Remembering Phil Badcock (49-58G)
Rod Boyce (52-60G) shares his memories of a dearly missed friend..
I grew up in Seaton just a couple of hundred yards away from where Phil lived above Central Garage which his father owned and where he sold Standard Cars. Do you remember when we all our cars were made in Britain? Phil was a little older than me, which lent him an added aura. The Badcock brothers owned a large ex RAF inflatable rescue dingy that had been carried in Second World War bombers. The garage compressed air was useful for inflating it and with three on each side we would walk it down Fore Street filling the entire road to spend hours at the beach. Phil was a good swimmer and would return to the beach to swim daily when he came back to Seaton in his early 50s.
Like his brothers he went off to boarding school at West Buckland in a remote spot on the fringes of Exmoor in North Devon. Apart from lessons there was nothing to do other than sport in which all the Badcock brothers excelled. Sometimes, if there was room in the car, I got a lift with them back to school, when term began.
I remember one little incident, during a school summer holiday, with fondness. Phil and I had managed to attract the attention of a couple of girls staying at the holiday camp in Seaton. They mostly came from London and seemed somewhat sophisticated compared to us country boys. We were sitting with them in the shelter on the West Walk just as it was getting dark. I was fairly terrified, feeling out of my depth compared to Phil, who seemed to know about these matters. I was saved from further embarrassment when we were suddenly dazzled by a car’s headlights. It was Phil’s Dad, who enquired what we were doing not waiting or wanting a reply. His instruction to get home immediately was followed with considerable alacrity.
At West Buckland School, which had been founded by the local aristocrat, Earl Fortescue in the mid 19th century. The main hall was lined with wooden honours boards listing names of old boys who had, like Phil’s brother Paul, gone to Dartmouth, Sandhurst or Cranwell for officer training or to university (at the time only 6% of 18 year olds went to university so it was quite an achievement). The most exclusive board listed those who had won a Fortescue Medal. Within a ten year period there would only be three or four names, it was a rare honour. The name of Philip Badcock appears on that board for the year 1958. To get one you had to have had an exceptional school career, good academically but above all excelling as a sporting all rounder. Phil was Head of his House, in every school first team, tennis, athletics but most particularly cricket, where he was a stylish number 3 batsman and rugby as the play making fly half.
When Phil was in the Upper Sixth, tragedy struck his family. His middle brother, Peter, was killed whilst on National Service in Kenya, within a few months of leaving school. Then within a very short time his cousin, Robin, was also killed in a flying accident at Cranwell, whilst training to become a RAF pilot. As my father had been killed whilst serving in the navy in the Second World War I understood his pain.
When I followed Phil to Hull University he kindly showed me the ropes. I have good memories of our time together working as barmen at the Harbour Inn, at Axmouth during summer vacations. It was at Hull where he met Margaret who was to become his wife and mother of his three sons. As an American at Hull, intelligent, attractive and the owner of a car, something quite exceptional for a student then, Margaret did not go without notice. One day Phil said to me, she doesn’t know it yet but I am going to marry that girl. So he did and went off to America for the next thirty years.
When he returned Phil became a big part of my family’s life. For a short while he joined Lyme Regis Golf Club but tennis was his real love. He was a very regular player at Seaton Cricket and Tennis Club, a place where we had had much fun as boys. It was at this time that Phil proved to be a very caring and helpful son to his mother, Beryl, who lived to a very great age. He regularly joined in our Christmas and birthday celebrations, he shared the same birthday as my eldest son in law. His cowboy boots, red tartan jacket and chunky gold Rolex made a lasting impression. It is a fitting tribute when I say that our three girls, and their children all thought Phil as one of the family and were equally sad when he became frail and ill. But it is not that, that I want to remember. Or to be saddened that he is no longer here. Death is the only certainty of life, it is the living of that life that matters and Phil knew how to live. I will remember him with great fondness and affection. ‘Bye Phil.