On Thursday 31st July, we met at Forest Road Crematorium for the 2nd time in 2 weeks to say goodbye to another dear friend, Ray Biscoe, who passed away on 17th July. Ray succumbed to the cancer that he had been fighting so bravely for 20 years. He fought it with everything he had and never lost hope that he would beat it but it wasn’t to be.
It was really nice to see that so many of the club turned out in club uniform to pay their respects with the family to a fellow bowler who had been a loyal member and friend of St Chads. It was obvious how liked Ray was from the number of people attending the funeral, every seat was taken and quite a few more standing at the back. His daughter Paula read a poem she had written herself and John, his son, read they eulogy which was very entertaining, it also gave a brief insight into how much Ray packed into his life.
Ray’s son John read out a eulogy
For those of you who don’t know me my name is John Biscoe and I am Ray’s son. On behalf of my mother, sister and our family I welcome you all here today, a very sad occasion but we are here not because my dad has died, but because he lived and you all knew him and I know that everyone in the room has their own memory of dad, whether through family or work colleagues or through shooting, fishing, ferreting or bowls and friends from his many hobbies and passions he had in his 81 year life. Thank you all for being here and for your support to our family during this sad time.
My dad Raymond John Biscoe was born on the 13th September 1937 in Folkestone in Kent, just before the outbreak of WWII, and dad often used to recall his early memories of the Spitfire, Hurricane and Messerschmitt dog flights overhead. Dad was bought up in very tough and humble surroundings, father was a Chief Engineer in the Merchant Navy who was never at home, meaning that he didn’t have a father figure in his early years to guide him during these tough times, much tougher than today. This stayed with him for the rest of his life, he never took much for granted, no silver spoon that’s for sure and he worked very hard for everything he had from a very early age.
School was not one of dads life highlights, he left at the age of 13%, when I say left he was asked to leave and he went to work on a local dairy farm, apart from learning a lot about farm and country life he became an avid pot hunter and with a small bore shotgun would provide rabbits and pigeons for tea supplementing the rationing that was taking place in the late 40’s and early 50’s. This is where he got his passion for field sports which would stay with him for the rest of his life.
The National Service beckoned, and dad joined the Army in 1955, joined the Buffs East Kent regiment garrisoned in Canterbury Kent and did his basic training in Dover Castle.
Whilst in the Army, dad served mainly in Aden in the Middle East.
Whilst serving in the Army my dad through his best friend from Folkestone, George Draper, met my mother as George was dating my mum’s sister Rita, and they both ended up marrying sisters forging a very special relationship between best friends as they became brother in laws. Mum and dad married on the 2nd January 1960. I came along in the November of 1960 followed by my sister Paula 5 years later. Mum and dad managed 59 years and 7 months of married life together which by today’s standard is a remarkable achievement.
Dads Army training stayed with him for alf of his life, he was a very proud man, and was very particular about his appearance and he had a passion for clean shoes, ours were inspected before school most mornings, clean fingernails and clean ears, no mess at any time was tolerated and everything had its place and should be in its place
He also hated lateness and woe betide anyone who was late for a meet with him. My sister and I learnt the art of stealth when returning home late in our teenage years to avoid dad’s wrath, and creeping cat like up the stairs in darkness. There is no doubt if we woke him up, we were in trouble. He could be tough at times.
Dads working career was spent mostly at Ford Motor Company, he worked there for 35 years starting on the production line, becoming an HGV driver then working in the office as a traffic controller. He was very loyal to Ford to the point when I was given a Vauxhall Astra GTE as a company car, he refused to let me park it on his drive, saying that I will put him out of a job.
Dad retired at 55 from Ford’s then went to work for Newham Council as a driver for Social Services delivery meals on wheels and taking special needs children to school, a job he really enjoyed.
The biggest passion is dad’s life outside of family and work was shooting, particularly wild-fowling. Dad joined the South Essex Wild-fowling Club at the invitation of Ted Head and Roger Watkins in 1962, both life long friends and the Club has formed a big part of our families lives for almost 60 years. A sport which he introduced me to at an early age, and a sport which we both very much enjoyed, we have both met some fantastic people who have become our lifelong friends, many who are here today.
My dad and I spent many hours together at his beloved Bridgemarsh Island trying to shoot a duck for tea. When I say trying, we didn’t always get it right. Most of our outings have a story attached to them which on reflection I can now look back and smile or laugh at but as a young boy and as a young man it wasn’t always as funny at the time as it is now. There are too many stories to tell, from the one where he had to divert to the PDSA in Romford on the way home, with is dogs ear in his pockets, he had somehow shot it off— we never got the full story but apparently it was the dogs fault. The ear was successfully sewn back on and the dog almost didn’t seem to suffer any side effects and lived on to 15 years old, another time when he took me on an evening flight, both sitting on the wall at No. 6 on the Island at dusk, just before darkness, when a duck flew over.
Apart from his beloved wild-fowling, dad had other interests and was also a member of the BSA owners club, he enjoyed motorbike racing and trips to the Isle of Man TT races with my uncle George, the Scimitar Owners Club, Harrow Sea Angling Club, Billericay and District Angling Club and was a member of a local pheasant shoot and in his later years a member of St Chads Bowls Club. He certainly cut a dashing figure in his whites, a far cry from camouflage and waders. Most of the club’s activities he was involved in finished with a light and bitter in the Harrow Pub in Chadwell Heath. He loved that pub and the people who used to drink in the public bar, my Nan used to call it the Devils kitchen, she had appointed.
We always said that he should have joined as a member of a debating society often when he was in the mood, he had certain opinions which he would like to argue to the end opinions which he wouldn’t budge from which I am sure you have all experienced at some time.
This tenacity, this never be beaten attitude gave him the strength to fight his cancer, with the help of doctors, nurses and caring staff for nearly 20 years, but sadly in the last few weeks the cancer gained strength and eventually beat him.
So dad from all of us thanks for the good humour, for the advice that we didn’t always take and for being a good dad, for the Sunday pub outings, the shooting and fishing memories, for being a loyal husband, a fabulous granddad and a great friend to many.
Ray loved his bowling, St Chads was a big part of his life and he really missed it when he couldn’t come. Nobody could ever say either that you didn’t know where Ray stood on matters. One such was dress-code, Ray was a strong advocate of every member being turned out in club uniform where appropriate especially on club outings.
The wake was at the Two Brewers in Chigwell and I think it’s fair to say we celebrated Ray’s life in style. The family laid on a very nice spread, Ray would have been very pleased of how the day turned out.
Irene is very keen to stay in touch with friends and would appreciate it very much if people would visit or phone occasionally. She is a joy to be with and such contact would really help her, and her family, to get over their loss.
If anyone would like to add their own memories of Ray to this post then please send them to me, I’ll be glad to add them.
Secretary of St Chads Bowls Club.