OUR FEATURED MEMBER – DEREK FORD
Thanks to Norman Burchfell for putting together this ‘life story’. Our subject this time is : Derek Ford
Born in 1941 Derek Ford was too young for evacuation from war-torn London. However he did survive a doodlebug hitting the roof of his Morden house in 1944 – he luckily was tucked up in bed in the Anderson shelter half way down the back garden. In his younger years he attended local primary and secondary schools before transferring to technical college at age 13 which proved an excellent grounding for his later career.
From an early age Derek just loved any sport playing Rugby, Soccer and Cricket during and after school time and college hours. He was also a mean 440 yard and cross-country runner – hard to believe seeing his portly figure today. School holidays and all day Saturdays were always spent in the company of his grandfather – with whom he had a fantastic relationship – in his watchmaker and jewellery shop in Battersea Bridge Road. The shop being only a stone’s throw from Chelsea football ground Derek soon became an avid supporter which remains to this day.
In 1958 Derek gained an engineering apprenticeship with Foster Transformers, a company manufacturing transformers, welding equipment and switchgear and it was not long before he became a design draughtsman for the company. This was followed by joining Kartrek, a small company based in Eastleigh manufacturing switchgear. As Derek’s mother was living in Bognor he moved in with her and commuted daily by the company car provided. He has remained a Bognor resident ever since. The unit was closed after 5 years and by that time he had been overseeing all switchgear and control panel design as well as acting as Works Manager. Derek was soon in employment again joining Weir Electronics – a local Bognor company where he remained for 15 years as Works Manager. He was 58 years old when the company was run down over a 12 month period and finally closed. Derek took his redundancy package and has enjoyed a well-earned retirement ever since. After an unsuccessful marriage Derek has had a happy relationship with Christina (Chris) since 1982 and has much enjoyed being Grandad to Libby, Finley and Ewen. Since coming to Bognor he has been a staunch supporter of the town’s football club and has seen the team progress from the Sussex County League to where they are today at the top of the Ryman league.
Derek’s bowling career started as early as 1980. Whilst trying a rollup at Swansea Gardens (Pagham’s green) he was spotted by a renowned local bowler Ted Gregg. Seeing his potential Ted gave him many coaching lessons resulting in only two years later him winning both Pagham’s singles and handicap singles competitions. After leaving Pagham Derek bowled for many years for Hotham Bowling Club before joining Bognor Bowling Club some 5 years ago.
Arun Indoor Bowling Club opened its doors on 26th November 1983. Derek joined as a founder member taking out a £250 life membership. What a result – he must have saved himself many hundreds of pounds in membership fees by now! He was picked to play in the first game – a commemorative match against the Sussex County Indoor Bowls Association.
Regretfully he is now the only one still alive from the Arun team that played that day. Playing for Arun he came up against some household names. At the All – England finals in 1984 Derek’s rink reached the last 8 – beating David Bryant’s rink on the way. In the 1985 nationals Derek’s rink lost by only 2 to a rink containing Andy Thompson, who at that time were the fours national champions. For the County he has played in both the Liberty Trophy and the Middleton Cup in the 80’s and 90’s.
2017 will be Derek’s 13th Tour with the West Sussex Tourists – the rest of the so-called Bognor Mafia joining in his footsteps. On tour a favoured few are able to hold their substantial drinking funds in the exclusive Pink Purse of which Derek is the custodian.
So if on the bowling green you come across a fairly rotund gentleman sporting a Chelsea cap with a great sense of humour and having a contagious laugh he is likely to be our ‘ Fordie’ DEREK FORD.