Fond Farewell David Twitty (Photoblog)
A 'Sentimental Journey' in memory of David Twitty 1939-2012. RIP Dave.
(Photos: Alison Bruce-Stone)
'Somewhere between sunrise and sunset. I will remember you.' (Sunrise taken in Malta. February 2012.)
Such sad news of Dave’s passing reached me at far distant shores while my Husband Geoff and myself were away on holiday in Malta recently. Such sad news indeed of which tears were shed. I take comfort that I had the chance to write to Dave in hospital just before our flight departed to Malta. (Thanks to Jen, Angie D and Steve Ransome’s first forum messages) Dave would also have loved the little lens camera cleaning cloth I had enclosed inside his glorious golden sunset boat get well card to brighten and cheer him up. I was comforted in the knowledge that the caring nursing staff made Dave's remaining time more comfortable and dignified. And, that he was not alone.
I left home on the cool morning of Monday the 12th March at 9.20am taking a 20 minute short local bus journey, then hopped on to a local train to Stoke before catching the mainline trains. As I sat on my own on the platform seat at Stoke-On-Trent Railway Station waiting for my train to take me to Birmingham to bid Dave farewell at his funeral the next day, it gave me time for reflection as I read to myself Dave's Fuji profile (29th April 2009) It read in Dave's own words.... ’Pensioner now living on my own - in Warwickshire for last 20 years but 1st 50 in Worc's. Been a Fuji member since April 2006 and entered every comp since Sept that year (32).
Grew up in the country so like rural pics & canals etc - worked on railway towards the end of steam so like trains - And love listening to music - especially Military & Brass Bands - Favourite - Royal Marines Bands,’.
David loved his trains passionately and it was poignant that I took such a sentimental journey on three trains which speeded along the long winding train tracks to be at his funeral at the other end to bid him fond farewell.
As I settled down on my seat the train began its fifty minute journey to Birmingham New Street Railway Station. Staring through the window I remembered how Dave was very much on my mind when I knew he was ill in hospital. I knew the seriousness and implications of his Pneumonia. (My Husband fought a very long hard battle for his life, and brought back to life three times, just over two years ago resulting in 6 weeks hospitalisation and 7 months off work) I therefore, was comforted to know my lovely chatty letter enclosed in Dave’s Get Well card sent to the hospital prior to me going to Malta that I was able to thank Dave for all his lovely comments and support which he had given to me personally over the last two years since I joined the Fuji site.
Dave had made an impression on my life from the beginning when I first joined as a Fuji member in January 2010 for he was the very first one ever to comment with his... 'Great idea- like it!!' on my very first competition entry on the 'Thrifty' theme (18/1/2010) I had submitted a Black & White photo taken with my Fuji F70EXR camera of two slices of bread pegged on my washing line and aptly called it 'On the Breadline.' It was the beginning of my Fuji friendship with David Twitty.
Dave and myself were night owls, like a few others who burn the midnight oil on the Fuji site. Dave and myself always posted our competition entries at about the same time in the early hours of the morning each and every month. I tried to let Dave submit his photo before me as I knew the joy and delight he took in being near the beginning of a new competition theme. It was also then we would have our 'conversations' online and only a few weeks ago we saw the New Year in together when Dave was first to comment on my Spider photo (1/1/12 at 00.46 ) ... 'Very well caught Alison - you not celebrating either?!!' It was to be Dave's last comment on my entries and how I miss seeing his avatar profile picture pop up on the screen and his little 'Like it!!' comment. Dave's last competition entry was the crossroads where he lived for many years.
Somehow posting early in the month now, does not feel the same for me without Dave. I do take some comfort to think that as he sat alone in his home he wasn't lonely as he 'talked' to his many, many Fuji friends like myself and shared his life as we knew it and his passion for photography.
As I looked through the train window I could see Birmingham New Street Railway Station. I then found my platform and boarded my third train of the day from Birmingham for the forty minute journey halting at nine stops before I would stop at my final destination reaching Redditch at the end of the branch line. Dave's gallery photos and photoblogs were etched in my mind. Like his photo he took of 'George' the old character perched on his mobility scooter and the tale Dave told how he would chat to George in town. Then there was Dave's one legged duck titled.. 'I want to be alone!!' Not forgetting Dave's montage pictures of Coventry and his witty stories of travelling to town. In Dave’s words...'on the bus for a pair of trousers as the zip had broke last week'.
As I gazed through the train window as the train passed Barnt Green nearing my final stop for Redditch, I saw this faded tree in a field (by the Inn we were to later visit and I took this photo) I recalled Dave's message in the forum (August 2011) It was a thread titled 'Ok-Whose nicked it?' when he had posted his 60th consecutive entry for the Energy theme. Who could forget Dave's self portrait photo titled 'No energy left' to which he added his own brand of humour to the caption with 'Never did have a lot though!!' The picture of him slumped in his armchair taken on self timer raised smiles but also many concerns. Dave also loved the scroller but often missed seeing his photos scrolling. I used to leave him a message when he was on it and Steve Ransome used to screen save them for Dave. Dave's self portrait gained 72 likes, 164 varying comments and much to his delight Dave made it on to the Home scrolling Page and he wrote these very words ....' Thanks for the support folks, very much appreciated. I've just checked and it's missing from the scroller - at least it made it though - for the third month running!!'
