Derek James Thomas Kennedy
25th May 1935 – 17th December 2015
Derek was the sort of grandfather that only a man who loved books could be. He had a huge imagination and a lot of time to explore it and as both a storyteller and a conspirator, he was the best possible type of grandparent.
In the Nineties and Noughties the next generation of little Kennedys was born. Alyson and Ian had Ben in 1993 and a year later, Sara had Tilly. Next came the second round of Kennedys, when Corinne and Maybelle were born to Jeff and Kirstie in 2005 and 2009 respectively. The family gained another ‘youngling’ when Neil moved to Scotland in 2010 to be with Fiona and Douglas joined the family by default.
In 1995 with his health failing even more, Derek was admitted to Southampton General Hospital for what was, at the time, pioneering surgery – a triple heart bypass. This is perhaps when Tilly and Derek forged their special bond; Tilly, not yet one, had started to take her first faltering steps. When her granddad got home after surgery they would together totter down the long garden path supporting each other, Tilly mastering the art of walking and Derek doing the exercise essential to his recovery.
He took great delight in the achievements of his children, Neil, Jeff and Sara and his grandchildren, Ben, Tilly, Corinne and Maybelle, as well as Alyson and Ivan who we had made contact with again and it was great that we could all come together on a glorious day in May 2015 to celebrate his 80th birthday.
Derek had an amazingly varied working life but when it came to his leisure pursuits he also had very wide-ranging tastes.
Derek loved science fiction and built up a collection of books and magazines dating back to the early Fifties, spending hours reading his favourite authors. He loved classical music and music hall, but also Status Quo (you don’t get much more eclectic than that, do you?) Joyce Grenfell, Spike Milligan and The Goons….
As a participant it was darts, but as a spectator he was, I suppose you would say, a lapsed West Ham man. In his youth he’d been a keen supporter of the team, having a season ticket and going along with his family to their matches. Then in adult life when he moved away he was an armchair supporter of their important games. In 2013 Tilly accompanied him on a visit she’d organised for him to the Hammers’ stadium at Upton Park
You would have thought that someone who had travelled so much for work would just want to sit at home and vegetate when he had the chance but that wasn’t the case with Derek. He and Mary enjoyed their holidays, particularly the trips to Italy, first by plane and later, more sedately by coach.