Delivered by his son, Tim, at the Requiem service for our
Lay Reader Emeritus and friend at All Saints on November 5, 2018.
My father, Charles Graeme Hely, was born on 21st October 1928, the third and youngest child of Charles and Edith Hely, in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.
He had two older sisters, Mildred and Dorothy. Their father was originally a Lancashire clogger but turned to making and repairing boots and shoes in his own shop.
+ Early years +
When Graeme was just five years old, his mother, Edith, died from diabetes. Two years later his father married Bertha, the daughter of Salvation Army officers, who from all accounts put up with no nonsense! Graeme was very fond of her but he said that in those days, the blow came at the same time as the command: “Now get up those stairs!”
He took on a variety of jobs as a mechanic, a shoe-salesman and on the railways. In 1946 he was called up for National Service in the Royal Air Force and was posted to Egypt and the Sudan. He was working in the Canal Zone in 1948 when the British Mandate ended in Palestine and the state of Israel was founded. The first Arab/Israeli war which followed soon after left a very deep impression on Graeme.
On his return to the UK, he finally listened to his sister Dorothy’s promptings and took correspondence courses to further his education. He passed the open Civil Service exams and was posted to London as a clerical officer in Customs and Excise.
+ Oxford, Bangor and Colonial service +
Always interested in political and trade union affairs, at the age of 26, but without any formal qualifications, he won a trade union scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford, to study Political and Economic Science. Following his time at Oxford, he won a national scholarship for mature age students which allowed him to complete his degree in History and Economics at the University of North Wales in Bangor.
He then entered the Colonial Service, serving for three years as a District Officer in what was then Northern Rhodesia. One of his tasks was to help in the re-settlement of thousands of villagers when the Kariba Dam was built on the Zambesi river and Lake Kariba started to fill – flooding hundreds of square miles of bushland.
+ Glasgow, and marriage to Jane +
However, these were the last days of Empire. Returning home, Graeme moved into adult-education, first at Manchester University and then as a Lecturer in Economics in the Extra-Mural Department of Glasgow University, starting in 1965.
One of his first classes took him down to Dumfries where one of his students was a certain Dr. Jane Bulman who was working in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the local hospital. At the end of the term they went their separate ways – Graeme to continue teaching in Glasgow and Jane to the Makerere hospital in Kampala, Uganda.
But in April 1969 they met up again. In a whirlwind romance, they became engaged in June and married in September. Sons Paul and Timothy followed shortly afterwards.
Graeme continued working at Glasgow University for over 20 years, completing a Masters degree in Education and Management at the tender age of 57. He was appointed as the first Staff Development Officer and held this post until he retired in 1991.
+ Retirement +
Many people here today will have known Graeme in what was a very long and happy retirement. Who here has not been bossed by Graeme to line up in a photograph!
He was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather to Maia, Kai, Astrid, Felix and Fleur.
He loved to play golf at Hilton Park and he loved to support Partick Thistle – despite their ups and downs. (For those of you who aren’t Jags fans, I am afraid it is more downs than ups at the moment!)
He took up painting, often giving pictures as presents to friends and family who, he said, were too polite to refuse them!
+ A life of service +
My father’s life was one of service and support – in the National Service, the Civil Service, the Colonial Service, the trade unions, promoting and delivering adult-education, working with charities and as a Samaritan, supporting his family and friends, his community, and of course the Church.
Graeme served on countless committees, vestries, on the General Synod and as Diocesan Secretary for Glasgow and Galloway. He was Lay Representative, Lay Reader and church organist in All Saints for many years, and he also acted as an editor with the Wycliffe Bible Translators.
+ The Christian life +
My dad was an active Christian – but he also liked a joke. So while I can hear his words ringing in my ears, “Now get on with it!” I would like to finish with one of his favourite jokes – you’ve probably heard it – and I will try and tell it quicker than he would have!
A river burst its banks and flooded a house. And the water was rising up. A fire-engine drove past and the firemen shouted to the man inside to climb across the ladder to safety. But the man inside said, “Don’t worry! God will save me!”
The water rose further and a lifeboat went past. The lifeboat crew shouted, “Climb in the boat.” But again the man shouted, “Don’t worry! God will save me.”
Finally, as the waters rose further, a helicopter flew overhead and the pilot shouted down to the man on the roof, “Climb up!” But again the man shouted, “Don’t worry. God will save me!”
Sadly, the man drowned and went to heaven. And he said to God, “God – why did you not save me?” And God answered, “I sent you a fire-engine, a lifeboat and a helicopter! What more did you need?”
For my dad, God was always there for you – but you had to do your bit too.
For many people, Graeme was the man with the ladder, the crew in the lifeboat, the pilot of the helicopter. He offered support to everyone who needed it – and he made a big difference to many lives.
I give thanks for his love, his kindness, his service, his wisdom and his good humour.
+ Key Dates +
- 1928, 21st October: Graeme was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. Third child of Charles and Edith Hely. (Sisters Mildred and Dorothy.)
- 1934: Mother died.
- 1936: Father remarried to Bertha Ward. Joined Salvation Army.
- 1939: Eleven plus scholarship to Ashton-under-Lyne Grammar School.
- 1943: Dropped out of school and Salvation Army band.
- 1943-1945: Apprentice motor mechanic, shoe salesman, railway clerk. Music exams for piano – ALCM, FVCM.
- 1946: Family moves to Colwyn Bay, North Wales.
- 1946, November: National Service in the Royal Air Force. Served at home and abroad, in Egypt and the Sudan.
- 1949, March: Demobbed – back to railway work in North Wales.
- 1949–1951: Studying at home by correspondence course.
- 1951: Passed Civil Service examinations. Posted to London as a Clerical Officer in the Customs and Excise.
- 1951-1955: Customs and Excise, London Port. Involved in Trade Union and Staff Association. Secretary of the London Port branch, Civil Service Clerical Association. Entered for Trade Union education scholarship.
- 1955, October: Scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford. Obtained Diploma in Political and Economic Sciences. Entered for a National Scholarship for Mature Students.
- 1957–1960: Three-year scholarship to University of Wales, Bangor. Read History with Economics – graduated Honours 2/1 in June 1960.
- 1960–1963: – Overseas Civil Service, Colonial Officer – District Officer in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia).
- 1964: Appointed Staff Tutor in Holly Royde College, University of Manchester.
- 1965: Appointed Lecturer in Economics, Extra-Mural Department, University of Glasgow.
- 1969: Married Dr. Jane Bulman.
- 1970: Paul born.
- 1972: Tim born.
- 1985: Sabbatical – completed Masters Degree in Management and Education (M.Phil). Appointed Staff Development Officer, University of Glasgow.
- 1991: Early retirement.
- 1991 onwards: Positions on numerous committees of the Scottish Episcopal Church, serving under four Bishops. Lay Reader and subsequently Diocesan Secretary of the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. Served on local, Diocesan and General Synod committees.
- 2005–2010: Convenor of the Provincial Personnel Committee.
- 2018: Graeme passed away on 28 October, just a week after his 90th birthday.
+ Funeral +
A Requiem service in thanksgiving for Graeme’s life was held at All Saints, Jordanhill, on 5 November, before his committal at Clydebank Crematorium:
- Entrance: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring
- Processional: Be still, my soul, the Lord is on your side
- Collect for All Saints
- Epistle: Ephesians 1: 3-6
- Psalm 16
- Gospel: John 17: 20-26
- Offertory: Abide with me: fast falls the eventide
- Communion: Saviour, again to thy dear name we raise
- Recessional: When morning gilds the skies
- Nunc Dimittis:
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation;
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.