Derek James Thomas Kennedy
25th May 1935 – 17th December 2015
Back to the mid-sixties, which found Derek living on his own in Baker Street and working as a reporter for a local newspaper. It was around this time that Mary came into his life. He met her at the Lyceum Dance hall in London, no doubt impressing her with the flashy dance moves he’d learnt when accompanying his sister Molly to the weekly dances.
By now he had moved to take up the position of editor at the “Style for Men” magazine and he obviously read what his publication wrote because he had the style to sweep Mary off the dance floor and into his arms and his life.
Already parents to Neil, Derek and Mary married in November 1968, with Jeff coming along the following year and then having quite a long breather before Sara’s birth six years later.
Derek and Mary lived with their young family in London and jointly helped to run the PTA’s at various schools which the children attended; this involved putting on fete’s and festivals and at the school in Muswell Hill introducing the concept of play schemes during the long summer holidays.
As Derek and his waistline matured he took up another sport, one which didn’t require jumping over bars and risking life and limb in a sandpit. In fact this sort of sport allowed him to have a drink or two whilst making his moves. Derek became a very able darts player, playing for and later running his own teams. In London he ran the Holborn Darts Festival, an annual tournament between different pubs, some of which had pretty scrubby dartboards. So organised was Derek that he used to carry his own dartboard around in order that they all played on a good board. On one occasion he even played against the renowned Bobby George And damn near beat him!
Just as Derek’s journalistic career saw him travelling all over the place the Kennedy’s certainly lived a nomadic existence….!
Plaistow – Abertillery – Cambridge – Forest Gate – Baker Street – Archway – Muswell Hill – Orpington – Bath – Peasedown St John – Camerton – back to Peasdown – Midsomer Norton. These were just some of the places where Derek lived; this man and his family certainly got around!
In 1978 Derek got a great job opportunity with Sam Weller Associates which saw the family moving to Bath, in and around which they’ve lived ever since.
And now in Bath, Derek knew how to make friends quickly. Once again he got involved in a bit of heavy lifting in the local pubs, starting up some local darts teams and organising tournaments.
Derek suffered his first heart attack in 1985 and thus began the health problems which were to plague him for the remainder of his life. He was forced to retire from journalism as the demands of the job were too great and he and Mary bought a grocery shop in Peasedown St John. During this time Derek became very involved in the local community helping to found the Peasedown St John Community Association (http://www.beaconhall.org.uk/index.html) and working towards the building of the local community hall.
He became the secretary of the Community Association, handling the day to day running of the community hall, a position which he thoroughly enjoyed and took very seriously. The local community appreciated his dedication to the job and he became a well-known local figure even getting an article published about him in the Somerset Guardian.
Every Christmas, with his white beard freshly trimmed for the occasion, Derek would play Father Christmas for the Community Association Christmas parties, a role he relished every year.