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29th June 2011

THE PEOPLE OF ROSS BID A FOND FAREWELL TO ALAN


A photograph of Alan taken in 2009 by friend Steve O'Kane.

My beloved partner and soul mate Alan Wood, founder of Wyenot.com and a true friend of Ross-on-Wye passed away on Thursday, 2nd June 2011, the saddest day of my life and that of his family.

The news of Alan's passing away seemed to have rocked the whole town and on Friday, 17th June, St. Mary's Church was packed with family and hundreds of friends who all wished to pay their last respects. From this point you can read an account of this heart breaking, yet heart warming day in the words of our friend Norman Bricknell.

'On Friday 17th June 2011, 700 year old St. Mary's Church, Ross-on-Wye was the venue for a Celebration of the Life of a hugely admired man, Alan Wood. The service was sensitively conducted by Reverend Sarah Jones, much of the content having been put together by Alan himself some weeks before he died.

From where I was sitting, the large Church appeared virtually full, showing the degree of affection in which Alan was held. The organ was played by Alan's brother, and, despite all of the pressures of recent weeks, the principal tribute was movingly given, with great courage, by Tina, Alan's partner.

The music, chosen by Alan included 'Mocking Bird' by Barclay James Harvest, 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond' by Pink Floyd, and the Assembled Company gave their lusty best on 'Guide Me O Thy Great Redeemer'! The Order of Service also contained 'A Poem for My Dad' written by daughter Sarah Wood, 'My Brother Alan' by Marilyn Cain, sister, and 'My Best Man' by lifelong friend Glynn.

Substantial crowds gathered outside the Church whilst the family prepared for the burial, many people then progressing to the bustling White Lion Pub at Wilton to commemorate Alan's life. Tina has worked at the White Lion for some years and David & Jacqui Newman have been stalwart friends throughout that time.

A large number of people then progressed to the party at Broome Farm, Peterstow which Mike Johnson, Phil Long and others at Broome Farm had promised to hold for Alan. Alan and Tina have long had a particular love for the atmosphere and events that take place in this wonderful rural venue. A fantastic spread had been laid out by Hilary and John Draper, Kate Bolland, Cindy Smith, Monica Lovell and others, whilst a range of Ciders and Perry's were lovingly dispensed by the hosts.

In front of the assembled crowd, Jesse Norman, MP for South Herefordshire, took to the stage to deliver a wonderfully heartfelt tribute to Alan, followed similarly by Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County and close friend of Alan, Joyce Thomas, MBE.

Music from Alan's collection was organized by John Edwards and various members of the family gave readings of some of their favourite pieces. Alan's 80 year old father, Jeffrey, a most interesting retired Marine Surveyor gave voice to 'Ain't it Grand to be Bloomin' Well Dead' a song that all of Alan's family used to sing when younger.

Friends of Alan had come from as far a field as Holland, Chris and Annika, together with old friend, singer/song writer Steve O'Kane and his partner, Fiona. The party continued until approximately 9.00 pm and as a celebration of his life, Alan would no doubt have enjoyed every part of it.

Being the wonderful, modest, self -effacing man that he was, there is little doubt that Alan would have been humbled and amazed at the love shown towards him on the day. For those reading this who are NOT local to Ross-on-Wye, all of the local papers have devoted significant space in their publications to tributes that have been received about Alan, his web site, his photography, and his 'giving' nature.'


29th June 2011 A TRIBUTE TO ALAN BY JESSE NORMAN MP .

Alan did not want a Wake on the day of his funeral He wanted a party and we are extremely grateful to all at Broome Farm and Ross Cider & Perry Co. Ltd for allowing us the use of the barn and providing everybody with the most fantastic food. We are also extremely grateful to John Edwards for operating his PA system so that not only could Alan's favourite music be played through it, his friends could also be heard paying tribute to him.

Jesse Norman MP gave a lovely tribute which you can read below.

'Ladies and Gentlemen! 'We are gathered today, here at Broome Farm, to mourn the passing of Alan Wood, a most wonderful man, and to celebrate his life and his work.

I first met Alan in early 2007. As a new political candidate, I was very keen to get involved in every aspect of Herefordshire life and if there was a public event anywhere near Ross-on-Wye, you could be sure Alan and Tina would be there. Alan would man the camera and direct operations, while Tina was the intrepid reporter on the microphone. The mic at that time was a curious object resembling a rather furry hamster, or a small wombat. It was quite an experience for me to learn to discourse about the joys of Ross on camera, while speaking into the tail end of a wombat.

