Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Face Book will know that my husband lost a dear friend recently. Theirs was a perfect example of how friendship covers distance, culture and time. Again, regular readers will know about the Fleet trip that Nick takes each year to Leeds.
Wingrove Austin Manners was a member of the opposing team. He had played professional football as a lad, being on the books of Bradford City. He was a passionate sportsman and enjoyed taking part in many sports. As his son Jermaine followed in his footsteps and excelled in any sport but particularly those with a racquet, Winnie upped his game. He would tell you that was in support of his son of whom he was incredibly proud but we all knew it was also to be there alongside him. He never lost that competitive spirit!
He had a heart attack playing squash and although he seemed to be making good progress and the effects of the stroke seemed to be small, he died a couple of weeks later. We were unable to attend the funeral as we were in Ireland working with schools. However, we were able to go up a week later and meet Jermaine and some close friends. It was a lovely couple of hours full of stories of the big man and his antics over the years. Do pop over and read ‘It’s sport Jim but not as we know it’ which is a post I wrote 4 years ago that explains the magic of this relationship. I was also taken with a piece from his funeral:
Not, how did he die, but how did he live? Not, what did he gain, but what did he give? These are the units to measure the worth Of a man as a man, regardless of his birth. Nor what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need? Was he ever ready, with words of good cheer, to bring back a smile and banish a tear? Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say, But how many were sorry when he passed away.
He taught me a great deal about the racism in our country. How with his broad Yorkshire accent he could be offered a job on the phone but not when he walked through the door and they saw his black skin. He taught me about coping with that sort of discrimination and how you don’t let it get you down, you just do your job as well as you can. We know there were over 350 people at his funeral and they would have represented many nationalities and cultures. We are very sad at your passing Winnie but so very grateful you were in our lives.