Music: Spring – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons



Good afternoon and welcome to you all. We are here to bid farewell to a dearly loved and respected man, to share sadness and bring comfort to one another, and most of all to celebrate the life of Douglas Grant. Whilst for those who have been close to him, there is the terrible pain of losing Doug, there is also the pride and the joy of having shared in the life of this generous, kind and gentle man.


This is to be a Humanist ceremony in which the focus of our thoughts is on Doug; the person he has been, the life he has lived. No offence is meant to those of you who hold religious belief and there will be opportunity for private prayer or reflection during our simple ceremony. Humanists believe that we should take responsibility for our lives by striving to be happy and helping those around us to be happy. That we should respect and recognise the uniqueness of all human beings, seeking to reach our potential, making the most of the one life we can be sure of. From what I have heard about Doug, it is clear that he has been a good man who has lead a good life, we can consider…

Not, how did he die, but how did he live?

Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?


Walter Douglas Haig Grant; Walter after his father; Haig after Earl Haig, was born three days after armistice day at the end of the Great War. Known to you all as Douglas/Doug, his wonderful innings is now over. He chose to die on a beautiful spring morning at home with his beloved wife Hilary. That morning, the first of the blossom came out on their cherry tree, which he loved and so we entered here to the strains of Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.


My father – David Grant


A number of things define my father


He was


·        A West Indian

·        A cricket lover

·        An immigrant

·        A socialist, and

·        A social worker


I knew him as all these things and much more.


One of my very first memories of him is being carried on his shoulders – being so far above the ground I shivered with fear – truly standing on the shoulders of a giant


When we lived deep in the North Yorkshire countryside at Ingleby I remember him striding out to work every morning – a two mile walk every morning to catch the train to Middlesbrough – in all weathers – and in the winter seeing his footsteps in the snow breaking a trail where no one else had trodden.


I remember him telling me about his childhood in St Vincent and having to break the ice on the well every morning in order to wash - and being so gullible as to believe him.


I remember him telling me the facts of life and both of us squirming with embarrassment


I remember when we used to go and watch cricket matches together and in particular being with him when the West Indies played at Headingley in 1963 and his unbounded joy at seeing his cricketing heroes in action – who can forget those names – Sobers and Worrall, Hall and Griffiths, Kanhai and Butcher and Murray, Solomon and Gibbs. And I remember that he was so anxious for them to win he wrote to the captain Frank Worrall and offered advice on how to win – based no doubt on his experience as a non-bowling No. 11 in the Leeds Probation Office team.


I remember how happy he seemed when he was appointed Director of Social Work in Aberdeen and the pleasure he had working with the team that he assembled in the Social Work Department.


I remember that it was at the same time that he discovered malt whisky and I remember how his lips used to pucker up as he raised the glass to his lips and when he drank it his eyes twinkled and you could really believe it was nectar.


I remember his love of the English language, of poetry, of Shakespeare and of literature in general. It seems old fashioned now but he could recite Shakespeare and he did so, frequently. But I also remember the pleasure he got simply reading out gems from ‘Quote of the Week’ from the Sunday papers.


I remember his hatred of injustice, of poverty, of bigotry and prejudice, of inequality and of lack of opportunity and how he strove to protect his family from all of this.


Above all I remember him as an honest man, a man of integrity, and throughout his life, an honourable man.


[And finally] There is a story he told us that has entered Grant family folklore. It concerned the time when he was a Scottish Home Office Inspector in the Highlands and he visited a children’s home run by a very capable, caring and loving house mother. She was delighted that my father had taken over the responsibility for inspecting her home because the previous one had been much too formal and pedantic for her liking. She said that on one occasion, after the inspection was over but before he had prepared his report he wrote to her asking her to clarify a number of irritating details. One of his queries was that although the menu for 1 May stated that the children had ‘soup’ for tea it did not state what kind of soup, and he would be grateful if she could supply this information. So she did. It was ‘nourishing’ soup she said.


That was one of my father’s favourite stories and it certainly lives on in our family. I like to think of him as a person who nourished and cherished and loved those around him and that is how I shall remember him.


[And finally, when I was thinking about what to say today I remember also that he was an essentially modest man and I think that he may have been a little embarrassed by all the fuss we are making of him today. I think he might have wanted to puncture it with a little humour and so I looked for a quotation that might help. And I found one from one of his favourite authors – Mark Twain - who said this:


“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”


I think my father would be pleased to see that none of the undertakers are smiling today.]


What is dying? Bishop Brent


I am standing on the seashore.

A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.

She is the object of beauty and I stand watching till at last she fades into the horizon. And someone at my side says “She is gone!”

Gone where?

Gone from my sight, that is all;

She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her.

And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.

