MDS ‘This is Your Life’

Retracing Fore-Fathers Footsteps, Generation 1

A light hearted ‘This is Your Life’ for 80th birthday celebrations with the family. Corrections by the man himself!

We are here on this auspicious occasion to celebrate the 80th birthday of a certain person, namely MDS, – also known as ‘My Old Man’, David, Dave, Dad, Daddy, Father, Ordinary Grandad, Grandad and Great Grandad!

So where did it all begin?

In the ‘People’s Republic’ of South Yorkshire, in a Sheffield hospital on XX XXX 19**, and avoiding the bombs from the Sheffield blitz, ‘Our David’ was born. Although with no intention of ever using the ‘M***’, David’s parents Bill and Esme, thought ‘MD Sanderson’ sounded better than ‘DM’, in the hope he may one day become a doctor!  

If we believe all the stories, the family were destitute and ‘baby David’ slept in a drawer, the cupboards were bare, and he was left to squash his nose against shop windows gazing in at pies and cakes.

But, life wasn’t at all bad, living at 50 Harrison Road, Sheffield 6, before moving next door to number 52 at the age of 10. For the first 5 years, Britain was at war, and David’s father Bill worked in the steel factories by day, and as an air raid warden by night, before returning to his job as a motor mechanic when war ended.

Mother Esme having worked at ‘Bertie Bassets’ making ‘Liquorice Allsorts’ before David was born, returned to work making steel files once David had started school at Malin Bridge school. Saturday afternoons echoed to the sounds of the crowds supporting the ‘Owls’ which could be heard from t’yard, with David heading off to offer his support.

Later on Sheffield Wednesday were sponsored by a very auspicious family!

The family vehicle was a motorbike and sidecar, Bill driving, and Esme and David in the side car. It took them on picnics and holidays. The family enjoyed trips into the countryside, often walking the 3 miles into the Peak District and Bradfield to watch cricket on the Green on a Sunday. Days out were a theme which would continue.

Later David passed his 11 + and attended King Edward V11 Grammar School in Sheffield, where he met Alan Bladen, later best man and Godfather to Paul.

King Edward v11 School Sheffield 1952

The family travelled far and wide around Britain, as David’s holiday journals prove. David enjoyed cycling and joined the Youth Hostelling Association.

At the age of 17, David passed his A’ levels and moved on to pastures new, as an apprentice mechanical engineer in Southall. This must have been quite a wrench for an only child, when he packed his belongings into a handkerchief, tied it to a stick and boarded the train with his bike at Sheffield Station, as his mother waved from the platform with a tear in her eye.

One of the many immigrants arriving from the far-flung regions of the Empire. And bringing with him, exotic dishes, such as soggy chips & egg, and new concepts – breakfast dinner and tea, he learnt to drop his ‘t’s and add his ‘h’s, and soon blended in as a ’Southern Nancy’.

David made new friends at college and converted manor house in Denham where he lived, they still meet up with from time to time, including room mate Brian Smith, from the Isle of Wight (famous for his tree pulley system.)

Then on one fateful evening in 1962 he attended a dance in Isleworth, the same dance that CH was attending, and the rest is history. They were married in Heston Church XX XXX19**.

David got a job in the civil service and then ‘Rolls Royce’. **** & **** started as they meant to go on, and had lived in 3 different homes (Glasgow, Derby and Manchester), by the time *** was born in 19**.

In late 1965 David decided on a career change, having visited Uncle Gordon who was in the RAF whilst in Scotland. *** and *** admired the RAF housing.

So David signed up and began his basic training as winter approached in the wastes of the Stanta training area, Norfolk.

Having extremely bad circulation, David chose the wrong time to sign up, but just about survived the experience, and Passed out (literally during a first aid film!) but later, on the parade ground at Feltwell, before moving onto Cranwell.

It was during this time at Grantham that Paul was born, just in time for Christmas. A couple of weeks later they left the country for Malta, with 2 year old *** and 6 week baby ***!

The family moved into a flat in Sliema, before a flat on camp in Luqa, taking advantage of the weather, beaches, places of interest, RAF social life and generally having a good time.

Leaving in 1970 for RAF Colerne in Wiltshire, where **** was born in 19**.

Bedtime readings introduced us to the delights of Enid Blyton, ‘Noddy’s Adventures in Toyland’ and the ‘Three Naughty Brownies’.

Always time for a cuppa by the side of the road

Then, the family moved to Barton Le Clay 1971-4, when **** and **** plucked up the courage to buy their own home. David got the DIY and gardening bug, adding lots of little finishing touches to the property, and many a weekend was spent visiting DIY stores, garden centres and checking out sheds!

