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Kent, England

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Alfred William Jim Collins  

1926 - 2009

The obituary I wrote to read at my father’s funeral

Alfred William Collins, or Jim as he was known, was born on the 15th of September 1926 on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent and died,
in Devon, on 28th January 2009.

Dad was the youngest of five, having two brothers and two sisters.

Life was hard in the Collins household in the early days and his mother used to take in washing to supplement the family income.

Once he was old enough it became his turn to carry out the regular Saturday morning job of delivering the laundry back to the customers using a handcart. The nearest village, where most of the customers lived, was about two miles away, and as luck would have it up hill all the way. After collecting the payment he would then have to call in to the local butcher to buy a rib of beef, which was the meat for the week. Vegetables were normally home grown.

Dad's first real trial of life was when he contracted TB in his early teens, but he battled his way through this and became the fastest runner and highest jumper in his school, thereby becoming the school champion.

Next came the war years. By this time he had left school and was working on a local farm. He was too young to be conscripted, but he managed to talk his way in to the Home Guard, which we all know as Dads Army. From the stories that he told me it was just like the TV programme.

Whilst working on the farm he also learnt to drive the farm truck; this was before the days when you had to take a driving test, and he never did. As far as I am aware he had a clean licence right to the end. This is about 65 years which is quite an achievement. He also took part in a number of ploughing competitions.

He worked on a number of farms around Kent, where he was an accomplished shepherd stockman, and we always lived in a tied cottage on the farm. In the Early 70’s he had the chance to leave the farming life and the tied cottage and buy his own house, which he did in Sandwich, Kent. He always had the ability to work with his hands, and he now took the opportunity to work for himself as a jobbing builder, which he carried on doing until he retired; even then he still liked to keep busy.

Two of his passions were Gardening and Golf. I remember back in the late 50’s when he used to show flowers and vegetables at the local village show, and for a number of years he won the cup for the most first places in the show; this passion continued up to the end. The other passion was Golf, both as a player and spectator. In 1981, when the Open came to Sandwich, he was awarded one of the maintenance contracts on the course, so he had unlimited access for the whole tournament.

He chose to retire to Devon, which is a lovely part of the country, living firstly in Dunkerswell, then finally in Honiton. He continued to live life to the full until his illness.

I know that he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Obituary written by Graham Collins - eldest son of four of his children (3 sons & one daughter)