Soham Grammarians - Reg Brown SG47

Reginald Arthur Brown 'Reg' (1936-2018)
CE Fuller & Co, Funeral Directors, Soham

Reg Brown's 'A Service of Thanksgiving and to Celebrate [his] Life' took place at St Andrews Church, Soham on Tuesday 27th February. It was said that Reg was "perhaps the best known person in Soham" and despite snow earlier and a bitter wind, the church was full, many standing. During the service we had some sunshine.

Revd Colin Watkins, Ely & Newmarket Methodist Circuit, explained that Soham Methodist church at Berrycroft was too small for the number that were expected to attend Reg's service. He thanked the Priest-in-Charge, Rev Eleanor Whalley, for providing St Andrew's for the occasion. After the service, Reg was buried in Soham Cemetery. The Gathering was at Soham Town Rangers Football Club in Julius Martin Lane. Soham Grammarians John Dimmock, Trevor Brooks, Fred Eden, Richard Dean and Frank Haslam were among those attending.

Waiting in the freezing wind for the funeral procession to depart for Soham Cemetery. Reg was accompanied
by Standard Bearers from several RBL branches and one from the Parachute Regiment Association : source Haslam

Order of Service

The service was conducted by Revd Colin Watkins, Ely & Newmarket Methodist Circuit, assisted by  Rev Eleanor Whalley, Priest-in-Charge of St Andrew's, Soham & St Laurence's, Wicken.

Processional Music Ride of the Valkyries: recording: Band of the Parachute Regiment
Rev Eleanor Whalley: Welcome on behalf of Anita and Marie
Hymn: Lord of all Hopefulness
Words of Approach
Family Tribute: written by Anita, read by Revd Colin Watkins (see below)
Tribute from the East Anglian Traction Engine Society
Tribute from the Royal British Legion/Parachute Regiment
Hymn: Abide with Me
Reading: Romans 8: 28, 31b-35 & 37-39: Rev Eleanor Whalley
Address: Revd Colin Watkins
Music for Reflection: from the New World Symphony, Dvorak
Poem read by Rev Eleanor Whalley: Death is Nothing at all, Henry Scott Holland
Hymn: Oh Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Poem: read by Rev Eleanor Whalley: Rainbow Bridge
Last Post
Airborne Prayer
Recessional Music: Ride of the Valkyries: recording: Band of the Parachute Regiment

This is the tribute from the family, written by Reg's widow Anita, read by Revd Colin Watkins:

Reg was born in Soham Fen on July 6th 1936.  He was educated at the Soham Fen School and later at Soham Grammar School. After leaving school Reg went to work at Jeffersons printers at Ely, as a machine-minder. In 1956 he went to do his National Service of which we will hear more later and afterwards returned to his job of printing.

In 1957 he met Anita at roller skating in the Central Hall at Soham (now long gone).  They did not like each other at first but Reg later asked Anita out on a date.
As she had promised to go the pictures with a girlfriend, she turned Reg down. He claimed she was the only person ever to do so. A great blow to his ego.

However never one to be dissuaded he asked again the next week and she agreed to go.  Finding they had similar interests they stayed together and they married in 1960. In 1963 they had their only child, Tony, who sadly died very suddenly in 2016.
As much as Reg felt the loss of his son he also felt he had gained a daughter in Tony's wife, Marie.

Marie has given me this to read:

Reg was not just my father-in-law, he was more like a father to me. He was always there for support and advice or offer words of encouragement when needed.  He was also a good employer and treated his staff well. 

There are not many people that are still working virtually full-time when they are 81 years old.  He enjoyed doing his very best for the families and went that extra mile for them. I have read many nice comments about him on Facebook.

They have all have one thing in common.  Reg was a lovely gentleman, who liked nothing better but to help people and talk about horses and reminisce about days gone by.  He will be sadly missed.

Thank you Marie. When Anita and Reg first married Reg was still working as a printer at Jeffersons but he took over C.E. Fuller the building and funeral business from his father-in-law Cecil, when he retired in 1964, 54 years ago.

Reg had many interests, he enjoyed caravanning, steam engines, square dancing, collecting old things and he had great fun doing Call My Bluff bygone quizzes with Anita and Tony. I know they will be greatly missed.

Reg had a love of dogs and a great love of heavy horses.

Anyone who knew Reg knows how much he loved talking to people.  Someone once told our Tony "if we ever see your father in the High Street and he isn't talking to people we will call an ambulance as we shall know he is not well". Just recently Anita was told "if I met Reg in the street I knew I would be late for my next appointment".

Although never being apprenticed as a bricklayer Reg built the house they lived in, taking up 12 years of their spare time.

Reg never lost his interest in printing and he bought a printing press to use as a hobby. Anita thought this would be to print illustrated blocks but Reg had other ideas.  He wanted to get type and print tickets etc., which he did for many local events.

After getting the printing press, Anita was asked "how would you like to go to Lowestoft on Sunday. We will need to take the truck". He had bought a load of type.
A few weeks later he asked "how would you like a trip to the New Forest?"  You guessed. More type, but we didn't need the truck this time.

These trips were not unusual as Anita had been used to "how about a trip" to a certain village or town.  "I want to see where the church is". Or "I need to find the house where we are to start the funeral from, and we need to time the journey".  It was therefore quite pleasant to have a better reason to go on these trips.

Reg would never retire but told people he was semi-retired, but Anita never really understood where the 'semi' bit came into it as she noticed very little difference.

