Born 26 October 1925 -- Died 24 January 2009
"A Life Well Lived"
It's with deep sorrow that we have learnt of Mr Roy Bliss' death. He belongs to Longue history and the very beginning of our twinning.
Roy Bliss and his friend Robert Chatel have settled and signed its chart. A commemorative plaque near the library, and a bas-relief in St Wilfrids Square, are there to help everybody to remember that time. They had become true friends, and shared many happy moments. As the Chairman of the English Twinning Committee, he was very much concerned with the great quality of the visits organized: And also with his wife Pauline, he had worked a lot so that many young children from Frank Seely School could enjoy the trips to Longue, where they were hosted by young French children as well. The exchanges between the schools were very active, and with the scouts as well. Probably many people from Calverton remember that time very well. We'll always be grateful to him for what he did, especially for the children. These exchanges between the schools lasted for many years. Young English and French people could meet and learn to know each others. Some of them got married, as Andrew Bliss and Michele, his French wife. Last time we met in Longue he was still very much concerned with the exchanges between the schools.
We hope that he has known that new contacts have started again between the schools since last year. His devotion to the Twinning did credit to him.
Let the family be sure of our very sincere friendship, Jean-Noel Marionneau Chairman of the Longue Twinning Committee Conseiller Municipal France.
Below: Roy and Robert Chatel perform the official ceremony, twinning Calverton with the French district of Longue-Jumelles.
Walter Roy Bliss was born in Toton, Nottinghamshire on the 26th of October, 1925. He grew up in Long Eaton with his parents, Walter and Winifred, attended the local Grammar School and took his place in the family gardening and nursery business. As a teenager, there was some concern that his poor physical development would not stand the rigours of outdoor life. The local doctor was consulted and he advised a daily intake of half a pint of stout beer 'to build the lad up'. Roy never did things by 'halves', and the delicate youth continued the prescription for the rest of his life. The medicine worked well and he filled out into the big character you all knew simply as 'Roy'.
Amongst his early interests as a young man, he took to watching the local Ice Hockey team, the Nottingham Panthers. In the early fifties, the sport was enjoying huge popularity up and down the country and it became his lifelong passion. What also became a lifelong passion at this time was his future wife, Pauline. Courtship lead to marriage and a true partnership of love and life began. They moved to their first home together in Bleasby and the Registry Certificates of the day describe them as 'Gardener' and 'Domestic'. This was hardly a true representation of the division of labour. Pauline was often to be found hard at work on the flower beds and lawns, whilst Roy would be slaving over a hot stove concocting some dish from leftovers or turning an interesting harvest from the hedgerow into a challenging and nutritious drink.
Within a couple of years they had two sons, Norman and Andrew. Roy was a loving and devoted father and they could not have asked for a better mentor in life and its living. He never taught them to play football, but by the age of five they could both hammer a nail in straight, without threatening life and limb. He did not take them to the cinema very often, but he did make them stars in his own films and video, with which he recorded their adventures as they grew up. He did not read Shakespeare to them, but he did insist that they knew the importance of a well-written hand and carefully crafted letter. But most of all he let them live their lives with sensible freedoms. He allowed them to find out what worked and what didn't, always ready with some careful advice and support when needed, but never cramping their own development. He had no real interest in mechanical matters, but was happy for them to fill his garage with go-karts and old cars, rifling through his tool box to snap another screwdriver or bend another spanner. Perhaps happy is the wrong word, perhaps he just knew that was what boys did.
In 1963, he moved with his young family to Calverton, a bustling village of two very different entities. On one hand a traditional, agricultural community clustered round the historic church; on the other, a vibrant colliery with its new housing and social centres such as the Working Men's Club and Miner's Welfare.
Roy moved easily amongst both groups, enjoying new found friendships which would last throughout his life. Jim and Lil, Gordon and Ruby, Harry and Winnie, Barry and Kath, Lois and Tom, Alistair and Tina, Thomas and Muriel and many, many others formed a circle of friends who ensured that Roy was always proud to call Calverton 'our village'.
It wasn't long before Roy became more involved with the associations and institutions of village life. Firstly, following Pauline's appointment as Cub leader, he joined the parent's group which supported Scouting in the village. Many of you will remember the early days of the 'Hut Club' as funds were raised to build a new Scout and Guide headquarters in the village. Spectacular evenings of entertainment and prize draws featuring such acts as Roy and the Might Atom (not our Roy I hasten to add), became regular calendar events. All of that activity eventually lead to the purchase of the excellent facilities at the old Jonathan Labray School. Certainly the part he played in that will remain a tribute to his organisational skills, his vision and his encouragement of others to dig deep and work hard.
