Gerard "Nobby" Clarke

My dear uncle Nobby Clarke died earlier today after a long struggle with cancer.  God rest him.  A blessed release for him and the family in the end, but no less hard to bear for that.  I can't be there tonight with the rest of the family, but our thoughts, prayers and love are with them all.
Nobby was a terrific uncle and a fine man -- always very close to my Mum & Dad and to the four Clarke boys throughout our lives. 

Behind me, as I write this, is the beautiful side table Nobby made for my wife and I as a wedding gift.  He had a rare genius of eye and hand -- turning simple chunks of wood into extraordinary, glowing objects; each with its own unique character, but each characteristically a "Nobby Clarke".  My early memories of Nobby and the big old house in Silverdale Avenue, Southend, are filled with the scent of sawdust and linseed oil. 

A true craftsman and an old-fashioned gentleman - always dapper, unfailingly polite, and one of those rare people with the wonderful, natural talent of always making you feel that he was genuinely interested in what you had to say - no matter how young you were or how silly your ideas.

Throughout his life, Nobby suffered great tragedy, hardship, ill treatment and just plain bloody bad luck.  At times it really seemed like Nobby and his family were as playthings to the gods -- no one family should have to bear what Nobby, Clare and their kids endured. Yet he took all of it in his stride -- a quiet rock and immutable foundation for his own family and others. You always knew where you were with Nobby, and you could always, always count on him.

He was - is - a Clarke.  And one of the best there ever was.

I wish I could be with them in Southend right now; to join in celebrating a noble, well-lived life.

Goodnight Nobby, and God bless.