You will have read the handsome obituary tributes to Alan last week, and it says more than I can about the respect and affection in which he was held that he was given the front page of the Ross Gazette. Alan was born and raised in London. He worked there in the areas of print and design, and later in Gloucester and the Forest of Dean, before setting up Wyenot.com in the year 2000. He married Bernice and had three children, Matthew, Christopher and Sarah, before meeting Tina, his partner today.

Alan was a brilliant photographer, and over time he combined his stills with video, and a weekly blog, so that Wyenot grew into a comprehensive news and information service about Ross-on-Wye and its surroundings. From the start it was completely local and completely independent in its vision. It has long been the indispensable first port of call for any visitors to Ross, and it stands as a great archive of local life over more than a decade—a piece of contemporary local history in action. Long may it continue.

To meet Alan for the first time was to be struck by his openness, his kindness and his generosity of spirit—this was a man who would help anybody out if he could. Apart from his dedication to promoting Ross-on-Wye, he was a lover of nature and of music. He also had a profound interest in the wonders of the universe and science and, in particular, chemistry.

It has come to light that this interest in space, and in the fact that men were being sent to the Moon, once led Alan to build his own rocket. Alan’s rocket consisted of a length of aluminium tube from the school metal workroom, stuffed to the brim with home-made gun powder. Armed with this creation, Alan built a brick launch pad and got his friend Mark Bartlett to light the Jet-ex fuse, so that he could photograph the launch himself.

The rocket did not emulate the slow, graceful climb of the Saturn 5s they had seen on television, however. It shot upwards, made a hard left turn, veered backwards and snaked wildly out of control, smashing a window in a nearby block of flats. At this point the moon shot had turned from a scientific experiment into a problem in moral philosophy. It was what Alan would have called a 'perfectly ordinary' choice between two alternatives: hang around and get caught, or leg it. They decided to leg it. Alan ended up with a brilliant photograph—of the smoke left behind on the launch pad.

Alan, then, was a man of great empathy, warm intelligence and huge energy and curiosity about the unknown, and all three shine through in his sometimes heartbreaking blog. I know from others how these qualities are reflected in his three children, of whom he was and will always be immensely proud: Sarah, for her very caring nature and huge help during Alan's illness; Matthew, for his cleverness in writing amazing computer programmes, which often helped Alan out; and Christopher, who shares Alan's boundless curiosity, and who on more than one occasion has been known to say, 'Let's just press this button and see what happens ...'

I was delighted that the Association of Ross Traders awarded Alan its John Kyrle Shield in recognition of his work. It was a privilege for me, as I am sure it has been for you all, to have known him. We all owe Alan a huge debt of gratitude, we greatly mourn his passing, and we send him our love, today and always. Thank you, and thank you Alan.

Thank you Jesse for your wonderful tribute.


29th June 2011 ALAN'S AWARDS FOR HIS WORK FOR THE COMMUNITY

Regular Wyenot News readers will be aware that Alan was recently presented with ART's John Kyrle Award for Community Spirit in recognition of all the hard work he put in to promote the town of Ross-on-Wye, it's businesses and local organizations. Alan was very proud to have received this award and I and his family are extremely proud of him, too. You may have read in a previous issue of Wyenot News that getting to present Alan with the award was not easy, but Art's determination that Alan should receive it paid off in the end.

Alan was also very proud and totally surprised when at the Mayor Making in 2007, outgoing Mayor Councillor Phil Cutter presented him with an award, a photograph of which can be seen below. I felt such pride in the fact that all the hard work that Alan had put into promoting the town, day in, day out, for hours on end had finally been recognized and appreciated.

In 2006, Alan was also rewarded by Ross-in-Bloom for his hard work when they presented him with their Overall Community Spirit Award and the Halcyon Daze vase for community spirit.

Having said all this, Alan wasn't in it for awards, although he was immensely proud of them all. He was happy to continue to do the work he loved for the town he loved and I am so very proud of him for that.


Councillor Phil Cutter presented Alan with this award in May 2007 in recognition of the work he did for the town.

29th June 2011 MY TRIBUTE TO ALAN READ AT ST MARY'S ON 17TH JUNE .