He was still conducting funerals in December until it became impossible for him to do so through ill health. Although he was unable to get out and meet people in his last few weeks it didn't stop him from chatting away to anyone who called.  Anita expects he is still chatting away about old times to whoever will listen now.

Reg enjoyed life."

The Tribute from the Traction Engine Society referred to Reg's love of bygones, his restoration and preservation interests and activities, and the active roles he and his late son Tony had played in the Society.

The Tribute from the Royal British Legion/Parachute Regiment again spoke of his active role in the branches of these organisations. When he did his National Service he did his training in the Catering Corps and was then posted to the Parachute Regiment. He was keen to do the full para training but injured his leg. He served in the Middle East and Cyprus. He enjoyed being able to wear his beret again at re-enactment events and successfully trained and competed as a Standard Bearer.

In 2009 Beth Lane (the widow of Brian Lane) wrote: "Roger Lane's service was taken and the eulogy spoken by Reg Brown, the funeral director. As you can see there were several Old Grammarians present and many other people too. Very pleasing when you consider that the service was not in the local church and just shows the high regard that Roger was held in.

The memorial cards from the Soham Grammarians were given to the family and we asked the Grammarians to sign one of them. Brian tells me that Roger's son Philip who is in the photo helping to hold the memorial card is in fact the last Lane who attended Soham Grammar School."

L-R: Bill Hawes - John Driver - Clive Bray - Tom Crawford - Tim Dickinson
- Reg Brown, holding our Memorial Card - Brian Thorby - Philip Lane - Brian Lane
- Donald Monk - Owen Barber: photo via Donald Monk.

Those who were at SGS in the last few years of the School may remember the Three Boys sculpture that was placed in the garden. Mike Rouse wrote in 2003: "This is now displayed on a splendid wooden plinth (kindly provided by Reg Brown of the Soham funeral directors CE Fuller & Co. and made by one of his craftsmen) in the SVC Resource Centre."

Mr John B Browning OBE MA (History 1947-51, original author of the school history) gave the talk at the Soham Grammarians' 2008 Reunion. In his first year at SGS he was Form IIA's Form Master:-

"Form IIA 1947-48. No one explained to me why the Reception year as they call it now, the first year, why it was IIA and not IA, as I believe it became later. Looking at those names I am not going to mention more than one or two, but I can close my eyes and see most of them now.

Their importance was this. They were the first of the elite youth of this country that I faced, some 30 of them. It took me back to my days as a very junior subaltern, when I was taken out of the line by the Company Commander and sent to thirty scruffy, pimply, bristly blokes “This is Second Lieutenant Browning, your new Platoon Commander”. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing and by God, neither did I [laughter]. So I had to recall to myself that having faced the brutal and licentious soldiery I could think to possibly face the elite youth of Britain.

These lads had something to do with it. I think of Reggie Brown, he covered himself with glory. I set the form a composition My first day at Soham Grammar School. He wrote ‘Our form master is Mr Browning and he is a very nice man.’ Reggie got 10/10 [laughter]. He deserved it, didn’t he, for his perception?

Then there was Butcher, JB. John Brian Butcher. I said to him “Butcher, with initials like that, JBB, you can’t go wrong, I forecast a wonderful future for you.” I was right, was I not?

FORM IIA 1947-48

No of boys: 30
Bailey, DG
Basham, BES
Black, DK
Brown, RA
Bullman, KI
Butcher, JB
Coombs, T
Coulson, DG
Creak, LH
Cunnington, RJ
Day, KC
Doe, WJ
Fordham, JJ
Gulliver, DTC
Hale, E   

Hunt, P
Lythell, CJD
Murfet, ED
Murfitt, OC
Nicholas, BJ
Norman, D
Oakey, DC
Rutterford, BR
Shaw, AE
Spanton, DS
Sparkes, DJ
Turner, MR
Waller, JV
Watson, JM
Watson, VG
Murfet, ED*

*(as distinct from Murfitt OC) known as Duffy – I recall him because he used to draw the ground plan of cathedrals on the back of his ruler. That was what was called in our days as creepy … you see he knew Browning was interested in history.

On certain afternoons in Summer we used to go by coach to Newmarket Baths – you remember that? – for swimming. On the coach I was accompanied by my dear friend Francis Catala. Donald Spanton, known I think as Spanno, suddenly gave forth on a Teresa Brewer song Put Another Nickel In The Nickelodeon. If you remember that, I do, it was such a catchy tune I had to sort of grit my teeth not to join in, not just the tune but the words.

But they [Form IIA] were very important, I do mean this seriously, because I think if I hadn’t found them such a delightful lot, I might well have sought other employment. Some of them are here tonight, I’m delighted to have met you – Mike Turner and John Waller of that IIA" [they stand to receive applause].

Frank Haslam SG'59' & website editor: Reg at Fullers was pointed out to me early on as someone "who knew" -  and, yes, I quickly learned that did not mean Reg Fuller. I visited him and Anita to look at the old school photo [1929] they had with names on the back. Reg would keep me informed of funerals of Grammarians. He attended our 2012, 2015 and 2016 Reunions. And as for many of us it was to Reg our family turned when it came to arranging a local family funeral, my father's in 2009. 

He can be seen on the May 1949 School Photo, part 4/12, row 1 #3

If you can add further memories of Reg Brown or provide photos of him when at SGS, please contact the editor.
page added 1 March 2018