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Fred was born in Derbyshire, one of three brothers. His father was in the army so he grew accustomed to travelling abroad with the family from an early age. In Hong Kong in 1939 Fred and his parents were on the last troopship to return to England before the outbreak of WWII. Post war, unable to join the rest of the family when his father was posted to Nigeria he had to remain in England to finish his education. It was during that time he met Peggy Pattenden who was to become his lifelong partner when they married in 1957.

When he left school he joined the RAF for his National Service but stayed for 5 years, learning about radar during his service. On leaving in 1958 he joined the company at Basildon - part of the attraction of Basildon was the house that came with the job. Coincident with the birth of their son Phillip three years later he was seconded to Nigeria to join a team of Marconi College instructors training young Nigerians who would operate and maintain a Marconi multi-channel radio system linking all areas of their large country. (The newsletter carried an article about this period of Fred’s career in the 2018 edition, page 11).

On return to the UK in 1965 they came to live in Tiptree and Fred started as a lecturer at Marconi College. It was during 1970 that I came across him when around fifteen young engineers and technicians were transferred from Airadio Division to Electro-Optical Surveillance Division during one of the first big GEC reshuffles. EOS realised it needed to get this motley crew up to speed with their techniques so sent us on a month of mornings-only sessions to do so. It was Fred that taught us the CCTV techniques module, and I was immediately impressed with the clarity of his explanations carried out in a friendly and engaging manner. I met Fred on a number of occasions since that time, during the ‘80s and ‘90s when I was responsible for organising customer training courses, and it was always the same old Fred, ever professional, helpful and friendly. It was the same for me later when attending a number of his WEA courses.

He became Vice Principal at the college remaining there until his early retirement on its closure in 1997, a great sadness for him. However, he continued to travel abroad to deliver teaching in Europe and further afield. Meeting the foreign students at home and abroad was always one of the highlights of the job.

Alongside his working life came his increasing love of and involvement in wildlife conservation and the local environment to the extent that it became a second career. One of the first members of the Essex Wildlife Trust, he later became Vice Chairman and then Chairman in 1995. He was a tutor for the Essex Federation of the WEA and naturally his enthusiasm for the Essex Wildlife Trust seeped into his WEA courses, dealing with topics including ‘Coastal Ecology’, ‘Wildflowers of Britain’ and ‘Woodlands in Trust’, well illustrated with many photographs. His most recent course in Tiptree ‘The effects of Climate Change on Human Evolution’ is highly relevant today.

An enthusiast for aspects of his home village, he co-wrote ‘The Creation of a Village’ with Aubrey Davenport and was instrumental in managing the restoration of Tiptree Heath, the largest remaining lowland heath in Essex. He organised working parties to clear the scrub which allowed three heathers to flourish, and set up the charity ‘Friends of Tiptree Heath. Everything he was involved in was meticulously documented so that anyone who took on that work afterwards had clear guidance and a much easier job.

Fred died on 19 July 2019. Rest well, Fred

 

This tribute is a combination of extracts from the eulogy given at Fred’s funeral service on 19 July, one by Sue More (Chairman, Tiptree WEA) in the Autumn 2019 WEA Essex Federation newsletter, and my own recollections of Fred. Thank you to Peggy Boot for a copy of the eulogy and the loan of her Order of Service for Fred’s photo, and to Sue More for permission to quote from her tribute.
Ken Earney