Sadly on the 12th August 2015, Les Constable (the big man) was called to the grand temple in the sky.
Les was an Honorary member of Walnut Tree Lodge.
Here is an edited copy of Chris Constables Tribute to his father, which he has kindly allowed us to publish on our website.
Memories of Dad
I think Dad had a fairly simple upbringing and, being an only child, was very used to having things his own way, or at least that’s what he told us. But little did he know then what lay ahead and what an interesting and fulfilling life he would have with Mum and his ever growing family.
One of his memories as a child was when he was at Grafton Junior School in Dagenham and he was made to learn the hymn ‘To be a Pilgrim’. A hymn he has always liked hearing.
As a young man Dad joined the Air Training Corp, which is where he met Mum, and it was also where he volunteered for the Royal Navy and joined the Fleet Air Arm. He was posted to Lossiemouth Naval Air Station in Scotland, where amongst other things he worked on a plane flown by the Station Commander. This very aircraft, a Grumman Hellcat, is currently housed at the Fleet Air Arm Museum and on a visit one day to the museum he was actually allowed to sit in the plane, which was quite a special treat for him.
I should also mention at this point that as a young man Dad was a pretty good footballer and , in fact, whilst stationed in Lossiemouth he was called up a few times to play for Buckie Thistle FC in the Highlands League for which he got paid ! Just imagine, Dad, a semi – professional footballer, who would have thought it. Ever since then he always kept an eye out for their results.
Dad was quite a big man and I was always convinced he was modelling himself on one of his favourite actors, John Wayne, the fact that both his stature and the way he walked was somewhat similar, particularly in his more mobile years.
My sisters and I just knew him as our Dear Dad, a family man through and through and never happier than when the family were all together.
When he and Mum were at parties or social functions, and he’d had a few drinks, he would often serenade Mum with a love song and one of his favourites was ‘Long Ago and Far Away’, Such an old smoothy.
He was often affectionately called ’ Les-Les ‘ by Mum , and not because she thought he was so good she named him twice, but because she was always needing to get his attention if she wanted anything done.
It was very sad and difficult for Dad, and for us, when Mum passed away as she was the heart and soul of the family and we know that Dad missed her every day.
Dad could always count on support from the family and in particular from Mum’s sister Carole and her husband Peter, who have always been there in both the good times as well as helping and guiding us through the more recent difficult times.
Mum and Dad were great parents who set the standards for how we should behave, grow up and mature and I would like to hope that they felt they did a good job and that we turned out ok.
Dad was fairly strict with us in our early years, but always fair and both he and Mum were proud of us in everything we achieved. They also installed a working ethic into us at a very early age.
When we were young children and Dad was working at Fords in Customer Relations he used to bring home claim forms to be collated and completed and we used to help him, getting extra pocket money for every one we did.
Dad was a Ford man for most of his working life starting on the production line and then transferring into the offices in Customer Relations. He managed to do a fair amount of travelling with the company, both home and abroad, going to many conferences and conventions. His love for football got him involved with Ford United Football Club for which he became Honorary Chairman of the club for a while. I used to go to matches with him and you could see he loved being involved with the club and all the attention he received.
Football played a major part in Dad’s life, particularly in his younger days, not only as a player, but as a referee where he rose to a fairly senior level, unfortunately just missing out on football league standard, due to him not meeting their stringent fitness criteria. However, he did take charge of some top senior non-league games in his career and was well respected throughout the game.
He then turned his knowledge and experience to referee assessing and examining which he also thoroughly enjoyed. He always wanted me to become a referee but I said I preferred to play rather than get all the abuse from the players. His reply was always well that’s ok, but at least I’m getting paid for it… your having to pay to play!!
Mum and Dad’s house in Albany Road, our one and only family home, will always hold special memories for us and it will be difficult for us not to be visiting there in the future.
Mum and Dad moved into this newly built house when Valerie was born, and then, a couple of years later, it’s where I was born…. actually in Mum and Dad’s bedroom.
