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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Autumn 2021 issue

John Symonds, 1930 - 2020

He went to school on the Isle of Wight where he was better at some subjects than others. His favourite subject was Physics, however his Art report read ‘position in class 29, number in class 28’.

Len was taught to play the flute and fife by his Grandfather and played in the Boys Brigade Fife and Drum Band.

Len started work for Post Office Telephones on the Isle of Wight in 1943 as a ‘youth in training’ (what we call an apprentice nowadays). Working on the island meant he often had to cover more things than he would have on the main land, so he knew more than some of the managers about the layout of telephone exchanges.

Len's Post Office Telephones training courses were often in Stone in Staffordshire and there he would meet up with his childhood friend Roy, often staying with Roy’s family and going to watch Wolverhampton Wanderers play football.

Roy is hopefully following this service online – welcome Roy and everyone who's online.

Len met his wife Patricia in 1951 at a Rover and Ranger dance, they got engaged in 1952 and were married in 1954 at All Saints Church.

Len and Pat moved into their house ‘Letricia’ in Pelhurst Road in Ryde in 1954. There, they hosted foreign language students from Sweden, Germany and France who came to the Isle of Wight to improve their English until 1958.

Their son David was born in 1959 and daughter Rose in 1961.

When Len was promoted, the family moved to Birch Close, Cowplain in 1963. Len had a further promotion before retiring in 1984.

His daughter Rose married Alan in 1984 and son David married Sue in 1987. They gave him and Pat 4 grandchildren; Martin, Rachel, Peter and Daniel. Len loved having his grandchildren around, reading to them - he knew the names of all the Thomas the Tank Engine trains – and playing games including Duplo and Lego with them. He became an expert Duplo train bridge builder, trying to see how high he could build the bridges only for them to be knocked down again and again.

Christmas was a favourite time of year, when younger he used to decorate his parents’ house, and this love of Christmas continued throughout his life. On Xmas day, he would always wear a seasonal tie, and board games were played with the family.

Len was the last member of his generation in a large family, many of who are with us here today. The family all enjoyed major milestone birthdays or anniversaries when they met up for a meal.

For his 90th birthday, they collated photos for a memory book (borrowing them one photo or box at a time from his house so he didn’t notice they were missing). Having looked through the book, he gleefully said ‘you forgot one’, then promptly pulled it out from an extremely well hidden place (Pat’s sewing box). This ‘one that got away’ is on the front cover of the order of service today, showing Len in his first formal suit, ready to go dancing, a pastime which he loved.

Len was involved with so many groups and committees, Pat wondered when he would ever be home.

Len was with the Scout Association for a long time. He joined the 7th Ryde Scouts in 1949, was Cub leader with the 1st St Binstead pack until 1963, when he became Cub master of the 1st Stakes Hill Group in Waterlooville. In 1967, he became the District Information Officer for Waterlooville Scouts, and later District Secretary. He was proud to have been one of the first 3 people in the Waterlooville district to be awarded the Silver Acorn in 1978.

He was on the local Ratepayers committee and also its Chairman.

Len was a School Governor for Hart Plain Junior School for over 20 years, mostly as Chairman.

In 1978 he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace and served as a magistrate until he was 70.

Gardening was a big passion for Len, he loved growing things, including tomatoes, runners beans, cucumbers, as well as flowers for the front garden. All the roses in his garden had to be perfumed ones, he didn’t much like ones that didn’t ‘sniff’.

A regular Church goer, Len was in the Church Choir in Ryde, and later here at St George’s. Len was well known for growing flowers and vegetable plants to sell outside on the wall at the Church here. People would often ask for his advice, one saying ‘can I speak to the old boy please? he knows what he is talking about’.

Len took up bowls in his retirement at Waterlooville Bowling Club, enjoying friendly matches, later becoming President of the Bowling club in 1999.

Len played Crib in the Horndean Crib League from when it started. His favourite saying was ‘you can’t beat the cards’.

Len and Pat often took coach holidays all over England, their favourite place was Torquay. They also visited Rose and family in Germany many times in the years that they lived over there.

After Pat passed away in 2012, Len started going to Age Concern for lunches, bingo and whist.

Len was well travelled in his later years, going on many Cruise holidays. He went up to the North Cape, over to St Petersburg in Russia, around the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. He particularly enjoyed going to Rome to see St Peter’s Basilica and the Cistine Chapel. He had to have a strawberry ice cream in every port he visited if he could. His favourite cruise destination was the Norwegian Fjords, where the back cover picture was taken.

Covid lockdown was a challenging time for such a sociable and outgoing person. During this time, Len had what we called his ‘5 a day’ telephone calls, Rose and Alan often couldn’t get hold of him, probably because he was talking to one of you!

Len, Rose and Alan played games every Friday afternoon, he always gave as good as he got, on word games he often came up with archaic words. If challenged, he would say to check in the ‘big book’ (the Oxford English Dictionary), and invariably he was right.

Len’s first Great Grandson Freddie Leonard Bone was born in July 2020. Len was delighted to be told he was named after him on a family video call shortly after Freddie was born. Now nearly one, Len managed to meet Freddie on several occasions, to see him on video calls and always got a weekly update on all of Freddie’s pictures from Rose and Alan.

Len's second Great Grandson Henry was born 18th June 2021, at the time Len was travelling into Rowans Hospice. He was trying to hold on long enough to see Henry. He managed - via a video call. Len's family put pictures and cards around his room and he would proudly point out the pictures of Henry to the nurses. His favourite saying about his Great Grandsons was ‘he is a lovely little lad’.

So, however you knew Len, as a friend or relation, a work colleague, a whist, bingo, bowls or crib player, through Scouts, as a school governor, church goer, even as a Magistrate (hopefully only for the right and not the wrong reasons of course!) I'm sure, like me, you'll think of a bright, cheerful caring man. A man who earned the respect and affection of us all.

His family thank you all for coming, or joining us, to help celebrate Len’s life today. He will be greatly missed.

Richard Spurgeon

The service in Celebration for the life of Len Palmer took place at St George’s Church on Thursday 15th July.

My name is Richard and for about 30 years I've been part of the furniture here at St George's.

One of the things I do here is to murder the tenor part while the rest of our talented and musical choir sing beautifully during services. For several years Len and I were a double act in the church choir - he usually got the right notes and …. I followed unreliably.

For several years my Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings were brightened up by Len's good humour, his genuine interest in everyone's well being and a certain glint in his eye.

One Sunday a few years ago, on roughly this spot, Len asked me out of the blue, but in his usual cheery way if I would read his eulogy when the time came. I was surprised but agreed happily.

It is a great honour to read this for Len and for his family......

Where to start? Len was involved in so many things over his lifetime it is hard to do justice to them all…

Leonard Alfred Palmer was born in Arthur Street in Ryde on the Isle of Wight to parents Edward and Grace, younger brother to Edward (known as Ted) and sister Dorothy.

One of Len's first memories was of climbing up onto the arm of his Dad’s Windsor chair, grabbing handfuls of pickles and jam from the dresser and mixing them together on the shelf.