This is a copy of my memories of my friend, given at the Service of Thanksgiving for his life in Birkenhead, near Liverpool on Tuesday 26th May 2015. I shared these memories with the family – a family we did not know at the time – but who have now become our dear friends.
We have travelled 216 miles to be with you today and need to travel 216 miles back home later but today miles mean nothing, it’s a privilege to be with you all as we celebrate my friend Mick’s life. Last week we were in Spain and I would have travelled back from there if I it meant I could be with you all on this special day. Mick was our friend. We loved him dearly!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak about this lovely man.
Mick and I met sometime in the 1980s I guess, when Mick came with a friend called Clive Williams to run Open Air Mission beach meetings on Barry Island beach in The Vale of Glamorgan. Mick and Clive made a superb double act. Different as chalk and cheese but men who shared a common desire to share the Christian message with anyone they could. After experiencing trouble in Barry, where their vans were stoned and broken into, they parked their caravans on our church car park at Bethesda Chapel in Dinas Powys. My wife Jean and I were Youth Leaders at the time and we became very friendly and a friendship soon grew with the young people and us and it led to Mick spending a lot of time in our home.
Mick and I too, were very different in many ways, but that only sought to bring us close. Mick was my spiritual father and taught me so much about life and living life as a Christian. We spent many hours talking about Christian things. He was just a wonderful man. I loved to hear him preach and Jean and I, and anyone else who was around, used to sit enthralled, as he would tell us stories about his work with the Open Air Mission, especially his escapades with his dear old friend Clive. The story of Clive’s visit to a hospital with gallstones is forever etched on our memories. Clive, in desperate pain, struggling with a hospital gown, putting it on the wrong way around and Mick struggling to protect Clive’s modesty, while comforting and encoring his old friend. I still giggle every time the story comes to my mind. He shared with us many anecdotes, like the ones about being made to listen to Clive’s LP records of steam train sound effects and bird songs. Visits to the famous Dai Woodham train scrapyard in Barry were a must for Clive every year and Mick always tagged along.
Even after he retired he would often drive down to spend time in our home. We loved him and the whole church loved him. He even spent holidays with us when he could. When we were in Craven Arms, Tewkesbury and Dulverton in Devon and many other places, he joined us and we spent happy times together.
I think he loved us in South Wales. We certainly loved him.
One special memory I have is about an old Bible. During one visit to us in the early nineties Mick was admiring my new loose leaf Bible, he said he had been looking for one like it for ages. As he was leaving at the end of the visit, I ran after him and gave him the Bible. At first he refused it, but eventually took it with him. During the years he had it, he used it well and we often spoke about it. Several months ago he gave it back to me. It’s one of my greatest treasures. I gave it to him brand new. He returned it battered and stuck with sellotape… and full of sermons! During the time he had it that Bible and the messages he preached will have touched many lives for good. I will NEVER give it away again!
We made many visits to see Mick and once joined him in Chester Market, where he had a stall selling Christian books, cards and stuff like that!
Mick with Kate.
In 1991 Mick came to us with an idea. He had recently got involved with a charity called Operation Christmas Child based in Wrexham. It took aid out to Romanian orphanages.
He wanted our church Young People’s Choir to come up to Wrexham and sing in a concert at the William Ashton Hall. We did it and had such a great time performing and meeting Mick’s family for the first time.
As far as I can see Mick only had one real bad flaw in his character. He was a Chelsea fan and my son Gaz and I would tease him endlessly about it. We tried hard over the years to convert him to supporting a proper team like Manchester United but we failed. Mick would have left us earlier this month happy that his beloved Blues were the champions! I will miss those happy times.
One thing for sure is that he loved his family. He spoke of you all constantly and I teased him all the time about the fact that he gave all his girls the same first name… Our Bev, Our Amanda and Our Marie.
To you, his family, daughters, sons in law, grandchildren… let me tell you this…you all meant the world to him. Every time I was with Mick he spoke affectionately and at length about you.
If I am honest I don’t think he ever really got over losing your mum, which, I believe, was a sadness he always carried with him. He loved her. He loved you all and spoke proudly of you and all the things you had done done. When Rebecca rang to tell us the sad news of Mick’s passing, it was as if we knew her.
Jean and I were so very grateful for the phone calls from Bev and Rebecca, when you let us know of Mick’s passing. I told Mick constantly that I was worried if any thing happened to him I would want to know. It always brought a chuckle from him. He said he would arrange it… and he did. Thank you so very much, although it was the phone call I always dreaded.
Mick meant so much to us in our family and in our church in South Wales. In the eyes of the world maybe just a simple man who had a tough start in life, but to us a true friend, a Christian brother and a truly great man.
Treasure your memories and always be proud of your dad. We will always love him and will certainly never forget him.
Talk about him often. Talk about him with each other and keep his memory alive. Always remember the love that he had for his children and grandchildren, the community and the poor times of his childhood. Remember the fun times and there were so many of these! The Bible tells us – there’s a time to mourn and a time to laugh. Remember his example.
Mick loved people, hence his work with the Open Air Mission and he had a way of drawing out the best from people.
He taught us all that no matter who you are or whatever hardship you face you are always able to GIVE and always able to LOVE.
Our biggest gift to him now is to be thankful that he is at peace and to seek to be as strong and courageous in our loss as he was in throughout his wonderful life.