They had great parties there, many memorable Saturday family lunches and more recently, since Mum passed away, Dad held Ladies Night social evenings at home that were attended by all the Ladies in the now largely extended family. Fun nights for the girls and all arranged to make him feel special.
It was a great idea that was thought up by some of the grandchildren to try and keep Dad happy and smiling, and also to diminish some of his ever growing wine and spirit stocks!!
I know he loved those get- togethers and he always looked forward to them.
Whenever music was played at home it was more often than not the Big Band sounds ; such as Glenn Miller, whose song ‘Moonlight Serenade’ was playing as we came in today, and also Judy Garland, who was one of Dad’s favourite female singers.
Also, I have to mention Dad’s love of old films, particularly war films, cowboy films and musicals.
Where do I start … He had the complete works of John Wayne films, I think there’s 70 in all, as well as virtually every old film musical ever made and too many World War 2 films to mention.
More recently, as he became housebound, he would watch all the old TV series such as Morse, Murder She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury who was another of his favourites, Heartbeat, and so on… And, if they were in black and white that was even better, as he didn’t go much on all the latest TV programmes.
He also took the Telegraph newspaper everyday not only to keep up with the news but to keep his mind active by doing the crosswords, which he was pretty good at.. He used to say “I’m a mind of useless information”
Apart from being a devoted and loving husband to Mum for 62 years, most of Dad’s life revolved around three things, family, holidays and caravanning, which was preceded by camping in the early years.
Dad was never happier than when on holiday with family and friends. As children, we had many great holidays back in the ‘60s at Perransands Holiday Centre in Cornwall and then we ventured further afield on European camping holidays with Mum and Dad’s friends and their children.
More recently they discovered ‘Bolero Holidays’ a company that did coach travel holidays to pitched tents, caravans and mobile homes in Italy at a site called Union Lido which turned into a whole family holiday tradition. Mum and Dad loved it there, so much so that they went 17 times over many years and sometimes more than once a year.
Dad also loved his caravanning days with Mum and they went away most weekends with their local Caravan Club where they forged good friendships. Susan and Barry were also members of the club and were on hand if ever Dad got into ‘difficulties’. Dad would love to be away with the club, always barbequing, and always partaking of plenty of liquid refreshment.
Dad was also very proud to be a Freemason, not only progressing through to the senior ranks himself, but also having the special honour of initiating me into freemasonry as well.
He made many friends in freemasonry and it was, in fact, his friend and old neighbour who actually got him into it in the first place. His first lodge which was also my lodge unfortunately closed down but he joined a closely associated lodge in London and he was still a member there. He was a regular guest at my lodge in Orsett where they always made him welcome and he was also made an honorary member of an Upminster lodge which he attended regularly and thoroughly enjoyed, until his recent ill health made it impossible for him to attend meetings at any lodges.
He was fondly regarded as a real gentleman by all the lodge members who knew him and it is nice to see representatives of the lodges here today, thank you for coming.
Mum and Dad also enjoyed Masonic Ladies Nights and Weekends and were always pleased when a good crowd of family and friends got together at such events.
Later on in life Dad unfortunately started to get a few ailments and, just like Mum, began to suffer with diabetes, which he was still being treated for. He tried to help his condition by controlling his diet and losing weight, even joining Slimming World at their Romford Branch, where he was regularly Slimming Man of the Year. Mind you he was usually the only man attending!
When he stopped driving his car he used to go to his weekly meetings on his electric mobility scooter with its chunky frame and alloy wheels. We called it his ‘Chariot’ and it allowed him to retain a bit of freedom to get around for a few years.
Dad passed away peacefully and is now back together with Mum, the true love of his life, and when they meet up again he’ll probably get the ‘Les-Les’ treatment all over again, but I‘m sure he won’t mind though.
And finally, I must remember to be positive as Dad kept saying to me that I was becoming ‘a glass half empty person’ regarding his health and future prospects whereas he always had a positive ‘glass half full’ attitude.