I have known Vic since our school days at the Royal Alexandra School. My mother living in Manchester and working in ammunitions could only visit my sister Mona and me once a year in the summer spending her annual holiday locally or in Reading. In the mid-forties she got talking to Mrs Keleher in London when travelling on a bus from Reading to Bishpswood camp on their daily visits. Auntie Keleher, as we came to call her, offered to visit us on her monthly visits. I’m not sure how Vic viewed the visiting arrangements but he tolerated it with good grace and thereafter our two families remained in close contact. Vic left school before my sister and me but his mother continued her monthly visits right up to our leaving school.
On leaving school Vic followed in his father’s footsteps and joined Scotland Yard Police Force, rising up the ranks to eventually taking charge of the Drug Squad. During this period he did his national service with the Royal Air Force Police. On retiring from Scotland Yard he was head-hunted by an American fraud investigation firm. This employment necessitated travelling not only in this country but worldwide. Pam his wife often accompanied him. Being the friendly outgoing person he was he formed friendships in his work and holiday travels enjoying hospitality provided by friends in various countries. Pam and Vic were eager and happy to return hospitality and provide entertainment for friends visiting this country from abroad. He also visited Australia and New Zealand on at least two occasions, tracking down and visiting members of his father’s family.
Not long after leaving school Vic met up with and befriended another old scholar Jimmy Rayner, who more or less became a member of the Keleher family. Through Vic I met up with Jimmy on a few occasions. Jim retired to Spain and Vic and Pam enjoyed holidays in Spain staying with Jim and his partner. Vic also enjoyed making contact with other old scholars and he served some time on the Gatton Association Committee. He was a great gardener and he enjoyed swapping information and exchanging cuttings and plants. Life was very full in the summer time bowling season, being an active member of his local bowling club. He was also a member of the RAF Police Association and a year or two ago he marched past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day.
Vic and Pam had a long and happy marriage, raising three successful daughters of whom he was justly proud. He was also extremely proud of his grandchildren and this year welcomed a great grandchild and he loved to impart information about them. Vic was godfather to one of Mona’s daughters.
Over the years we visited each other’s homes. Pam and Vic travelling to our Manchester home and we to Uxbridge and subsequently to Exeter, where we were always treated with utmost warmth and generous hospitality. In between visits we chatted on the telephone, Vic giving us information about school activities and old scholars.
The past year has been traumatic for Pam and Vic. Stomach cancer was diagnosed, an operation was not successful and chemotherapy was prescribed. Not a comfortable procedure but born with fortitude and positive attitude. Mona and I flew down to Exeter for a three day visit in September. Vic insisted that we stayed with them. He drove to the airport to meet us and back again when we left. He took us out for pleasant day and treated us to an evening meal. I was agreeably surprised at how well he looked and his positive attitude. Deep down I knew that things were not good; however, in October and with the blessing of the doctors, Vic and Pam managed a Spanish holiday staying with Jim’s Partner. Vic enjoyed a great family gathering at Christmas and was all set for another holiday in Spain in February. Alas a few days before travelling his condition worsened. He remained at home in the care of his devoted wife supported by their daughters and what sounds like excellent NHS care, local Social Services and Voluntary Services before passing away on Sunday 10th April 2016.
Vic’s family and friends are going to miss him very much but we have some very happy memories to look back on now and in the future. I am grateful to the Royal Alexandra School for giving me a brother. I admired his “get up and go” positive attitude to life and I valued his friendship. I am grateful for his generosity.
May you rest in peace Vic.
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