On behalf of Frank’s family
I welcome you here this morning. Very occasionally a local community will have its equivalent of a state funeral and surely as we gather here and say farewell to Frank this is such an occasion. We have all come with differing perspectives and bring different memories: a family, friends, neighbours, representing organisations, committees and concerns or just representing ourselves.
But in spite of this divergence and reasons our hope is that this service of thanksgiving can draw together as many strands as is possible and although there is considerable sadness and shock at Frank’s passing our focus is not what is lost but what we have all gained by sharing to a greater or lesser extent our own lives with Frank: and as we will find out we have gained a remarkable amount.
In these days of national uncertainty beyond all and above all Frank George Bangay was a fine Englishman. His multifaceted personality, his great range of gifts, his vision, his devotion and even his eccentricities are of a special character of this Island. And as in a few moments Sue will draw together his achievements and public life, it is my privilege to focus in a more personal way on that uniqueness. I am indebted to all those especially his family who have carefully and lovingly guided this tribute.
Frank’s life is a fulfilled life and a life of integrity and a rounded life, for it begins where it ends.
The main outline of his life is very straightforward and covers an area of 200 square yards. He was born in Station Road on 10 Feb 1919, the eldest son of 8 children: his schooling was local and then at Maidstone Technical School. His technical and practical skills led him to work for the Gas Board for 47 years. During the war he served in the Royal Pioneer Corp. At the end of the war he married Edna and from their home there grew his family of Brian and Ian and Marian and Alison. After Edna’s sad death in 1973 he found further happiness with Freda and her daughter Julie and his family now embraces his 3 grandchildren.
And yet to this very simple biographical sketch we must add such a density of personality and achievement.
Throughout Frank’s life there are recurring themes that continually re-invented adapted and drove him forward. He had a keen mind that went straight to the quick of the matter. He was immensely proud of his education. He could cut through and lead an argument.
He was an extremely hard and seeming tireless worker – he had an incredible energy . He was extremely technically well skilled and an excellent craftsman and designer. Not only was he a self-made man he created and shared a self-made world. At home the build up to Christmas was a time of great conspiracy and stopping any of the children going into the cellar for “Father Christmas” was using all his skills and ingenuity to create a wonderful toy. The same energy of the toy maker was one of the driving forces behind every project.
A sense of fair play; a strong belief in the value of everyday life, the common man, through his charitable work, his union activity, his political involvement, he understood the value and meaning of community.
Frank also had a great gift to balance the old with the new; forward thinking – visionary in his concept and planning, yet strongly believing in traditional values and able to interpret and use the meaning and purpose of history: whether it be personal, local or national. His great sense of history was infectious: he would occasionally turn up with some new find “I thought this might interest you” – a shopping list from 1908!!
He was one of the original recyclers be it something he made or an idea: things had different use and meaning.
He was very patriotic and insisted in having the family watch “The Trooping of the colour”, “The festival of Remembrance”. Yet none of this was naive or purely emotional – it showed a greater understanding of how ceremony and tradition could focus something deeper than pure pageantry and sport- England all the way. He had a great love of words offering support and advice to those who wanted it and on occasion to those who did not! And yet he could also be reticent and always a philosophy of action spoke louder than words and all these gifts and qualities supremely focused on family life: he could create the most magical Christmas; the most wonderful holidays; always adding, creating, building; a deep love generated and shared and his interests and enthusiasm involving each one:
and in the midst of family life there concentrated those wonderful characteristics and eccentricity that we all have witnessed.
He could be obstinate; he could be fussy and faddy especially with food; he could never sit still or relax; when bending the rules he would say “I’ve always done it like that” and he had some wonderful system of illusion: when his mother visited he would wash up giving the impression he always did it;
contradiction – we all knew he loved to talk but also claimed to hate being bothered; and therefore he kept a pair of pliers by the front door and pretended to be busy when unwanted visitors called and best of all to get rid of unwanted telephone callers he would go and ring his own front-door bell!
He had a very dry wit; he knew some beautiful asides. During VE day celebrations he was explaining to a group how a certain girl was bombed out of London and then moving to this area she was bombed out again and He said ”Very unlucky” and then aside “or maybe her mum and dad did not like her!”
We give thanks today for Frank’s wonderful example and personality a wonderful Englishman, a great man and a good man and these qualities are the driving force behind these achievements. Sue will tell us of them now.