The family wishes to extend thanks for all the support and comforting messages during this time of bereavement.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to Wanstead United Reformed Church, a place very special to Chris, either on the day or by contacting the church directly on 020 8989 2426.
All are welcome to join us at the funeral to celebrate Chris’ life. The service will begin at 11:00 am on Friday 13th January at Wanstead United Reformed Church.
For those who wish to attend virtually, we intend to live stream the funeral at this link. All you need to do is click the link and watch as the stream plays when the funeral begins.
The family intend to enjoy a drink locally in Wanstead, most likely The Cuckfield, after the service, where all are welcome to join in tall tales of Chris.
A Tribute by Duncan Walker
Chris Walker: 72 going on 18; he always said he dreaded getting old. Witnessing the inevitable challenges that the longer lived face in their twilight years, he would say, “just shoot me,” or “pull the plug.” To think, only a few months ago he was in relatively good health for someone of 72, an age no longer considered old by societal norms, he escaped his fears with a swift exit; kind of his style really.
And, as he would have wanted, and we would have wanted for him, he kept his trademarked tense of humour right up until the end. I remember sitting with him at hospital following heart surgery in late October; he was still intubated but interacting with his own unique style of sign language. Yes, he did even ‘flip one doctor the bird’, amid an exchange of banter and they loved him for it.
Which is, of course, one of the reasons we all loved him: his lighthearted and jovial spirit that said, unashamedly, “take me as I am, or jog on!”; and, to me, he will always be the master of Dad jokes: “what’s this ear?” and, when I would say, “I have an idea!”, he would ask me how much it hurt; and, I guess it rubbed off on me somewhat. I recall one of the few times I had him in stitches: on my way out to join friends in Town, he said, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” to which I replied, “What’s that then and where am I going to find an ostrich at this hour?”
Chris had a warm heart as reflected in the messages of condolence shared in the wake of his passing. Obviously, people are unlikely to be quick to share criticisms in such circumstances but when more distant acquaintances take the time and effort to make kind comments, it, perhaps in some ways, says even more about him than when old friends and close family do.
It was telling that, when news of his death hit the Addison Road WhatsApp group, there was a flurry of sorrowful responses and remembrances of such a “lovely man”, someone with whom one could have “lovely chats and laughs”, who was “so welcoming and warm;” comments that were not strictly necessary by social media convention but that people wanted to give.
Chris loved many things. A genuine passion for music that saw him receive an unconditional offer to study at the Royal Northern School of Music; and, in true Chris Walker style, he then tanked his A-Levels, including music, because he just didn’t need them; but he pursued his love through a music degree and into teaching, which he also loved. Some of his pupils across the years have included footballer David Beckham and pop star Jessie J.
It is unlikely to surprise anyone who knew him that he did, on occasion, clash with senior management for his very firm ideas on how things should be done, but that he really was an excellent teacher, was never in question. I recall my mother telling me on numerous occasions how former pupils had sought him out to thank him for his efforts and care in their education.
Chris also dedicated himself to the church. Through the years I would hear him talk passionately about issues and challenges around renovations, utilities, in particular, heating, sound systems; but it always struck me, never petty criticisms of other people. In fact, attempts at humour aside, I do not think I once heard him genuinely judge another human being; apart from maybe politicians, but hey, he was only human.
Of course, his nature to get things done, but only the way he believed they should be done, left him highly effective but not so great at building contingency for when he was unavailable. So if anything goes wrong today we can just blame him: and he would find that irony so funny! Just as he would today’s date. When looking at potential funeral dates around three to four weeks from his passing, today was just too perfect to pass up, because I know he would get a kick out of having his funeral on Friday the 13th.
Chris had a love of aircraft, particularly historic planes. I have very fond memories of accompanying him to airshows as a younger teenager. He was a “Friend of the Imperial War Museum” for many years and we made regular trips up the road to Duxford. He enjoyed doing his best to photograph aerobatics but perhaps it was a little lost on him that, by their very nature, manoeuvres are not done justice by still photographs; and, despite investing in some quite powerful zoom lenses, it’s fair to say we have inherited a large number of photo albums containing dots in the sky.
Many of us will remember Chris the socialiser. Chatty, verbose, sometimes a bit brash; sometimes a lot brash depending on how late in the night and how much had been imbibed. He loved mixing with people, and all kinds of people. I remember I held farewell drinks with friends I mostly knew from school before I left for my second tour for Afghanistan and my Dad was amongst the last of us standing: just one of the guys, universally welcomed.
But it wasn’t always quite so action packed. My dad had taken to filling hours of his evenings with an almost compulsive habit of watching every American police procedural television series that Sky had to offer: FBI, NCIS, CSI. And then, of course, there were the spin-offs; if there were ever a ‘CSI: Scarborough’, you could bet he would have watched it, and I loved to throw a little abuse his way about it.
I will miss him; I enjoyed talking with him; I enjoyed drinking with him; I enjoyed laughing with him; those were the best of times. Though he did escape the chance for any long drawn out decline robbing him of really living life, which he would have hated of course, he, and we all, have also lost the chance for more of those best times. But let’s not be greedy, there were plenty of those across 72 years; or 40, for me. Instead, I intend to focus on a life well lived and fond memories I can treasure forever.
I will now read a poem my dad had found and liked, for when a loved one passes:
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.
After the Funeral Blessing
My father used to speak of his wish for what’s about to happen; that we would play a certain piece of music at his funeral, and though I did point out, many a time, the irony of the lyrics for someone who lies down a lot: in respect for his wishes, we give you, for his final send off, Elton John, I’m Still Standing [music plays].
A selection of floral posies. Approximate sizes are:
A beautiful range of sympathy baskets. Approximate sizes include: