Eric Charles Walford MBE, As a Young Man
Some of you reading this will remember him but to others he’s just a name, so here is what is was like growing up with him as my Dad, and how he dealt with life every day, behind the scenes of his public and professional life.
In his young twenties, he was a tall dashing man with round glasses who looked a bit like Glen Miller, and before he was registered blind, used to work in the gentlemen’s outfitters called Meakers in Streatham High Road, until his sight became too bad. He was diagnosed with RP about the age of 21, sometimes known as tunnel vision, or Retinitis Pigmentosa to give it its full name.
So he knew he would go blind. But this didn’t deter him. After registering as partially sighted, he trained as a welfare officer for the Blind. That meant he had to go away for quite some weeks to do his training.
He was captain of the boys Brigade. The 36 London BB Company and as he was an accomplished jazz trumpeter, with a love of jazz music, especially Glenn Miller, he also became Bandmaster the Boys Brigade band and the Girls Brigade band. They performed at many competitions. I remember many years going to the Hornchurch band competition where he won many trophies, he also wrote new Marches for them and I still remember the tune he named ‘Alpha’.
They used to march once a month to church parade, through the streets. Dad was a great marcher, with his BB Captains hat and officers stick under his arm.
Every year the boys Brigade would put on a Christmas concert and dad would have to learn lots of words, song words and spoken words for the sketches which he would do around the house every evening and I I’m sure I still know all the words to the whiffenpoof song and Albert and the lion. Dad had a brilliant memory, but that’s only because he used it every single day and had to rely on it.
Look out for the next post about his early days as a Welfare Officer for the Blind in Merton