Neville John William Day 7 March 1922 - 26 November 1990
The Day I met Day
It's an odd thing, how people will retain memories for life of some auspicious event that occurred in infancy and yet, when that event occurred, there was nothing particularly noteworthy. Something, though, happens to sear and cement the image into the mind, forever.
Such was the day I met Day. That is, when I was three years old and first met Neville Day, the man whom two years later was to become my Stepfather.
I recall the event as if it were yesterday, though it was some time in late 1952, when at Wisbech railway station Mr Day scooped me up, and along with Barbara, my Mother, with her suitcase containing her entire life's worth at that time, took me to the middle of the lattice girder iron passenger bridge over the twin railway lines (at top right corner of photo below). Whereupon he showed us the two locomotives belching smoke and steam beneath us. I had never seen anything like it before, so I suppose that was auspicious enough.
Neville Day had arrived at the station to meet for the first time and collect his new housekeeper, my two and a half year earlier widowed Mother and with me in tow. Many years later I subsequently learned we had travelled up from our lodgings in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire by bus to London, across the city by Tube to King's Cross Station, on up to Peterborough and finally the branch line to Wisbech. A long day. Neville Day though turned my Mother's and my tragedy and catastrophe around.
At this point I feel compelled to mention that I am sure Dad was 'aided and abetted' by every member of his remarkably compassionate, generous and caring extended family. A family from which Dad must unquestionably have inherited his own exceptional social empathy. Memories from my childhood in every one of my adoptive families' homes are filled with visions of sumptuously laden tables, happy faces, laughter and kindness. With unconditional inclusion of both my Mother and me. Something I have to say, with the honorable exceptions of only my maternal Grandfather Harry Hopkins and my recently departed dear Uncle Michael Hopkins, was not always echoed by many of the rest of my own blood relatives.
the planes my Father flew. The occasional book of wartime exploits my late Father was involved in. Visits to Duxford and Bovingdon aerodromes from which my Father flew, for real! There
were always at least a couple of photographs of my late Father on display in my childhood home. That might not sound like much but it all meant one hell of a lot to my Mother and
to me. Even now bringing tears to my eyes as I recall Dad's compassion and sensitivity. Click for more
I will say, and I know my Mother always did say during her life, we were eternally grateful to Neville Day. In a world seemingly beset these days with so many sad stories of avarice, broken homes, deception and infidelity, I personally would like to celebrate the opposite in our experience. To let that be known to the world and importantly, who was responsible for providing for us, caring for us and for protecting us.
Chris Latham-Smith 2022.
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