Elected to the Parish Council he served on several committees before being selected as Chairman. At about this time, a suggestion from Peter Wakefield caught Roy's imagination and the idea of twinning the village with a like-minded community took hold. Various approaches were made, and in the end, it was agreed that Calverton would twin with Longue-Jumelles in the Loire Valley of France. It seems strange to think now in this ever-shrinking globe, but France was a far-off and exotic land in those days, and it was with some excitement that the first delegation was received into the village. Roy and Pauline hosted the Deputy Mayor, Monsieur Gaston Chalopin and his charming wife Madeline. With a combination of schoolboy French and hand signals, they struck up an instant and personal friendship that saw them through the formal linking of the two villages and the many exchanges, ceremonials, socials and excursions that run on today. It is with sadness that we also note Gaston's death just a few weeks ago and our thoughts are with his family too.
Perhaps one of the most significant outcomes of that twinning, was that Roy acquired a French Daughter-in-Law when Andrew married Michele. Michele and Roy were always close and she helped to broaden his understanding of the culture, language and wines of her country, whilst he introduced her to the delights of black pudding and PG Tips. Probably not a fair exchange, but Michele always had a special relationship with her 'English Dad' which crossed the barriers of generation, culture and language.
The family grew yet again with Norman's marriage to Linda and the arrival of four grandchildren. It is probably fair to say, that Roy was not a small babies person. However, once the children could walk and talk, then in his eyes they became people. He never talked down to them, or allowed them to back away from challenges and opportunities that were within their reach. At a very young age, each of them had a fair grasp of the rules of cribbage as played by Grandad, and they had all been given a taste of pilchard sandwiches as made by Grandad. Under his very proud gaze, they grew into the strong, individual characters that you know today. He was ever ready to tell anyone he met of their latest achievements and activities and we know they were equally proud of him. Ben and Stewart's exploits on the ice hockey rink, allowed him to rekindle his sporting interest of his youth, and Emily and Nlcola's music and dance allowed him to indulge his passion for the classics.
Never one to stand still for long, a village fete to celebrate a jubilee year was the catalyst for something which grew probably above his expectations. The idea of a Village-Get-Together to be held on an annual basis, bringing together all of the village organisations and associations was just the sort of project to fire his imagination. With a willing band of helpers, volunteers and press men in tow, the inevitable committee was formed and the ideas ran riot. Clowns, Elvis, Indian Dancers, seaside and donkeys; anything was possible. The event has become a firm fixture in the village calendar and in the past years was probably Roy's way of saying thank you to the village and community he loved so much.
Perhaps we can close by saying a few words about the man himself. Firstly, he will be remembered as the true family man; not only his immediate family, but also his brothers and sisters-in-Law, cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, many of them travelling to be at his funeral. Family was most important to Roy, and many of them had the benefit of his quiet words and instinctive wisdom to guide them through difficult times. He will be missed for that.
Roy was also a good friend to a great many people. Sometimes those friendships were tested by his honesty, but he was the man who could be relied on when you needed him. Inevitably, those friendships were sealed over a glass of something refreshing and he loved nothing more than to share his ideas and experiences, debate the latest news stories or just enjoy a chat. He will be missed for that. Some of you will remember him because Roy worked with you in a garden. But for him the garden was rarely work. His ability to create something of beauty without losing sight of the practicalities has turned many a wasteland into a wonderland
The march to the annual 'Calverton Village Get Together'
The brainchild of Roy Bliss.
His encyclopaedic knowledge of plants would have any Latin student reeling and his eye for 'the line' was always true. Woe betide if you thought you could just throw the turf down, it had to be straight; a true craftsman. He will be missed for that.
Outwardly a confident and carefree spirit, he had his fears. If there was a wasp in ther same county, then even in Wellington boots he could match Roger Bannister's four-minute mile. If there was a tree to be pruned, then it was Pauline at the top of the ladder whilst advice and instruction was given from the safety of the terra firma. But he always faced his fears and was not afraid to admit to them and deal with them. Probably like the rest of us, he was also afraid to die. But he faced that fear with dignity, honesty and humour to the last. He was a good man and he will be missed for that.
The family would like to thank all of their friends, colleagues and organisations who touched Roy's life for their kind thoughts and condolences at this time.
A 'life well-lived'. May he rest in peace in a beautiful place.