloon flight with Charles and Cynthia to mark their four 60th Birthdays.
Lee was a devoted husband, family man and a loyal friend to many. He always managed to pack more into a week than most people, seamlessly dovetailing work, home life and Scouting.
Scouting became the family passion and gave rise to his much loved expression: TEAM BUDD, now being carried on by his children. His doorstep greeting would always be “Hi Team”.
As Lee clocks off from this life, whether family, friends or colleagues, we all have a continuing part to play in Lee’s vision.
In 1998 Lee made his family proud when awarded a proper MBE for services to the Defence Industry. I thought it should have been MBE and Bar (if there is such a thing) because when I rang HIM to find out about it, it was 10 minutes before he corrected me for thinking that it had been given to him for his Scouting service.
Before I finish with a poem by Elizabeth Clark Hardy, Lee was lots of MBEs to me:
He was My Bestman Eloquent at our wedding;
He was My Brother Extraordinaire;
He was My Best Example;
He was My Big ‘Ero.
Sometimes at eve when the tide is low,
And voices murmur in the water flow.
When night swoops down to embrace the day
I shall slip my moorings and sail away,
Over the ebbing tide of the unknown sea
To the unknown shores that call to me.
Some loving souls that my heart held dear
In silent sorrow will shed a tear.
But I shall peacefully furl my sail
In a haven sheltered from storm and gale
And greet my friends who have sailed before,
Over the unknown sea, to the unknown shore.
Afternote: It is estimated that around 400 people attended the service, more of whom were standing than seated in the packed church. The substantial guard of honour of uniformed leaders also included eight smartly dressed 13th Sea Scouts and a Cub Scout, all in full uniform, who managed to get permission to miss school for the afternoon.