Trevor J Attwood MBE ~ Eulogy by his daughter Catherine
Trevor Attwood, my Dad, was born on 11 March 1950 in Bradford, West Yorkshire. He grew up in austere post-war times, and life was challenging for his mother, Alice, bringing up three children single-handedly. Nevertheless, Dad had nothing but fond memories of his childhood. Running and jumping along the ‘middings’ – which were the rooves of the neighbours’ outhouses, much to their despair; taking a sandwich, a biscuit and a bottle of pop to the main railway junction to spend the day spotting trains and recording them in his notebook; tormenting his older sister Val with mice that he had found in the back yard; and his excitement at being accepted into the Carlton Boys Grammar School. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Dad was telling me about how smart he felt on his first day of school, with his new uniform and his brand new school satchel. Unfortunately, by lunchtime the older boys had commandeered Dad’s new satchel and were using it as their new football.
Upon joining the Grammar school, Dad joined the Bradford Boys Brass Band, and then the Carlton Schools Band. It soon became clear that he had a natural musical talent, with his progress into the Bradford Schools Band, the Yorkshire Schools band, and the National Youth Brass Band.
The director of the Bradford Boys Brass Band recommended that Dad apply to join the Royal Marines Band Service as a musician, and when his band-mate and school-friend Bill Robinson, who had already joined a few months earlier, reported back to him that you could actually get paid for playing your cornet every day, Dad thought that joining the Royal Marines sounded like a marvellous idea. And so, at the tender age of 14, Dad ventured south from Yorkshire, to the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal, to start a long career in the Royal Marines.
Making the transition from proud Yorkshire-boy to proud Yorkshire-man as a Royal Marine in Deal, Dad made many life-long friends, many of whom are here today. He used to talk about nights out with his mates at the Deal Beach Parlour, which he reliably informed me was “the place to be” at the weekend in the 1960s. With these same mates, he frequented several pubs in the town, some of which offered the advantage of having a back door, so that if a Shore Patrol officer entered the pub by the front door, there was a speedy way for the youngsters to escape out the back. Despite these high jinks, Dad’s aptitude for leadership and responsibility was recognised at an early age, with him being awarded the role of Number 1 Diamond of Gloucester House, a form of head prefect in the Music School – a role which he embraced fully.
After completing his training in Deal, Dad was transferred to Plymouth. While stationed in Plymouth, the band conducted a recruiting tour of the Midlands, which included performing a concert at Riland Bedford Secondary School in Sutton Coldfield. One of the female students got chatting with one of the Royal Marines Musicians, Taf Pearce. A conversation took place along the lines of, “My friend likes your friend”. The two friends being spoken about were Alyson and Trevor. And so Alyson and Trevor became penfriends, though Dad readily admitted later on that his primary motivation for this written relationship was that Sutton Coldfield would be a handy stopping-off point on the long drive home from the South Coast to Yorkshire. After a few months of exchanging letters, Dad visited his penfriend for the first time, on his way home on leave to Bradford. However, fate intervened, and his green mini-van broke down at Mum’s parents’ house, meaning that he had to leave it there to be fixed, returning the next weekend to pick it up. After two visits in the space of just one week, Dad and Mum’s friendship blossomed – and Dad realised that Mum’s mother, Jessie, cooked a delicious roast dinner, which he viewed as an added bonus.
Mum and Dad were engaged in 1971 and married in 1972, starting their married life in Plymouth, and then moving on to Portsmouth. In 1975, Dad was transferred back to Deal, a move that, at the time, neither of them were too pleased about. Dad even promised Mum that they “wouldn’t have to be here long, 18 months at the most”. Over the following 40 plus years, not only did Mum and Dad firmly settle in Deal, but so did most of Dad’s family, with his mother and step-father, Alice and Geoffrey, his brother Malcolm, and his sister, Val, all moving to Deal from up north in the years that followed.
Family life in Deal for Trevor and Alyson ensued, with Dad being a devoted husband and, from 1980, a devoted father. As his daughter, I have many happy memories of growing up with Mum and Dad. Many of these memories include bike rides in the countryside in the summer, learning to swim at the Royal Marines pool, learning to map-read on country drives in the winter, Dad teaching me to drive, and many walks along the beach with ice creams – a tradition which we continued when I moved back to Deal last year. I have benefitted from years of Dad’s advice and support, both as a child growing up and as an adult. Dad always had time to listen, to discuss, to advise, even debate at times, especially as our political ideals were somewhat different. He was always there for me, whether I was living here in the UK or overseas, and we spoke most days while I lived away once the internet and iPhones made communicating internationally so much easier. Dad made regular trips to New Zealand to visit me, and he loved his New Zealand adventures – exploring a new part of the country on each visit. In addition to being popular among his own friends, Dad was also popular among my friends – as a child, as a teenager and as an adult. My friends all loved my Dad.
As everyone here knows, Dad was a passionate musician throughout his life. He was a life-long fan of Beethoven, but in more recent years he developed a more contemporary musical taste, enjoying the music of modern talent such as Amy Winehouse and Adele, and even Kylie Minogue – though I’m not convinced that it was only Kylie’s musical talent that he so admired. But one band always featured in his record collection – Abba – whose music he enjoyed simply, he said, because it made him feel happy.
Dad’s approach to life was to always give everything your best shot and take every opportunity that presented itself. He was a hard-worker, totally dedicated to every aspect of his career, and he instilled in me the importance of working hard to achieve one’s goals. He always enjoyed studying and learning, and we were all so proud when, at the age of 52, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Studies and Social Science from Canterbury Christ Church University. Every role that he held throughout his life, both his professional roles, and his personal roles as a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and family man, he fulfilled to the absolute best of his ability.
Over the last few weeks, Mum and I have received so many wonderful cards, emails and letters from Dad’s many friends. There is a clear theme to the comments… Dad was utterly reliable, quietly supportive, and would regularly go out of his way to help people. He was a professional. He was a gentleman. He was a great friend, a great neighbour, a great musician, and a great man. One of the nicest men you could wish to meet – small in stature, huge in heart, many of us looked up to him. As his daughter, I can echo every one of those sentiments.
we are shocked to have lost you so suddenly and so unexpectedly. But
Mum and I both know how lucky we are to have had such a wonderful man
as a husband and a father. Thank you for enriching our lives. Thank
you for simply being you. Thank you for everything. We will miss you.