When Alan first came to live in Ross-on-Wye, little did he know what impact he would have on the town. He and Bernice moved here in 1976 when the company Alan worked for relocated to Gloucester from London. He spent around 30 years working for EIG before they parted company and he created Wyenot.com.

Getting Wyenot.com off the ground was a slow process; people were not really aware of the power of the internet at that time but Alan persevered, creating Wyenot News to complement the home site and his baby began to grow. There were down times; times when he felt like giving up, then we would meet somebody in the street who would congratulate him on his work or take pleasure in informing him that they had moved here because of what they had seen on Wyenot.com.

Alan had many interests. He was a radio ham and made many friends around the world. He was also very keen on astronomy and was delighted when we were invited to have lunch with Sir Patrick Moore. Alan also met another hero of his when his friend Roger Lovell took us to meet his father, Sir Bernard Lovell. Alan went to the US to watch the first ever space shuttle landing and was also very proud to have been 'A Face in Space' when his photograph went aboard Discovery on her final mission.

Alan had a great love of music, enjoying anything from the classics to Pink Floyd, even producing a CD of his own work. Although not anti social, Alan quite often enjoyed his own company and would take himself off to film the local wildlife, river levels, scenic places and the stars. His films are extremely popular, doing much to attract tourists to Ross as well as boost local business and he was proud to promote this lovely town.

When the news came that Alan was terminally ill, he was braver than all of us. Soon after his diagnosis, he wrote in his blog: 'Seeing and feeling the sorrow of others is much harder to take than my own inevitable future because, no matter how much I might want to make them happy, I cannot change what is destined to be. All I can promise is that I will continue to fight for as long as I am able.' And did he fight! Typical of Alan, to think of others before himself.

Matthew, Christopher and Sarah, your dad told me how very proud of you he is. He told me how much he is going to miss his many wonderful friends. He told me how much he loves his entire family, including my sons and he told me all I needed to know.

Alan, if I had never met you, I would not be feeling the pain I am in right now. BUT if I had never met you I would not have known the love, friendship and happiness we shared or have wonderful memories to treasure forever.

Goodnight my Darling, See you in the morning. X


29th June 2011 A POEM FOR MY DAD BY SARAH HELEN WOOD.

Before Alan passed away, his daughter, Sarah wrote a poem for him. I read it to him and he loved it. You can read Sarah's poem here along with two others; one written by Alan's youngest sister Marilyn, the other by his life long friend, Glynn.

A Poem for My Dad

You used to bath me and wash my hair,
You always dried it with so much care.
You put me to bed and you sat with me
And talked about the sounds of the sea.
We share the same birthday, I was your present,
Not sure what you thought, I hope it was pleasant.
You taught me to ride my first bicycle,
This made me feel big and very cool.

Not sure how easy I was to teach
But we rode round the forest and went for walks on the beach.
When you were younger you created a bomb,
Then in 2000 you created Wyenot.com.
Holidays to Brean to see the eclipse,
Days out at Three Cliffs Bay and other nice trips.
DVD nights and telling a joke,
A funny man, a brilliant bloke.

A strong person, extremely brave.
I will always treasure the love you gave.
Not just my Dad but one of my friends,
I will love you until my life ends.

My Brother Alan

From being tiny you were always there,
Big blue eyes and trademark long hair.
Taking me with you to meet your crowd
There was never a time that I wasn't allowed to go with you.
I was probably there when romance began!
Following you, hanging on to your coat tails.

You took me everywhere
Never embarrassed to have me there -
The Wimpy, the zoo, the fair, the park,
You took me exploring and always made sure I was safe.

It was you I stayed with at the weekend,
From Wolseley Road to Ross-on-Wye,
Always welcomed at your place.

Always loving, caring and kind.
You are so special in my heart and mind.
I love you more than words can say.
You're my big brother and always will be.
I love you.

My Best Man

Bicycles, bands and Barking, images of our youth,
No hands past the policeman and other acts uncouth.
Fusing lights with sixpence in billets where we stayed,
Stink bombs in the flag poles, for our souls they prayed.
Playing in the craters, leeches in the rain,
Exploring derelict houses, let's do that again.
Secret trip to Portsmouth, you said you wouldn't tell,
Match maker and diplomat, you did that very well.
Ham radio in the stairwell, a vision of the stars,
The author of A Universe, sharing Ross and Mars.
Best man at my wedding, laughing at my jokes,
Inspiring friend forever,
Best of all the blokes.

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