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News > Obits > William Blanchard

William Blanchard

24 Apr 2023
Written by Cait Spencer

Dates: 1935-2018. BGS 1945-1952

Eulogy provided by Bill's family

The world was changing rapidly when Bill was born in 1935. He lived with his parents, Reg and Lilly Blanchard and elder sister Susan in the town of Chingford, north-east of London.

However, as war loomed in the summer of 1939 and recalling the airship attacks on London during WWl, Reg sent Lilly and the children to stay with her uncle in Canada. In itself a harrowing experience.

Winter in Ontario was relentless. Circumstances forced them to live in a log cabin on the shores of Lake Huron. Lilly, in her British innocence and with little money coming in, sold all her seasoned logs, leaving her short on fuel for warmth and was forced to fill the gaps in the walls with newspaper to stave off the bitter Canadian cold.

Things got even worse when the war prevented Reg sending money; so, they moved to Ottawa where Lilly found work. Accommodation was scarce, and she could only find rooms for herself and daughter Susan. Bill was sent to an orphanage and then a foster home, where he was well cared for.

As wartime hostilities waivered and the seas became safer, the family returned home and reunited with Reg. They moved to Bristol where Reg worked in insurance. For 10-year-old Bill it must have been quite a culture shock. He was sent to the Bristol Grammar School, where for the first time he discovered British History - he'd never heard of William the Conqueror in Canada. Bill was an exceptionally bright boy and did well at school. He joined the Scouts; eventually becoming a Queens Scout, then a Sea Cadet.

In 1952 Bill tried to join the Navy. Unfortunately, he failed the eyesight test. Undaunted, he applied instead to the Supply and Secretarial Branch, who accepted people with poor sight. It was the start of his worldwide travels. He spent many months at sea. Bill served an 18-month commission in the West Indies on HMS Rothsay and later, in 1968 served on HMS. Albion as secretary to the Captain, Godfrey Place (VC). It was during this period he met (the lovely) Jean. She was working as a teacher in Singapore and one night attended a party with friends. Stepping out onto the balcony to catch her breath she found Bill, savouring the shimmering tropical evening. There was an instant rapport, conversation came easily - they were a good fit. A few weeks later Bill joined Jean on a trip to Cambodia, a country with a complex political history and stunningly beautiful topography.

Bill returned to the UK shortly after their trip to Cambodia and in August that same year, met up with Jean again at the Edinburgh Festival. Jean was due to return to Singapore within a week. Determined not to let her go, he went down on one knee and proposed. Of course, Jean said yes - despite being left to deal with the grass stains on Bill's trousers. They married on the 28 September 1968 and, with just one day for a honeymoon, made their way to Portsmouth, where Bill took up his next post. Imagining life in the country would be rather fun, they rented a Tudor cottage in Warnford, a few miles away from Fareham. The remoteness soon got the better of them - they were both town dwellers at heart. However, they had caught the renovation bug and bought an old cottage in the High Street in Fareham. It had suffered from decades of neglect, but with their foresight and lots of hard work it soon became a beautiful family home. At this point its probably fair to mention that Bill was not the keenest of DIY'ers - in fact he had rather a short fuse when it came to painting and decorating and was more than willing to leave it to the professionals! In September 1970 daughter Diana was born. Bill was always a very caring father. He cherished the times they all spent on his sister's farm in Northamptonshire, Bill loved helping with the harvest - times Diana can no doubt recall. Bill left the Navy in 1974 and trained as a solicitor. For a while he practiced criminal law at a local firm in Fareham. Later he joined the Crown Prosecution Service as a Crown Prosecutor. One day he could be dealing with poachers in the New Forest, the next shoplifters in Southampton. It was a job he loved, full of variety.

In 1992 Bill collapsed just as he entered court. He was diagnosed with a congenital abnormality of the main arteries supplying the brain and given the tough option of surgery and a cure with possible side effects or an uncertain future. He reluctantly chose surgery and fortunately was left only with a slight balance problem and imperceptibly slurred speech. He could no longer appear in the court room but continued to work behind the scenes until retirement at the age of 60.

By this time Bill and Jean were living in another house they renovated in Archery Lane, Fareham, with a garden they both loved. It was Bill's job to look after the lawn, whilst Jean took care of the rest. He could often be found kneeling down to weed with Rufus the cat draped over his back. For some reason the cat loved to sit on his shoulders, often resembling a fur stole! 

They moved to the bungalow in 2006, their last renovation project. Bill never lost his passion for travel and over the years accompanied Jean around the world. Switzerland was one favourite destination - the family spent several lovely holidays there with friends.

Neither Bill, nor Jean lost their vigour and passion for life, they enjoyed doing everything together. 

They were members of a variety of groups. For 30 years they belonged to a group of like­ minded friends who ate regularly at the South Downs College fine dining restaurant. Bill belonged to PROBUS and they both enjoyed a variety of functions and trips with the Arts Society. A member of the Fareham Society Bill was eventually banned from participating in quizzes - he always won!

In January this year Bill started to experience urinary and chest infections that became more and more debilitating and  concerning. However, being Bill, he never complained or grumbled - never let on how unwell he really was. About three weeks ago he collapsed at home and was rushed to Queen Alexandra Hospital. After various tests, doctors confirmed that Bill was seriously ill and only had a matter of weeks to live. He was ready to say goodbye. On the 17th September 2018 Bill slipped away quietly, without a fuss. He was 83 years old. It is impossible in such a few words, with so little time, to fully describe the life of a man like Bill. He was quite remarkable. An intelligent, intellectual person, there wasn't much that Bill didn't know. Jean never needed a dictionary with Bill around!

He was loving and caring, quiet and reserved at times. He always saw the good in people - a surprising trait in a man who was once a Crown Prosecutor. A man who spent his life in uniform and smart suits, but much preferred his old gardening trousers and a pair of worn socks. He never understood colour co-ordination.

Bill could lose himself in the newspapers, his music or a warm day on the allotment - Jean would often have to go looking for him! He adored his family - daughter Diana, grandsons Sebastian and Nathaniel, son-in-law Richard; they made him very proud. But most of all he loved his best friend, his companion, the woman who could always make him laugh - Jean his wife of 50 years. Today would have been their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Someone once said there is no good in goodbye. So, for those who loved Bill we will say, thank you, my life has been better for knowing you. 

Thank you, Bill.

Provided by family.

Below are extracts from the School Chronicles. 

April 1952 Chronicle reports W B Blanchard as House Prefect in Dehn’s, he also presented the Rugby 2nd XV . July 1952 Chronicle shows W Blanchard in the School 1xt XI Cricket team

Also July 1952 W B Blanchard is the scorer at the opening of the War Memorial Playing Field

The Chronicle of Dec 1952 reports W Blanchard representing Rugby 1st XV

The Chronicle of Dec 1952 has the following announcement: 

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