Thursday, 16 September 2021

Philip Cook — April 25, 1930 to December 16, 2015

PHILIP GEORGE WILLIAM COOK was born in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on April 25, 1930.

PHILIP GEORGE WILLIAM COOK was born in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on April 25, 1930.

The family moved first to Lane End and soon afterwards, at the beginning of the war, to Hambleden, where his parents lived for the rest of their lives.

Philip had a happy childhood with his elder sister Kathleen and little brother John.

They were different times. He recalled that if he was caned for his behaviour at school and went home to complain to his parents, his father would smack him again to teach him a lesson!

Philip earned pocket money performing little tasks set by his father, such as finding and killing queen wasps.

Still a child, his fighting consisted of regular pitched battles with the Cockney evacuees — good training for a boxing contest he entered when he was about 12, when he won a medal of which he was very proud.

Philip left school at 14 and started working as a plumber.

In 1948 he started his National Service in the Royal Engineers. After training at Aldershot, he was sent to Trieste, which he much enjoyed.

On return to England he was stationed at a camp near Stratford-upon-Avon, where he made many friends and played football for the local team.

He played several matches against German prisoners-of-war, a few of whom had played for the German national team. Philip was unable to remember the results but admitted that he had been busy in goal.

After being demobbed, he played football for Henley Town and was their first-choice goalkeeper for some years.

He was a lifelong supporter of Chelsea Football Club. Philip’s other great sporting interest was rowing. He joined Henley Rowing Club in the early Fifties and rowed for them for several years. He remained a member for the rest of his life.

He enjoyed attending regattas, particularly Henley Royal Regatta, where he became a member of the stewards’ enclosure in 1979.

He introduced his family to the Regatta and many of his extended family have fond memories of days by the river watching the rowing.

In 1948, when England hosted the Olympics, the rowing took place at Henley but, unfortunately, it started on the day Philip left the area to begin National Service.

As a result, he was always determined to live at least until 2012 so that he could at last see live Olympic rowing, which he did as he and Joyce had two very happy days at Dorney Lake.

Philip’s devotion to rowing was best shown in 1966, when he left his wife, baby son and daughter watching the World Cup final on TV while he made his way to the river for the Henley Town & Visitors’ Regatta.

In later years he became a member of Leander Club, taking full advantage of the facilities there.

Philip was a country boy at heart and loved all aspects of nature. He was very observant. If you went for a walk with him he would point out plants, animals and birds that you would otherwise have missed.

He started work at Walden’s the builders, where he met his wife, Joyce. He made his first move when he bumped into Joyce on Boxing Day 1950. Fuelled by Brakspear’s, he invited her for a drink at the nearest pub, which happened to be a bit of a dive. She declined that kind offer but eventually they had their first date on April 22, 1951.

Philip and Joyce were married in September 1954 and moved into a flat in Vicarage Road, Henley. They then bought some land in Hamilton Avenue where he designed and built a house which they moved into in November 1959.

Philip went to evening classes, first at Reading and then at Luton Technical Colleges (now both universities), where he gained several qualifications, including membership of the Institute of Builders.

By this time he was working for the Government as a clerk of works and he was posted to Aden, where he and Joyce spent two years in the sun.

When they came back their first daughter Debbie was born. Andy and Joanne followed during the next five years.

They later moved to Earley, where they settled down happily and became active members of St Peter’s Church. Philip was a sidesman for a number of years and became the first treasurer of the Friends of St Peter’s.

Philip was a practical man who did not shout about his accomplishments but helped people in practical ways. For example, on one occasion when the family were camping one of the neighbouring tents caught fire and, while other people stood around shouting, he ran into the tent and carried out full suitcases and other items.

He quickly identified problems, looked for solutions and acted on them.

Philip and Joyce always enjoyed walking, particularly in the Lake District, which they first visited on their honeymoon in 1954 and only stopped in 2012 when failing health meant they had to walk shorter distances. They walked the Thames Path in the  Nineties.

The couple were married for 61 years and they were fortunate enough to have 20 or so years of retirement together, which they enjoyed to the full.

Philip was a devoted family man. He loved his children and created a stable, loving home.

In recent years he took great delight in his grandchildren, watching Lily dancing, Emma trampolining and Henry and Charlie playing cricket and football as well as numerous school productions.

Philip was a kind, brave and good-humoured man. In the last few years, as he became more frail, he did not complain or become bad-tempered. Although he was frustrated by his physical limitations, he focused on what he could still do.

Philip spent his last day with Joyce, watching Prime Minister’s Questions, joining in the Christmas preparations and enjoying a glass of wine in the evening.

He leaves a close family who loved him and will miss him more than words can say.

The funeral took place at St Peter’s Church, Earley, on Thursday last week.

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