The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not her;

And just at the moment when someone at my side says “She is gone”

There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout; “There she comes” – and that is dying.


Tribute to Doug’s life and qualities


Born in St Vincent, then a British Colony, Doug was the youngest of five children. Their home was also shared by his half brother, Gregor and sundry animals including horses, dogs and a donkey. He had a happy, loving childhood and maintained fond memories of having cold showers each morning with his father in the yard; always fastidious about being clean. He saw the introduction of electricity on the island, and the hurricane of 1921 when his father brought his favourite horse into the house, for fear of injury. He had the privilege of mixing his father’s rum cocktail each evening a skill that lasted throughout his life. Doug loved cricket, was a keen sea scout and, having always been encouraged to read and think for himself, he entered the local Grammar School – where he was broken of left handedness. Hence his spidery writing! Doug’s best subject was English and his love of literature, drama and poetry lasted throughout his lifetime.


On leaving school, the best jobs in the island were not open to him these only being available for people whose skin was white – Doug was coloured. His hatred of apartheid on the basis of skin colour was therefore understandable. But he started training as a pharmacist in the local hospital and was eventually given responsibility for a rural pharmacy in Belair. But then war broke out, and along with two other “Vincies” Doug left his home island on Friday 13 June 1941 in a troop ship (the Maas Kerk). He crossed the Atlantic in an eight knot convoy at the height of the U boat campaign to fight for King and country in the RAF. Arriving at Greenock, he caught a train to London, having to stand the whole way – imagine that first arrival in the ‘Mother Country’! Kitting out took place at Lords Cricket Ground and not for the first time in his life, Doug was unable to get a uniform to fit his 6ft 3 frame. He was billeted in various parts of the UK – from the North East to West Midlands, from East Anglia to Devon. Experiencing winter for the first time, Doug obtained woollen clothes from the West Indian War Services Commission. He recounted having to break ice on water to wash and shave with. As a radio operator/gunner, stationed in Canada, he met and married his first wife Mona in Quebec in 1945. He was sent to Trincomalee in what was then Ceylon, despatching troops behind enemy lines in Burma. His Liberator made the longest ever round trip of nearly 3,600 miles from Ceylon to drop medical personnel and supplies to prisoners of war in Southern Sumatra – navigating by dead reckoning, using the sun and stars!  He and Mona set up home in Liverpool after war ended; Doug got a place at Liverpool University to read social policy and administration. Summoned back to an Air Force base in Lancashire, he was told he would be sent home. Fortunately, Professor Simey from the University and Learie Constantine, the former West Indian cricketer who was then working for the Foreign and Colonial Office, intervened on his behalf. He was allowed to stay! David his first son was born in Liverpool in 1949 and the family moved to Yorkshire when Doug got his first job as a basic grade probation officer in Middlesbrough. His daughter Judith was born in 1953. Promotion to a senior probation post followed in 1961 when the family moved to Leeds, where his younger son Stephen was born in 1963. Stephen has stayed in London with Mona today and their thoughts will be joined with yours at this moment. In 1964 Doug moved to the Children’s department in the Scottish Office where,  experiencing a horrendous management style and poor relationships; he was determined to do better when he was in charge!  The family relocated to Aberdeen and when social work departments were established in 1967 he was appointed Director of Social Work setting up the department from scratch. This was the happiest period of his working life and this was the city that he felt was his spiritual home in the UK.


Music: The Northern Lights of old Aberdeen


Local government reorganisation in 1974 forced another move. Two years as Director of Social Work in Fife Regional Council was followed by six years as Director of Social Services in the London Borough of Hounslow, from which he retired in 1982. Many former colleagues have paid tribute to Doug – here are just a few of them:


Remembering Doug for his kindness, gentleness and sense of fun and many other qualities: the world is a better place for Douglas’s life.


Doug was a man of great sensitivity and warmth and I shall always think of him as a man who felt the pain of others and whose work was truly a vocation.


Douglas was such a fine man; intelligent, sensitive to the needs of

others, kind and encouraging in his dealing with his colleagues, so that

they always say him as a true friend. I owe him a great deal.


It was in Hounslow in 1980 that Doug met Hilary when he appointed her to a job. He joined her in 1983 in her home in Ham, Richmond and they have shared a very happy loving relationship. On Doug’s 84th birthday, having been together for 20 years, Doug and Hilary were married in the Court House, St.Vincents, a private, joyous occasion which was later celebrated by parties in North and South England. Doug’s early years of retirement were filled with learning new skills in typing and law, polishing up the Spanish he had learned as a school boy and cooking. He was involved in the Children’s Society, keeping him connected to social services. He also taught English to a newly arrived neighbour from East Germany using his beloved Guardian newspaper as material. He enjoyed local life but loved to travel to his beloved home in St Vincent and also to the Spanish Regions of Valencia, Andalucia and the smaller Canary Islands.


