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News > Obits > Eric A.C.Stride

Eric A.C.Stride

8 Jun 2023
Written by Cait Spencer

Eric Arthur Charles Stride (1936 – 2023). BGS 1949 – 1955

From the Chronicles:

  • Pro Prefect
  • Captain of the 3rd XV
  • Athletics: 4th in Senior High Jump
  • Assistant Stage Manager in the School Play
  • CCF

Eulogy provided by Eric's brother, fellow Old Bristolian Wilfrid P.S. Stride (OB 1949-1958)

Eric passed away on 2nd March, 2023 in Paphos, Cyprus, survived by his brother Wilfrid, four nieces & nephews and their 10 children.

Eric, like his father, spent his working career with one employer until retirement. The family moved several times to match his father’s promotions. Eric was born 28th August, 1936 in Devizes and soon after they moved to Plymstock, then Oxford and Ross-on-Wye. In 1949 promotion came again and the family moved to Bristol.

Eric and his brother were admitted to Bristol Grammar School, though the only vacancy for Eric was in Fifth Classical with Latin, Greek and Ancient History! Someone hinted that taking part in the School Play would help him become a prefect; by chance one of the Classics teachers was producing the next play – “The Taming of the Shrew”. Eric became a prefect and went to Germany with the school play. Hannover was where he met Reni.

At school Eric joined the Combined Cadet Force in the Army Section. He was a good shot and represented the School in rifle competitions. He eventually became Company Sergeant Major.

Classics didn’t have a bright future and he literally walked across the road and was accepted by Bristol University to read law. The TA was recruiting and later he joined and was quickly promoted, helped by all he learned with the CCF; and he was given an Army driving licence. A new procedure had been introduced allowing university TA cadets to be tested for a Commission. He was the only one of his group who passed.

In mid-1958 Eric began his National Service in the Glorious Glosters in Robinswood Barracks. A few days later he received instructions from the War Office that he must proceed to Mons Officer Cadet School. He bypassed most of the basic training and heard of opportunities in West Africa. Eric was seconded to the Ghana Army for 18 months and on 11th December, 1958 he was flown to Accra, Ghana, on his possibly record-breaking fast track National Service officer training. He was chosen to take over the 1st Battalion, B Company based in Takoradi.

Eric on his way to the Congo to lead the first United Nations peace keeping force. He was upset it was not in colour to show off the baby blue UN beret! Around mid-1959 Eric was summoned to the C.O.’s office and promoted to Mechanical Transport Officer. As MTO he had the rank of Captain.

And then urgent orders came that he was to lead a United Nations Peace-Keeping Force in the Congo. He stayed for six weeks, but on his way back developed awful stomach pains and had to be hospitalized – it was appendicitis. This was the end of his most enjoyable military career.

Eric accepted a position with the Bank of West Africa and soon he was back in Ghana, the most junior member of the expatriate staff.

He started in the main office of BWA in Accra but soon was appointed Area Control Manager, responsible for five small branches. For his second tour of duty he was based in the small town of Dunkwa to look after the increasing number of locally managed branches.

Early 1967 he started thinking about marriage. Reni was Personal Assistant to a very important man in Germany but was willing to give it all up – much to Eric’s surprise as he always considered her “above him”. Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last long. They remained best friends until 2007 when she died of leukaemia, keeping her name Frau Stride.

Eric had a number of postings with the newly renamed Standard Bank of West Africa; those in the “bush” were the most enjoyable. In Tarkwa, the story is that on his first day he walked in and stood staring, like a cross between an angry sergeant major and a stern headmaster; the staff immediately stood up as if they were at school. The accountant introduced him to the first person. Eric said: What is that dreadful mess? The reply was: Please Sir, my ledger won’t balance. Apparently, Eric pointed to one entry and told him to recheck it; and by some miracle that was the error. Then out of the blue Eric told the postage clerk to take his cash, stamps and accounts to his office and called two clerks to do a spot check. Of course, he had been milking the account. The staff thought Eric had supernatural powers. Instead of reporting him to the police, Eric offered him a staff loan to cover the thefts, repayable over three months. He stayed in Ghana until October 1974, before his posting to Uganda.

In late 1974 Eric landed in Entebbe. At that time the Head of State was His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshall Alhaji Dr. Idi Amin Dada, VC. DSO, MC, CBE. Eric met him numerous times and found him very polite and interested, not like the public opinion of him, but presidency was beyond his capabilities.

Eric’s leave started with a visit to Head Office in London; he was told about the upcoming retirement of the Company Secretary. Eric was asked to be the replacement’s assistant. So after five years in Uganda it was to be five years in London.

Eric’s work in Head Office was routine and involved corporate matters, often political. While this was very high-level work with the distinct likelihood of Eric becoming the bank’s Company Secretary, he simply didn’t enjoy what he was doing. He requested another overseas posting and was offered the position of Regional Manager, East India, based in Calcutta.

Eric in front of his office in Calcutta, when he was in charge of all the bank's operations in the East half of India

And while Eric was enjoying his life in Calcutta, there was an emergency in Sierra Leone which Eric was asked to handle, with the encouraging words, “Finally you will have your own territory”. He was unhappy with the assignment and Headquarters agreed he could take early retirement when the job was completed; he was barely 52 at the time.

Weston-Super-Mare was his choice of retirement base, partly with elderly relatives there and also as it’s only half an hour’s drive to Bristol where he still had friends from days gone by.

But Eric was a workaholic and retirement was becoming boring. So, his next and final posting was with the National Bank of Malawi. Eric heard Cyprus offered low taxes, reasonable property prices and a lovely climate; he purchased a beautiful house outside Paphos with a wonderful view of the town and the Mediterranean beyond. After his leave he returned to Malawi to serve out the rest of his contract then flew to Cyprus on 2nd May 1993. He improved the house adding a bedroom suite, superb double garage/workshop and swimming pool.

Eric lived almost thirty years in that house and enjoyed it to the end. He travelled a lot, to India, Egypt, Germany, New Zealand, USA and of course to England, attending several Old Bristolians functions.

Unfortunately, his 50 years of smoking caught up with him; he passed away peacefully at home in March 2023.

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