Derek Fricker  1944-2016

The funeral will take place on Friday 13th January 2017 at 12.30pm, at St Georges Church, Anstey Nr. Buntingford, Herts. SG9 0BY

Dereck Fricker and I first met in 1951 in the sitting room of the piano teacher who lived in a flat two floors above my grandparents in the Samuel Lewis Trust Dwellings, Highbury. Derek grew up in a house on Liverpool Road near to the Lewis Buildings and we met regularly as our piano lessons were in adjacent slots, that is until the time we both gave up receiving piano tuition! It wasn’t the lack of practice on both our parts, but as I found out in later years, a dislike of that particular tutor and her very stern approach to her pupils! I used to call at his house on my visits to my grandparents and we became good friends. Although we attended different primary schools, the friendship continued. It was quite a surprise to us both when we heard that we were going to go to the same secondary school.

Derek was at Holloway School 1955-1960. He (like me) was one of the 200+ boys who arrived at Holloway when it was transformed from a grammar school into one of the country’s first comprehensives. The new school buildings with their state of the art gymnasia and workshop blocks, extensive playgrounds and a magnificent hall with its sloping concrete roof and glass sides was quite a revelation to us both.

To our great surprise, we discovered we were both to be in White House! Like others, he was very loyal to his ‘House’ and surprisingly competitive especially at inter-house cricket competitions. He was a natural team player and was well liked. Derek fitted in to this new educational environment exceptionally well, aided of course by an enthusiastic staff, supporting a system which borrowed the grammar school traditions of Holloway but allowed a degree of vertical streaming and mixing of pupils of differing abilities. Derek soon found his forte was more aligned to matters ‘technical’ and he joined clubs which enabled him to spend more time in the metal and wood-working workshops than the official teaching curriculum dictated. He left Holloway in 1960 to start work as an apprentice electrician. He progressed well and eventually ran his own electrical contracting business. Derek had joined the Old Camdenians soon after he left school and was a strong supporter of the Old Boys Association, its ethos and of course, the cricket team.

Derek and I maintained our friendship throughout his school years and also after he left. I was his ‘best man’ when he married in 1966 and we have seen one another fairly regularly ever since, despite living some 300 miles apart – he in north Hertfordshire (and recently, Suffolk) and me in Plymouth. It was Derek who eventually persuaded me to join the OCs and to attend the Annual Dinner/Lunches and to meet up with some other OCs who had attended Holloway during the same years as us. I hadn’t joined earlier as I didn’t think I could participate or contribute to OC activities living so far away.

Derek was by then showing a number of signs of ill health and was regularly attending Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge for a variety of cancer related treatments. He phoned me in September to tell me that he had now been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and was to undergo further specialist treatment. He’d previously experienced so much chemo and radio therapy that I thought his system couldn’t take much more. Nevertheless, he was determined to see it through to Christmas and to be with his wife, Carole, their daughters and grandchildren. He finally succumbed to AML and gave up the struggle on Boxing Day.

Actually, we didn’t see one another that much at School, being in different forms but I do remember regularly sharing a seat with him on the top deck of the 617 trolleybus en route to the School’s playing fields at Bow Lane. However, during school holidays we were inseparable. Two particularly fond memories relate to escapades during our early teenage years when we terrified shoppers and tourists as we raced around the West End on roller skates and on another occasion caused traffic mayhem on Tower Hill when we fell off our borrowed bikes as we pedalled across the cobbles. He was the brother I never had, a great and kind-hearted friend whom I will miss enormously.

Peter Sims (31.12.16)