DAD’S LIFE IN GREAT WOLFORD
Written by his son, Stephen Lax.
“When Mum and Dad moved 50 years ago from urban Leicester to very-much-not-urban Great Wolford, with three young children, building work on the house far from finished and a garden completely overgrown, more than once they must have thought ‘what have we done’! But from the outset they settled into the village and rural life. So, imagine the excitement this seven-year-old felt when a real tractor came through the gates at the bottom of the garden, driven by Max Shurmer from up the road, who was about to embark on some serious landscaping.
They were perfectly placed to witness the comings and goings in the village. Living where they did, right in the village centre opposite the shop and post office (when it was there) and the phone box – in the days when the phone box had a phone in it – they kept up to date about who had moved in, who had moved out. Right to the end, we’d come to visit Dad and point to someone passing the house. ‘Who’s that, and what can you tell us about them?’ we’d ask (or words to that effect) – and there was always something, some story (which may or may not have been accurate, of course).
They were lucky to live somewhere where pretty much everyone knew everyone else and people would look out for each other, helping out wherever they could. And over the years – decades actually – Dad and Mum got to know so many people and really did feel at home here. Mum was parish clerk for a while and school secretary; Dad mowed the village green now and again. They also donated the tree that sits on the green now. They were ahead of the game when it came to ‘shop locally’: as well as miscellaneous tractor services, plumbing, electrical services, even furniture came from Great Wolford!
So many people over the years … I know I shouldn’t single anyone out, but I’m going to. Particularly in his later years, there were a number of friends and neighbours who were so helpful to Dad in all sorts of ways: Sarah, Janette, always helping out when needed; Jo, who literally brought a sparkle back to the house Dad designed and was proud of; and Andrew, who helped Dad keep his garden alive and develop new ideas for it.
And then, of course, next-door neighbour Glen. Glen would pop in all the time, would provide him with the latest village news, and generally be such a good friend. As children, we think we know better than our parents; parents, of course, know that this simply isn’t the case. Well, particularly in Dad’s latter years, we as children would offer what we thought was helpful advice or make useful suggestions, only to be met with an amused indifference. He was, of course, fiercely independent. However, now and again we’d be visiting and something had changed – either a new ‘thing’ in the house or a new way of doing something. ‘Oh yes,’ he’d tell us, ‘Glen thought that was a good idea.’ Oh, OK. We realised of course that if we did have something to suggest to him, we’d speak to Glen and get her to offer it to him first. That worked, maybe, just once or twice!
Dad didn’t take these friendships for granted. Having lived a half-century here, for him Great Wolford was a special place where people genuinely care about each other. Long may it endure.”