Gordon Sanderson: [Heath 1934–1940]

Head and shoulders of Gordon Sanderson
Gordon Sanderson in the 1940s

Rachel Besenyei, granddaughter of Gordon Sanderson, has let us know of the passing of her grandfather on , aged 97 years.

At his funeral held on Tuesday, , the following tribute from the family was read out:

You are a Sunday roast, doused in gravy and with Yorkshire puddings just so. Several cups of tea with two sugars, mashed so strong the spoon could stand up on its own, a ‘sergeant major.’ You are the Oxo cube you were given for being well behaved. Humbugs in the glove box and polos shared with horses on a walk. Kit Kats from the fridge, and religiously saving the silver foil.

When we think of you, we hear rousing brass band tunes from your CD player, marching music, country & western, Willie Nelson singing as you speed across the Dales. Your foot tapping in time with the beat. Your distinctive sniff, never without a handkerchief (or a penknife, things in your pockets that ‘might come in for something’). We hear you cheering on a good try or a goal or jumping up to touch the ceiling when England won the ‘66 World Cup.

You are long walks across the Yorkshire Dales, up to the wood, ‘twice round the lighthouse and back in time for tea.’ Leading the way with your piercing whistle to guide us, only stopping on the tops to spot landmarks or new birds. A love of nature and the great outdoors, a curiosity about the natural world, always reaching for an atlas or a reference book to answer our wonderings with detail. Thank you for walking us off our stocking tops.

You are sweet peas, roses, chrysanthemums and all flowers, cultivated patiently over many years. ‘How do?’ ‘champion,’ and ‘not bad for a lad.’ A stiff upper lip, Yorkshire stoicism, but always with a witticism to see the lighter side of life. The smell of Germolene on another cut you’ve sustained whilst out and about. Thank you for encouraging us to stick up for ourselves and for never being afraid to say things how they are.

Thank you for never sitting still. Teaching us to garden or drive, to play football, rugby, or cricket. For playing badminton in the mornings before it’s too warm, and for finding new ways to keep us entertained. Thank you for capturing our childhood on your camera or video recorder, recording programmes for us on your Sky box, for still sending us texts aged 96.

Outside your window the garden is full of flowers and little birds. Soon it will be time for rows of beans, leeks and cabbages. Rhubarb for crumble, raspberries for winemaking, and tomatoes from the greenhouse for us to take home. We will always look forward to the next flower, shoot or seed emerging.

With thanks to Rachel Besenyei.