Eric Leslie Wade – born at Bradford upon Avon 07.11.1939, died at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford on 23.11.2018.
Rik, as he preferred to be called, was born in Bradford upon Avon as his mother, Lucy and her elder son, Peter, had been evacuated from Barking, together with Lucy’s elderly mother and her sister, Lily and her son Reg. When Lucy returned to Barking to be with her husband towards the end of the war her sons Rik and Peter were left in the care of her mother and sister. Rik started school in Trowbridge and he and Peter became inseparable. They moved to Barking when Lucy became pregnant and as the war was nearly over and Christmas coming they thought it would be safe. Peter was a choirboy and on this Sunday he was to sing in the choir – very sadly the Church in Barking took a direct hit from the bomb dropped by the German plane flying overhead. Peter was killed and life for Rik collapsed. His constant companion gone he became a solitary figure. Lucy was busy with her grief, and her new baby, with yet another baby on the way before the year was out and had little time for Rik. Those days I do not think they realised the extent of this little boy’s suffering.
Throughout his life Rik much preferred his own company and took his pleasure in the natural world of flora and fauna. They never hurt him and gave him great pleasure throughout his life.
In his life he wrote a great deal of poetry mainly about his regret for the growing loss of the natural environment, but covering all kinds of subjects many humorous, many quite sad. Several of his poems have been published and those who have read his works always comment on the man they may never have met but always, through his poetry, feel that they know him!
He married Valerie in 1962 and had a son, Greg and two daughters Sara and Carolyn. They lived in Braintree for 43 years, where his wife and son still live. His daughter Carolyn lives in Cambridge and Sara lives in Nashville, Tennessee. His work in a Centre for the treatment of young offenders who had been sentenced but were too young for adult prisons lasted until 1995, when the centre was closed down and he was retired.
In the 1980s Rik and Valerie rented a piece of land adjacent to their home which they used to establish a wildlife area, complete with a large pond, often visited by mallards, together with grass snakes, slow worms, bats and many species of bird. All plants here were British native species, including bee orchids, as were the many species of fish in the pond. It was a labour of love rewarded with many hours of pleasure.
Rik’s health deteriorated and in 2015, when he was in the Heart Ward at Broomfield, Greenfields said that the area had to be cleared as they were now going to build on it. Three months were given for this to be done which included rehoming the fish from the pond. Without the generous help given by Julien Courtauld we would have found it impossible to house the many British species of fish all now enjoying life in new waters.
Rik never recovered from this blow and with the loss of over 30 years of his life’s work, his health continued to deteriorate and after many years which he bore with great stoicism he eventually died at Broomfield on 23rd November 2018.
He is greatly missed by his wife and family. Rik was a kind, gentle man who cared a great deal for the local environment and the diminishing flora and fauna he loved so much and will be remembered always.
The attached photograph was taken on the castle mound at Clare Country Park and was probably the last time he managed to get about much without his wheelchair so is rather special to me.
I want to say thank you for allowing me to plant the Malus in the wildlife area at the Public Gardens – It would have been something he would have wanted if he were still with me.
With kind regards, Valerie Wade