Roger Wright Dixon: [Heath 1957–1965]

It is with great regret that we report the sudden death of Roger Wright Dixon on surrounded by family.

Beloved and devoted husband to Barbara; loving dad to Victoria and Robert; wonderful grandad and father-in-law; dependable family man; loyal friend. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

A celebration of Roger’s life was held in a completely full All Saints Church, Dudwell Lane with around 80 people standing at the back on 31 January 2024. Donations to British Heart Foundation gratefully received.

Eulogy for Roger

Roger and Barbara first got together in 1977 having known each other for a few years.  Their first date was a Copley Cricket Club car treasure hunt.  They got engaged in October of the following year and married in November 1979 here at All Saints.  They chose November …. well Roger did, as it was out of the cricket season!  Roger continued to play cricket for quite a few years along with his brother John who was also an active member.  Barbara, having never been a fan of the game, helped out with occasional cricket teas.

In 1981 Victoria was born, followed by Robert in 1984. Their family was complete!

At that time Roger was Company Secretary at Boxford Machine Tools in Wheatley but eventually moved onto work for West Yorkshire County Council in Batley and then latterly to Kirklees Council in Huddersfield.  The sound of his car reversing up the drive after work would always have the children racing to the door, screaming ‘Dad’s home!!’

Roger definitely worked to live, rather than living to work, and he put a lot of energy outside of work into planning the family’s many holidays in the caravan.  After countless wet weeks in the UK, they started venturing to France, all the trips meticulously planned by Roger, long before the Internet, armed with only a Michelin Green Guide, the Caravan Club handbook and a road atlas.  The guide books were a bit of a source of embarrassment for the children, but now you’ll rarely see Victoria without one on any holiday, a future source of embarrassment for her own kids!

Pressure from the children to go on a ‘proper holiday’ (i.e. on a plane!) eventually led them to Ibiza (never again!) and Florida.  Once Victoria and Robert were at university, Roger and Barbara thought they would be able to go away on their own, but found the retirement trips they were planning (to Tenerife and New York respectively) were far too tempting to keep them away!

Two years into his retirement, Roger underwent a triple heart bypass.  It gave him a new lease of life and the inspiration and desire to venture even further afield and he and Barbara enjoyed trips to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Victoria was worried that Roger would be bored when he retired, but when she finally voiced her concerns, Roger laughed and said that he had been counting down the days for quite some time!  When he retired he threw himself into active membership of Greenroyd Bowling Club, taking on the role of Treasurer, which he enjoyed right up to the end.  He was also President twice.  He introduced Barbara to the club and the game and they both really enjoyed the social side of the club as well as the bowling, although Roger probably regretted it a little when Barbara’s winning streaks became stronger than his!  Roger was a member of Yorkshire Cricket Club at Headingley and went to as many games as he could, either with Robert, a friend or sometimes even on his own. He also enjoyed a game of golf regularly with an ex colleague and friend, however he never felt he was good enough to join a club — typical Roger, always underselling himself.  He was a member of Heath Old Boys walking group up to about 18 months ago when he had to stop due to an Achilles problem.  He always, however, hoped he would be able to get back to it again, not only for the exercise it gave him, but for the opportunity to catch up with his friends at the same time.

As you all know, Roger was a fan of all sports, both watching and playing, and the oar presented to him in 1966 after the May Bumps race at Cambridge still has pride of place in the apartment as a permanent reminder of his sporting prowess from his youth.

Robert and Victoria have so many sporting memories from their childhood — bat and ball and pétanque on beach holidays, cricket and football on the moor after tea, penalty shoot outs in the garden, badminton tournaments, the list goes on…

The importance of sport in Roger’s life was a bit of a running joke, but it always came in second place to the importance of his family for him.  His steadfast devotion to his soulmate Barbara, his love and support of Victoria and Robert and their own families will be felt by them all forever.  Roger was never a huge one for public displays of affection, but that all changed with the arrival of his four grandchildren, Rowan, Amélie, Thea and George.  Photos sent on the family WhatsApp group were regularly met with all the heart eyes emojis from him and he was always the first to get down on the floor and immerse himself in the children’s crazy games, including this Christmas where he was on incredible form, leading the kids in a chaotic game of charades. His competitive side would never let the kids win easily though…!

When he did take the time to sit down, preferably well away from any draughts, he always had a murder mystery novel on the go with Poirot, Inspector Morse and Rebus being particular favourites. He also had a real soft spot for the underdog character in any book, especially if they were a little bit strange…

He was never overly ambitious but was quietly determined and always made sure he saw any job or task through to the very end.  He just loved life and threw himself into anything 100%.  If he was going to do it, it had to be done right!  He wasn’t particularly confident but could strike up a conversation with anyone in any situation, being particularly fond of bending the ear of National Trust volunteers on the many day trips and weekends away that he and Barbara enjoyed. He would always read every word of the displays in museums — the Yorkshire man always wanting to get his money’s worth, even when the exhibitions were free!  He was just interested in everything which in turn made him a very interesting man to be around.  He put everyone at ease and, even if he didn’t always feel it himself, he was a calm, relaxing presence.

