This is a copy of the tribute Jim paid to Nick at his funeral on the 19th December 2011
Tribute to Dad – Nick Sibcy – 1945 - 2011
However you knew him: Nick, Dad, Grumps or Captain, he always made an impression! He always brightened up the room and made everyone smile with his laughter, his charm and his infectious sense of humour.
Dad would never be conventional or politically correct and although he had many challenges and darker periods in his life, he kept his spirit, he kept his sense of fun and his love for his family and friends kept on growing.
Born in 1945 to Frederick and Ella Sibcy, Dad was the younger of two boys, his elder brother Ant, being born just 14 months before. They lived in Harrow in North West London and both his parents were teachers.
In 1953, Dad went to Orley Farm, a Prep School near to Harrow School. Here he particularly excelled in sport and woodwork. He specifically remembered one parents’ cricket match where his father was playing against him and Ant. Ant was bowling, Dad was keeping wicket and his father was batting. Ant produced a demon delivery that his farther edged behind for a catch. The score book read: ‘Sibcy, caught Sibcy, Bowled Sibcy’, a result unlikely to ever be repeated!
In 1958, he then moved on to Haileybury College, where he developed as an all rounder becoming the only boy to receive his School colours in his first year. This was for boxing, at which he remained the School Champion (I understand this is something his great nephew Otis is keen to emulate!). He later became head boy, and captain of cricket as well as playing in the first XV rugby team. One of his highlights was playing and captaining the annual cricket match at Lords where he scored the highest number of runs in the match. He also remembered showing the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh around the school for its bicentenary in 1963.
During his early years at Haileybury, he joined the Naval section of the CCF and this started his interest in the Navy as a career. The Family had gone on regular holidays to the Norfolk broads and Dad loved life on the water and was fascinated by boats. He took a naval scholarship while at Haileybury and was chosen from hundreds of applicants to win a scholarship that paid for his last two years’ school fees.
Dad also developed a love of cars and the practical side of building and maintaining them. He was self taught and spent many hours reading up on and carrying out alternations and repairs to his first car, an Austin 7. This was to be a great hobby in his life as he built and rebuilt a number of cars including three Lotus 7 kit cars. I had the pleasure to build one with him a few years ago and his engineering skills were truly amazing.
Dad joined Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth in 1964 as an Officer Cadet. He again excelled during his basic training and loved doing his fleet time on HMS Scarborough and then advanced training aboard HMS Ark Royal. He passed out in 1966 and was reported at fleet board as being a high flyer in his pier group and one to watch – as it happened in more ways than one - he managed to marry the Captain’s daughter and was made exceptionally happy when his first son Adam arrived!
As a result of health issues, Dad left the Navy, and started on a career in Sales and Business Management that started in the timber business and then progressed to the oil and the commercial diving industry. He spent several years in Aberdeen, working to secure lucrative rig maintenance and installation contracts from some of the well know oil companies.
Whilst in Aberdeen, Dad first got the bug for house renovation and building. Dad and Mum had bought an old Scottish Bothey with some adjacent outbuildings. They renovated the house and barns with the skill and attention to detail that would define all of Dad’s practical projects throughout his life.
After deciding a change was necessary, Dad moved the family back down to Worcestershire after finding a new renovation project, a timber framed farm house called Little Yarhampton, in Astley Near Stouport. The house was basically a collapsed shell and required extensive structural and remedial building works. Dad painstakingly went about rebuilding the house with help from Mum and a couple of tradesmen. The result was a magnificent tudor black and white house that Adam , Emma and I all have strong and fond memories of.
Dad had various other jobs and vocations throughout his life, most with the emphasis on helping other people. He worked with socially deprived children in Leominster, at a special needs school in Cornwall and took deprived children sailing on his yacht, Eleanor.
Dad owned and loved his classic wooden yacht Eleanor of Poole for over 20 years. He moored her in Mylor, near Falmouth and spent around 6 months a year living on her. Some of this time was ashore carrying out the endless varnishing and painting before normally launching her in the Spring in immaculate condition. On occasional years, much to the amusement of his sailing friends, Simon and Andy, he would be too much of a perfectionist and just manage to get her in the water at the end of the summer when most of the good sailing was done!
Dad spent many happy summers sailing along the south coast, to the channel islands and to France. We will always remember those holidays. Dad happy, tanned, wearing his bright red shorts with a can of cheap larger in his hand. He was an excellent sailor and Captain. He knew what to in every situation. I remember him reefing the sails when a storm blew up out of nowhere and I remember him getting us home safe after bumping along the coast in thick fog while using the sounds of the waves on the rocks and the sound of the bells on the buoys to navigate.
