Neville John William Day 7 March 1922 - 26 November 1990
Neville Day The early years
Neville’s first job at the age of 16 was as a trainee mechanic at Sharpe’s Garage, Wisbech. Where at least he picked up skills which held him in good stead for the rest of his life. Empirical or practical skills rather than academic. What happened whereby he left Sharpe’s after only a few months to join a group of apprentices at the substantial farm estate of the Bagge family in Tilney St Lawrence, is lost in the annals of history though ‘Dad’ (as both author and Stepson I shall frequently refer to Neville Day as Dad from now on) always spoke fondly of his time, both at Sharpe’s and at Bagge's farm estate. I suspect though that Dad’s Father John Day, a kindly yet staunchly proper and successful local businessman, may have played some role. More upon this later though as John Day’s ability to enhance the fortunes of others would also be worthy of recording. Sadly though my knowledge of John Day, a man I also greatly admired, would nonetheless be insufficient to do a proper account of the man justice.
Before the Second World War Dad was a keen and successful Fen Speed Skater. 'Round the Barrels'.
Speed skating once a highly competitive winter sport on the numerous frozen Cambridgeshire lakes and Fenland drainage canals.
Dad's long, actually extraordinarily long, Norwegian style skates used to hang on a nail at the end of his garage well into the early 1960s. Perhaps in the forlorn hope he would one day don them again. Sadly it never happened. A few trophy cups and medals were once proudly displayed in the family 'silverware' cabinet. Where the skates and medals all are now, who knows?
To my mind though, having experienced the magnificence of Fenland, as quite apparent in this photograph, I say anyone not moved by it has no soul! The Fens
has a unique charm all of its own and as a family we were always loyal to Fenland. Times might have been hard on occasions but there was also an abundance of
Neville Day was married on 1 June 1942 at Islington-cum-Tilney Parish Church, near King's Lynn, Norfolk to a woman by the name of Mary Kathleen Garner. She bore him two sons, first Robin on 5th March 1943 and a couple of years later David.
Islington church fared no better than Neville Day's marriage and was abandoned to eventually end up as a ruin, sometime in the early 1970s.
Village rumormongers would describe how Mary signalled her 'availability' to her lover through an intricate shifting of road facing upstairs window curtains, whilst Neville was toiling away in the farthest fields. Mary left Neville in June 1950 and Neville filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion three years later. Without benefit of state sponsored, misandrist thuggery of the current, grossly misdescribed 'Family Court' system, the couples' presumably 78RPM record collection etc., along with the family were equally divided. Mary retained David whilst Neville was granted both care and custody of Robin. Left to soldier on working the soil, attending to the needs of a young son, and later taking on post war duties of housing a pair of German POWs.
Neville Day never saw his youngest son again.
Post Script: Neville Day's youngest son had been brought up under the surname of his adoptive Stepfather. Poignantly, and honourably, although having no contact with his biological Father following the separation David nonetheless turned up at Neville Day's funeral. David was so emotionally affected and impressed by the sheer number of sympathisers at the funeral, and of their admiration for his real Father, that he decided he wished to revert his surname to that of Day. He first asked for our family's permission to do so. Naturally we unanimously agreed.
Enter Neville's Father, (see:) John Day. A robust yet kind and amiable character, a successful Scottish Seed Potato salesman and respected trader. Staunch Victorian standards and morals and living in a relatively spacious, newly built and architect designed property in a wealthy corner of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. The town aptly describing itself as Capital of the Fens. More in defiance than deference to the little city of Ely twenty five miles south.
The disaster of Neville's first marriage must have been a bitter blow to his Father John and Mother Ivy. The Day family were now also thrown into a family crisis. Neville's Mother had nearly died during Neville's childbirth and was left physically weak due to a severely and irreparably damaged heart. Requiring extensive care herself for the remainder of her life. She was therefore in no position to help Neville very much with care of their young grandson Robin.
Chris Latham-Smith 2022.
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