Roger was once described by a family member as his ‘north, south east and west, someone he could always rely on.’  This is exactly how his family would describe him too.  No amount of time would ever have been enough but the time they had together was full of love, joy, fun and laughter right up until the end.

The family have been overwhelmed by the love and support from everyone, through the cards and letters they have received and would like to thank you all.  Roger would have been bowled over to know the impact he had on so many people.

He will never be forgotten.  This very unassuming, modest, loving, bright, friendly family man; a true gentleman who touched the lives of everyone he met.

With thanks to Barbara Dixon and the family for sharing this.

A eulogy

What can I say about Roger?

. . . Many tributes have already been paid to him by the various clubs, committees and organisations with which he was involved, and who like all of us are saddened by his sudden death.

It was the late Queen Elizabeth said, ‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’

. . . and so I would like to say a few words about Roger as a dear friend . . . and my favourite cousin.

Firstly I think everyone here today would agree that Roger was one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, such a popular, kind and likeable member of his local community.

My father and Roger’s mother were brother and sister and we grew up with close family ties on Skircoat Green. Roger was always keen to keep up with the family connections and supported all the family gatherings, parties and occasions with great enthusiasm.

His parents were Jack and Winnie and they lived on Lawrence Road, Skircoat Green. His father worked for David Brown Tractors in Meltham and Huddersfield. They had three children John (1944), Roger (1946) and Alan (1951). Sadly, Jack died far too prematurely in 1961 and this loss only strengthened the bond between Roger’s brothers, making them a close family unit. Indeed, perhaps this made him all the more aware at an early age of the importance of family ties.

Roger attended All Saints Junior School but seemed to spend much of his spare time playing football and cricket on Broomfield, Manor Heath and Savile Park. He then moved to Heath Grammar School and it soon became apparent that Roger not only was an exceptional scholar, but was also a natural all round sportsman, a highly competitive athlete who seemed to sail through school achieving virtually every sporting and academic accolade available with consummate ease. In the absence of his own father, my father always took an active interest in Roger’s academic and sporting achievements and over the years they enjoyed a close friendship.

Roger loved sport of any type. It was always prominent in his life. Even when the family travelled over to Southport to visit relations in those early days when we were young, it was statutory for us to have a family game of cricket on the beach. He never missed an opportunity to engage in sport — and if he wasn’t playing sport, he would be involved in quizzes or watching sport on TV.

As a young teenager in the 1960s, I was in awe of Roger and his sporting abilities as he seemed to excel at everything he applied himself to. He was a natural gifted sportsman.

In athletics I remember him at school winning the 100 yards, 220 yards, long jump, triple jump — not only winning these events but often setting new school records. He was a member of the victorious Heath School Rugby team which enjoyed a golden era of rugby in the 1960s, winning the Ilkley Sevens, the Sutcliffe Cup, almost winning the Llanelli Sevens and several other successes in prestigious rugby competitions.

In cricket he was presented with a cricket bat for scoring a century innings in a school cricket match. With his highly competitive nature, whatever he put his mind to, he applied himself with total commitment and he was always popular with all the players in his various teams.

On leaving Heath Grammar School, he was awarded the coveted Victor Ludorum, the highest accolade the school could award to the outstanding sportsman of the year.

After achieving top grades in his A Levels, he gained a place at Downing College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a BSc in Pure Science.

Whilst studying at Cambridge he even managed to find time to indulge in other sports including rugby, football, tennis, golf, badminton and — something totally different — rowing, and those of you who have been to Roger’s home will see evidence of this in the form of an oar proudly mounted on the wall in his hallway — a reminder of happy times at Cambridge.

On leaving University, he then took up various positions in industry, with GKN, Imperial Typewriters and Boxfords, whilst also studying in Accountancy, before deciding to return to his beloved Yorkshire — and I think Andrew will say a little more about these workplaces in a few moments. His last position up to his retirement was with Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council.

Roger’s mother, Winnie, died in 2001, sadly, soon to be followed by the death of Alan, his younger brother, in 2003 and then the loss of his elder brother John in 2014. These events had a profound effect on Roger and made him very aware of being the last man standing in his family and I’m sure this made him more determined than ever to live life to the full.

Once back in Yorkshire, he was able to play cricket at Copley Cricket Club, where he enjoyed over a decade as an eminently competent batsman, and also applied himself to his new interest in bowling. At Stafford, Greenroyd and Halifax Bowling Clubs he immersed himself in bowls with his usual high standards and competitive edge. Somehow he also found time to play tennis and badminton.

But his greatest success in life was meeting Barbara, the love of his life, his soulmate and his best friend.