It was also at this time that David updated himself with a ‘modern’ hairstyle, which has lasted until this very day.  

Oops I nearly forgot camping holidays in the ‘caravan’, how could we three forget the trips to caravan showrooms as the different vans and ‘conversions’ were inspected and compared.  The first Motor Caravan was a red Commer, that got stuck on a hill on its first outing.

Then our home from home, Turquoise Ford Transit van with fridge, orange seats, curtains and yellow bucket, which took us everywhere. Finally, a white Toyota Hi-ace.

In RAF Ternhill 1974-5- David acquired his first electronic organ, and we may remember ‘Spanish Eyes’ and ‘Island of Dreams’. As well as lots of red helicopters!

And how can any of us forget the air tromboning, whilst marching around the house in a military fashion, or the ‘flipping great pudding that came flying through the air’.

Then to Shawbury 1975-6, where the next home ownership took place, this time with a larger garden, and plans of settling down.

The RAF had other ideas, and sent us to Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles to mend helicopters, gaffer tape proved the most effective for the job! The RAF recommended that military personal, not draw attention to themselves, and blend in to the community as much as possible, so we travelled around the countryside in our turquoise camper van with an English number plate, and Father grew his hair an extra millimetre.

The family survived the Northern Ireland experience, returning back to Shawbury in 1978, again hoping to settle down, but the RAF instead sent us to the other side of the country – Norfolk.

Father was soon to retire from RAF, so set off with Mum and a wish list for a suitable house to settle in – old, walking distance to shops and schools, large garden, and a river. Eventually they found just such a place; 58 Damgate St Wymondham in 1978.

David and Cynthia then set about renovating, what had been a shop and weaver’s factory into a modern home and self-sufficient garden. A cellar was discovered, drained, stairway opened and tidied up, the garden was given the Somme treatment as hundreds of feet of drainage channels were dug by hand. And lots of fruit and veg was produced, before a holiday to France.

And of course we can’t forget Christmas’ past and past!

It’s that flipping great pudding, the one that goes flying through the air!

David retired from RAF in 1981, becoming one amongst the British nation of shopkeepers in 1982. The Matchbox toy shop was opened in Church St Wymondham. It soon grew out of its premises, and in 1984 another branch was opened in Dereham, then the Wymondham branch moved to larger premises around 1988.

Like Frank Spencer, who also joined the RAF, David, liked the uniform, and although he was only in the RAF for 16 years, he continued to wear the shirts and jumpers for 50, especially for decorating and gardening!

A*** married M*** in 19**, following a demonstration of the correct way to clean light switches.

David and Cynthia began to get itchy feet again and moved to Gaynor Close Wymondham 1986. First grandchild, L***, was born in 19** and J*** 19**, G*** was born 19** and S*** in 19**.

They soon learnt the rules to all the card games from ‘ordinary’ Grandad, and played with David’s old dinky toys.

They decided to downsize to Marwood Close in 1992, before, upsizing again, to Windsor Park, Dereham in 1994 as Grandma and Grandad came to live with them, when Grandad became ill.

The shop continued to expand, with Lizzin, P*** and J*** joining the business, moving into Nursery goods and opening further branches in Kings Lynn and Boston, but later consolidating by closing all branches except Kings Lynn.

In 19** L*** married J***, giving David a place to offload unwanted tools, but keeping them close at hand, so they could be borrowed back if necessary.  

J*** was born 20**, and K*** in 20**, they both learnt the correct way to comfortably arrange your trouser legs before sitting, even when wearing shorts!

David and Cynthia were soon on the move again, following retirement from the Toy business, they had a 3 month stay in Wisbech St Mary followed by a move to Marton Court in Rugby. During this time, they enjoyed days out and holidays visiting relatives and friends, and cruising the high seas. They managed an adventure holiday to visit Uncle Malcolm and family in Canada and taking the opportunity to expand the family hobby of Family History by visiting the haunts of the ancestors.

David continued his hobbies of singing, learning the piano, gardening, bowls, playing bridge, but his tennis and football days were over.

Then returning to Norfolk, and Hunstanton, but not before briefly living in Dersingham, and meeting up with old friends.  

** & ** celebrated their Golden Wedding in 20**

The next generation arrived in 2018 when *** was born, making David a Great Grandad.

We were all surprised when *** decided to pop the question to ****, and they were married in 20**.

Happy 80th Birthday from us all,

and on behalf of myself, P & L, thanks for giving us a rather unusual but fun childhood, and for teaching us the important things in life –

  • how to stand and contemplate life,
  • how to sort and store things, especially nails and screws
  • the correct way to eat Cadburys chocolate squares,
  •  but above all, never to throw any wood away.

*** – This is Your Life!

Wilco, over and out!