Music: Valencia; Jose Carreras


Doug loved the cinema and theatre, taking annual trips to Stratford to see a Shakespeare play right up to 2003.  To the end of his life, he recited Shakespeare and poetry, including this piece which will be read by his friend Brendan Loughran.



All the world’s a stage – read by Brendan Loughran


All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurses arms.

And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’s eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper’d  pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose well save’d a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

is second childishness and mere oblivion,

sans teeth, sans, sans taste, sans everything.



Douglas and Hil moved to Aberdeen in 1988 when Hilary got a new job. For Doug it was a very happy return.  He got involved with the Association for Mental Health and Grampian Homes, a new social housing organisation. He loved walking, visiting friends and entertaining the many visitors from the South. In 1993 changes at Grampian Health Board led to Hil seeking another job and this was their final move. Indeed, on arrival at their home in Holmes Chapel, Doug told Hilary that he wanted to be carried out of here in his box: his days of moving house were over. He also felt it time to relinquish work in the voluntary sector and concentrate on reading, gardening, housework, the arts and travel.  He loved the neighbourhood and the people around him, enjoying his daily walk into the village. Losing the ability to walk was very frustrating for such an active man but his spirit and his interest in people and what was going on, remained. His smile captivated everyone who visited; he always wanted to know how other people were doing. Continuing to watch his beloved cricket, he saw England win the Ashes; of course he didn’t pass the ‘Tebbit Test’ – he always supported the West Indies.


Still planning holidays, Doug often told Hil that there was a taxi waiting to take them to the airport and would insist on being able to see his beloved walking stick. Never complaining of his predicament, Doug remained a true gentleman.


We have mentioned Doug’s love of poetry. This next piece, which will be read by Arthur Jackson, Doug’s friend and former GP, is one which he recited as he approached the end of his life.




Requiem – R L Stevenson read by Arthur Jackson


Under the wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me die.

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.


This be the verse you grave for me:

“Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea

And the hunter home from the hill.”


We have now come to the time when we must say goodbye to the physical presence of Douglas Grant. Would you please stand.


The Committal


To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose on earth. A time to be born and a time to die. Death has come to your friend and loved one, Douglas Grant. Doug’s hopes and ideals will be committed into your minds; his love into your hearts, his spirit has long been abroad in the world. We commit Doug’s body to its natural end.


Curtains Close


Hold on to Doug in your thoughts: there is no need to part from him too hastily. Talk about him often, repeat the words and sayings he used and the jokes he made. Enjoy your memories of him just as we have today.


Doug had his last wish, he was carried out of his home by the Funeral Directors, and as requested in his will, his ashes will be scattered in Indian Bay, St Vincent. Doug’s great niece Laura, will read the next poem.


 Island in the Sun –  Erica Standing, read by Laura Settle


From our square-shaped balcony.

Overlooking a shivering, sequinned sea,

Sun in the sky,

Cumulus clouds floating by,

Swimmers, wind surfers and yachts we see,

Shell-seekers, sun-worshippers, feeling free,

For in the West Indies are we.


Indian Bay is the location;

Villa the situation;

Young Island not far away,

Alongside rugged Fort Duvernette;

Long Rock jutting jagged and thin,

An exciting place to which to swim.

To climb, to explore the crevice within.


Paradise in this idyllic isle,

Where beauty abounds for many a mile.

Pale tourists arrive looking wan,

And later depart with a golden tan.

Yes, I’m sure that you’d agree…

St. Vincent, in the Caribbean Sea,

Is the natural place to be.



It will soon be time for us to leave here and pick up the everyday thread of our lives. As we do let us resolve to live well. To take inspiration from Doug’s integrity, generosity and sense of fairness, as well as his ability to enjoy what this flawed but wonderful world has to offer us.


Hilary has so many people who she wants to thank. Too numerous to list they include family locally who have been there for her, neighbours, the professional services, friends, colleagues and Doug’s family. She is thankful and appreciative of all of your support and love. Any donations received will be split between Amnesty International and The Salvation Army. The former in helping towards its continuous work in fighting injustice and inequality, the latter for the sound, practical help it offers to people in need.


Everybody is welcome back at the house in Homes Chapel where I am sure you will share lots more stories of Doug. Thank you for being here; take care of yourselves and of one another.


Music: Victory Test Match – Lord Beginner

























Humanist Funeral Ceremony




Celebrate the Life of


Walter Douglas Haig Grant




Crewe Crematorium




9th May 2006




14th November 1918 – 17th April 2006






Funeral Director: Graham Tressider


Humanist Officiant: Jan Ferguson