Let us promise that the good Mick showed to us in his life, we will now show to others and keep his memory alive!
A few friends from South Wales have sent their love and best wishes.
Llinos and Graeme Burt
I’ll never forget helping at Barry Beach Mission with Mick. He was such a lively character. I’m grateful for the opportunity he gave us as 15/16 year olds to try new things. It was Mick who encouraged us to play Clive’s accordion. The kids loved him – even with his tattoos!
Jason and Kate Erickson
Mick was a great man of God, I always remember his passion for Jesus in life and in the beach missions he did with Clive! We spent many great holidays in Devon and Cornwall, often debating how much he disliked Man United lol 🙂
A rough and ready, tough looking, kindhearted man of God… I loved him!
Mick was such a lovely man. Still remember him putting a tattooed finger into my son Stephen’s mouth when he was about 4 weeks old to comfort him. Jean and I were looking at each other in horror, but knowing he meant no harm. I’m so saddened to hear the news but know heaven has now got an amazing character with the biggest heart xxx
Loved working with Mick as a teenager at the holiday clubs, so many memories of being on Barry Island beach and the caravan parked out the back of the church. Over the years Mick became a dear friend, who visited us on many of our group Easter holidays. Visited him once in Coedpoeth and we were touched that he had been out to buy us cakes and croissants for breakfast.
Gareth and Keri Newberry
Mick was brilliant and a great friend. We talked about anything, but especially we loved talking football. My favourite Mick saying? ‘He’s a lemon!… an absolute lemon!’ I loved his stories of his travels with his sidekick Clive Williams and the other stories of preaching in the tough parts of Liverpool and the time he got his car wheels nicked! Priceless!! He was a great friend to my dad and a great friend to me.
I loved it when Mick came to visit us. I was really young. I remember he slept in the downstairs bedroom and always got up early to read his Bible. He used to walk around with me standing on his feet. I really loved Mick – I will miss him.
I will always think of Mick and smile at the banter we used to have! I loved that full on mickey taking (no pun intended!) that you used to get with him and the fact that you always knew that he only did it because he liked you and enjoyed the challenge! I won’t go into the time that we visited him (Sharon refers to it!) and I had food poisoning from an Ogmore Vale custard slice…. Bad times
Ahhh…. Mick a great friend and a great character. Many happy memories of time spent with Mick in Dinas Powys.
Mark and Julie Thompson
We have spent so many happy times with Mick over the years. We especially enjoyed coming to Wrexham, where I conducted the choir. A great man with a great heart! Much missed. Our thoughts are with his family.
Mick was a true friend in every sense of the word. He shared our home, he shared our church and he shared our lives. He was funny, genuine and one of my very best friends. Rog and I adored him.
Only heard him speak once, but what a story. He’s in a better place now.
He is gone.
We can shed tears that Mick is gone
or we can smile because he has lived.
We can close our eyes and pray that he’ll come back
or we can open our eyes and see all that he’s left for us to remember.
Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see him
or they can be full of the love we shared together.
We can turn our back on tomorrow and live for yesterday
or we can be happy for tomorrow because of our yesterdays.
We can remember him and only that he’s gone
or we can cherish his memory and let it live on.
We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs
or we can do what Mick would want:
Open our eyes,
Love each other…
…and go on.
We attended Mick’s funeral, or better put the Thanksgiving service for his wonderful life and Tuesday 26th May 2016. The funeral was held in Landican Crematorium in Birkenhead.
The service was held in the beautiful South Chapel, which was such a lovely setting. Proceedings were led by Rob Jeffs a wonderful old man who sounded so like Mick when he spoke. He was superb! Friendly, funny and serious at different times, just when he needed to be, He put the family at ease and reminded us what an amazing character Mick was. The truth of Mick’s Christian faith shone through so clearly. It was a service which honoured God and helped us all give thanks for the wonderful life that Mick lived. Unlike any other crematorium I have ever visited, the service was relaxed and we never felt rushed. After the service we introduced ourselves to the family and instantly new friendships began.
The wake followed at The Basset Hound, nearby hostelry. This, too, was a lovely place, homely and friendly. We were given a private space where we shared stories of Mick. Mick’s family are wonderful and we saw immediately why he loved them so much.We had a beautiful time with Mick’s family and left with armloads of food from the buffet for our long journey home.
After leaving The Basset Hound, we made one last emotional journey to see Mick’s bungalow. Mick lived in Bethany Crescent in Bebington. This is a lovely crescent of bungalows built in 1927 by a chap called Archie Boulton.
The trust that was set up in his name is listed in the charity commission as
A H BOULTON TRUST
TO AID THE ERECTION AND MAINTENANCE OF BUILDINGS USED FOR THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL, RELIEVING THE SICK OR NEEDY OR OFFERING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUALS CONSIDERED TO BE DESERVING BY THE TRUSTEES
Mick was offered a home here because of his long commitment of preaching the Christian message which meant so much to him.
We looked in through the window of his bungalow, and it was as if he had just left. His old chair was there – empty now – and the picture Becky Thomson had drawn on one of the holidays Mick had been with us, was on the fireplace as it always was. His Chelsea picture was there too… We thought and talked about Mick, smiled a bit, shed a tear or two but above all else left happy because of this lovely man who had made such an impact on our lives.
Thank you Mick!