Today my dad was informed that he will be awarded a masters degree at Cambridge University where he has been studying recently. While I am overflowing with pride over his achievement, what really makes me smile is the incredible journey that led him there.
Born and raised in the Dales in North Yorkshire, he came from a frugal rural upbringing in a large working-class family. They didn’t have much, but he always made the most out of what he did have, never complaining, always dreaming, leading him on step by step through a range of adventures, each underlined with his phenomenal sense of values, and an unwavering commitment to family and hard work.
His life so far has been a rich tapestry of diversity, with just a few of his experiences including being a welder, running multiple car dealerships, managing a multimedia software project, being a hypnotherapist, a magistrate, a nightclub owner, a mayor, a pub landlord, and currently running an antiques business in conjunction with my mum who has embarked on her own incredible journey to become one of the top master restorers in England.
While his daily routine has differed over the years, his values have not. He is the purest definition of good person that I have ever met. He has spent his life committed to doing the right thing, often challenged by adversity. He has always defended those without a voice, often putting his own personal circumstances and comfort levels into a state of flux. He fought for voting rights for women in working mens clubs in the UK, campaigned for the safety of residents near rail crossings in the town I was born in, stood up against inferior safety provisions in his workplace to protect his workmates, he took his old friend Ray to the 50th anniversary D-Day memorial in Normandy and went to great lengths to obtain replica medals as Ray had lost his many years previous. These are just a few examples from a patchwork of experiences stitched together with kindness.
He has not only been the perfect father, but a true inspiration for a son. He taught me a strong set of values, each illustrated by his experiences; experiences shared but never lectured, and from my earliest childhood memory I can remember him and my mum both encouraging and defending my right to an opinion, under the premise it was shared fairly and with empathy for other people’s views.
So, while I sit here beaming from cheek to cheek with pride over my dad who started with nothing and made something while never compromising who he is and where he came from, it makes me realize just how incredibly fortunate I am to have been blessed by such an incredible mentor. I love you dad, and I have never been so proud of you as I am today.