The boat was a massive part of Dad’s life and although it was sad to give her up, it gave him much pleasure to learn of her new owners plan to sail her up to Oslo and then on to Greenland to retrace the steps of a previous explorer.
There are two stories that I think sum up Dad’s empathy towards those less fortunate than himself:
The first was when he came to watch me in a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1995. Having got the bus up with a rucksack full of clothes and a sleeping bag, He walked the streets of Edinburgh looking for a place to stay. Having made conversation with some of the homeless people on the streets, he decided to stay with them to experience sleeping rough. He slept in the relatively warm cash machine hall of Lloyds Bank. Having been moved by their stories and sympathetic to their cause, He decided to give them all his clothes (other than the ones he was wearing!) the little cash he had and his sleeping bag. He then hitch-hiked the 600+ miles back home. He then filled another two bin liners full of clothes and caught the bus back up to deliver these to the guys in person. Not many people would do that.
The second story involves a chap called Andy who Dad met on the streets of Truro selling the big issue. Dad regularly purchased his magazine, bought him a sandwich and stopped to chat to him about his life. Andy had had problems at home and had run away. He had also turned to drink and drugs. Dad offered him a job in a charity he was setting up and helped him get a council house. He also encouraged Andy to take up his former trade as a tiller. Within a year Andy had a roof over his head, had met a girl and was expecting twin boys. When we moved to the West Country, Andy came up from Truro and did the tilling in our new house. The workmanship was superb. Before he left, he told me what a difference Dad had made to his life and how he would always be grateful that someone believed in him and encouraged him to do what he had done.
Dad’s recent life was all been about Family:
In 2005 Dad moved up to Worcester to be near Emma and her growing family and then followed them to Warwick when Emma and Mike moved to Warwick School in 2006.
Dad adored his grand children, Eleanor, Jake, Lottie, Tommy and Rosie and was affectionately known by all of them as GRUMPS. Each time he arrived he would proclaim in his best showbiz voice – ‘It’s Grumpsy’.
It was one Sunday here at St Nicholas’ Church that Dad first met Ann whilst she was giving out hymn books. Across the pew they made increasing eye contact and Dad made sure they bumped in to each other fairly regularly in the street. Surprisingly, Ann was attracted to his bright red shorts and the knee high stripey socks. They had a wonderful four years of marriage with many laughs, lots of love and many visits to family and friends. Ann provided Dad with the most settled and happiest of years, for which we thank her deeply. Dad also grew to really love Ann’s six children and their families and it has also been nice for us to get to know them.
Although these last few months have been tough, it has also brought many positives to all our lives. We spent many hours talking to Dad about our family and his life. We have laughed a lot, we have cried a lot and most importantly as a family, we have become closer.
We must especially thank the doctors and nurses at Warwick Hospital, the Macmillan Nurses and for the final few weeks all the staff at the amazing Myton Hospice. They have, without exception been remarkable careers both for Dad and our family. Many of them built up a strong relationship with Dad as his charm and infectious personality was apparent to the end. We have already started planning a sponsored walk in aid of the Myton Hospice that will go through Devon and Cornwall and end up at Mylor where we will scatter Dad’s ashes at sea.
Dad faced his illness with a remarkable degree of courage, dignity and acceptance. He said all the things he wanted to say, he made peace with any troubles he had had and he helped us all deal with the inevitable by showering us with love, hugs and kisses.
To finish, I have written a short poem that we think sums it all up!
You’ve slipped away like a ship in the night,
For a voyage of discovery to an eternal light.
You have hoisted the mainsail, you’ve trimmed on a reach,
As a life full of memories wave from the beach.
Ever the perfectionist, you’ve planned well ahead,
Your Port and your Starboard are flashing green and red.
You know where you are going, no use for a chart,
Your passage mapped out, a new chapter to start.
We’ll remember the laughter, the games and the fun,
The messing around on the boat in the sun.
We’ll remember your dress sense, those shorts and those socks,
Your thick Aaron jumpers and your mariner’s smocks.
We’ll remember your happiest years at the end,
You had reached true contentment and become a real friend.
Your love for your Grandchildren, who all call you ‘Grumps’,
And your excitement at feeling the most recent of the bumps.
We’ll remember your courage and fight to the last
The dignity and politeness that set you apart.
Your hugs and your kisses will live on and on,
Your family all closer, your legacy strong.
We love You, we miss You, what more can we say
Until you welcome us again, on board, some day.