They met in 1976. On their first date they went to a dance at the Alexander Hall in Halifax. They spent the whole evening dancing together and — well the rest is all history.

They married in 1979 in this very church and enjoyed 44 happy years together, frequently travelling around the globe from Australia to America, New Zealand to Florida and Canada to Russia, enjoying their love of new adventures and time spent together. The arrival of Victoria (1981) and Robert (1984) made their family complete.

He was once asked what was the secret of a long and happy marriage. After a few moments thought he said, . . .‘probably having two televisions!’

Roger was modest about his achievements, a rare quality nowadays, in a world where self aggrandisement is paramount. He valued friendship, and was often more interested in talking about others than himself, and was always keen to hear their news.

It was fortuitous in hindsight that, only last November, Victoria and Neil moved back to the North from London and with Robert and Becs already living in Manchester, Roger and Barbara were able to spend what turned out to be a few precious months together with the family and their grandchildren.

The sadness of this whole event is that Roger will never realise just how much he was loved, admired and respected by so many of us.

But he will live on in Victoria and Robert, and of course their children, and he will always be remembered for being what we all know too well — a true gentleman and a dear friend.

Richard Brearley

A tribute

Where do I start to describe my friendship with Roger over more than 60 years?

The beginning was in 1957 when we started at Heath Grammar school.Immediately I looked up to him not only because he was clearly highly intelligent and good at sport but also because he was already over 6 feet tall whilst most of the year group were so much smaller. My friendship with Roger didn’t really relate totally to sport; it was cemented from 1962 onwards when we went on holiday together for five consecutive years — two school trips to Switzerland, two holidays touring Europe in parents’ motor cars and a holiday in Yugoslavia. People arrived from various locations whereas Roger and I went the whole journey to Yugoslavia from Halifax by train.

On graduating from Cambridge University, Roger commenced to work in production management within a large engineering business. He soon realised this was not for him and switched to training in industrial accountancy, gaining the relevant qualifications.

He worked in Greater Manchester and then Hull with Imperial Typewriters, eventually finding a job in Halifax with Boxford Machine tools. Roger was a home bird really and lived at Lawrence Road with his widowed mother. From there he was able to continue his sporting activities and to socialise with long standing friends.

For a time there were no particular young ladies in his life but there was one in mine. We were married in 1970, with him very willingly agreeing to be my best man.

As usual Roger was more than happy to fulfil his duties, as the wedding was taking place in Anglesey. On the wedding day Roger had prepared his best man speech meticulously.

Early in their marriage their home life was dominated by the arrival of their children, Victoria and Robert, but they still played an active part in church life as well as managing the delights of caravanning for some of their holidays.

Roger never stopped participating in sporting activity. Cricket, badminton, tennis and a little golf were his main pursuits — the tradition of us playing sport (either tennis or badminton) on a Monday evening, followed by a pint in the pub, was a tradition started many years previously.

Later he added bowls and snooker to his sports agenda by joining Greenroyd bowling club.

Nearing retirement Roger committed himself to the role of treasurer in 2005. He was President of the Club in 2001 and again in 2015. He has been captain of the B team since the club joined the Hebden Royd Bowls league.He always enjoyed winning especially when he and a partner beat Mrs Barbara Dixon and her partner in the final of the Brooke Moyles pairs competition.

Throughout the time of Roger’s treasurership the club has gone through much change. Constitutionally, structurally and financially, he has been the guiding hand throughout this period. So many friendships were formed by him at Greenroyd, as there have been at the other bowling club just along the road.

Roger joined Stafford Bowling Club having heard that bridge was being played there and, like all his games, wanted to improve his skills. His interest in competitive sport never waned and he made so many friends as a result.

Throughout my married life Roger has taken part in many of our celebrations, especially the anniversaries.

On each occasion Roger has produced a delightful speech culminating with one he gave for our 50th in September 2020. Because of Covid we nearly didn’t have a celebration at all. The situation improved in the summer and we had the idea to go back to the scene of our wedding reception at the Trearddur Bay Hotel, Anglesey, inviting just the immediate family and key members of the original wedding party.

So Roger and Barbara came with us for a lovely weekend which included dinner together in the hotel on our anniversary day. Having finished dining I was feeling happy and relaxed forgetting totally about speeches. Roger hadn’t and he had prepared a splendid speech as usual, typical of the lovely man he was.

Roger and Barbara have been such good friends to my wife and to me always enjoying our socialising together, no more so than at the wonderful weekend of the wedding of Robert and Becks in Cheshire. Subsequently Roger was an extremely proud father giving Victoria away at her and Neil’s delightful wedding in Leeds. Roger’s legacy lives on in grandchildren Rowan, Amelie, Thea and George.

Roger has been a wonderful friend to me and all his multitude of friends here today. We mourn his passing while celebrating the great times we shared.

Andrew Waite [Heath 1957–1964]