My train finally slowed to a halt at the very end of the line in Redditch which lies just south of the West Midlands. I took time to take a backward glance and look at the modern train I had travelled on and how I wished for Dave it could have been one of the old trains of yesteryear like the old steam train named 'The Bellerophon' which was built in 1874 and is one of the oldest steam engines to be seen in action anywhere in the world. I believe Dave's last forum posting was 'Missed the train again' Submitted by David Twitty on Sun, 08/01/2012 - 17:11 Quote in Dave’s own words.....'It will be 17 years on the 4th of next month since I moved to my flat here. As a lover and former worker on the railways in the days of steam I've yet to see a steam loco pass on the line about 100 yards from me.' Dave continued to write...' So I was gutted when I read in our local Weekly paper today that our local Fire & Rescue water tanker had topped up "Trojan" there on the Friday afternoon before last. Evidently it was raining and getting dark. It must have been there for some time so should have given me long enough to get some shots - and use my flash gun if I'd known about it. I hadn't checked the steam site for some time but when I did there was no signs of any coming this way!!'
I strolled to my hotel located by Redditch Railway Station and I sat in my room and continued my journal logging my blogging in memory of Dave. Dave certainly tugged heart strings. His personal photo of his very own hands cupped with a vivid purple border, titled 'No-one to cuddle!!' in the February's 2011 Fuji's 'Love theme' stirred emotions with his poignant image. It reached and touched the hearts of many members on the Fuji Finepix site who 'virtual' hugged him. Jen's comment echoed my own thoughts when Jen wrote... 'What a haunting title. You have been tugging the heart strings with this alright!'
As my pen flowed, Dave's phrophetic words came to my mind for just before last Christmas, Dave bumped up his own Forum thread as he pleaded to Fred for an exact time to launch the new competition themes so that he could be one of the first along with a few others. Dave wrote to Fred...'Bump again-surely you're not going to make me wait till Focus next March for a reply - if I live that long - are you Fred??' Dave received his reply from Fred. Dave continued to write in his thread and explain in his words...'It's not a race, but I'm usually keen to get going-and the only thing in my lonely life I'm interested in!!' (Those words so touched me as a few weeks after he wrote ' if I live that long', Dave sadly passed away.)
Myself and like many other members, probably echoed what Fujipat wrote.... 'Every month Dave's entry was the first I looked for and he was always able to interpret the subject in his own special way.' (words of Fujipat) It was just like Dave to take something close to his heart and turn it into a meaningful photo that meant the world to him. His entry for the Fuji 'Organic' and 'Home' themes Dave posted views from his window and his Fuji Christmas card entry was one of the wonderful winter Hoar frost on the trees. Dave added this into his caption .. 'I went to Coventry 5 miles away by bus and the trees and fields were like this nearly all the way!!' (Steve mentioned to me an hour before the funeral that Dave had said, and now I've seen Dave's words for myself on his 'Beautiful Morning' Photoblog where Dave wrote......'I can't remember ever seeing such a beautiful display of hoar frost'. Dave also wrote with his humour......'I went on the bus to Coventry – to get a washing bowl etc for my re-fitted kitchen and a pair of trousers –and came back over £200 worse off!!'
Later that Monday afternoon, I strolled the short distance into the town centre to take some photographs with my little Fuji F70EXR pocket camera, the only one I took with me. The Spring season was bursting into life with bright colours in the beautiful town. This scene of the Bandstand in the Church Green in central Redditch, jogged my memory of Dave’s photoblog on Royal Leamington Spa where he had taken photos of the leaves...again! (As he exclaimed) Dave went on to tell of his bus journey to the Jephson Gardens and the bandstands where he loved to watch the bands play and take photos in particular of The Warwickshire Band. Dave loved listening to Military & Brass band music especially his favourite Royal Marine Bands. In the park where he walked, Dave mentioned he loved to see the Temple, the flowing fountains and the lake and he was pleased to take a great picture of a grey squirrel. Dave was very proud to have one of his photographs framed of his earlier versions of the bridge, hanging on his living room wall.
I took a closer look at the Bartleet Fountain by the bandstand. The fountain was unveiled in 1883. It stands on a base of Yorkshire stone which supports a shaped basin bearing on it exterior a number of Icanthus leaves. (I could almost hear Dave shouting to me at that point..." photos of leaves ....again!" Dave loved his fountains and it left me wondering if he had ever stood in the same spot as me taking this photo himself.
As I was leaving the Northern end of the Church Green Gardens adjacent to St Stephen's Parish Church I spotted this lovely red flower. It was there, as I took this close up shot that I recalled Dave's 'Warwick Folk Festival Part 1' photoblog where he wrote 'I sat down on a bench to eat the Danish pastry and Eccle's cake I'd just bought (first ones I’ve had for ages) so took a couple of shots and changed my batteries!!' Dave continued 'The macro of the tub was supposed to be a "BOAF" (bee on a flower) but the bug looked like a wasp but tiny and was too small to see!!'
In Dave's follow up blog Part 2, he wrote.... 'As I managed part 1 easily (Had forgotten that it's much easier than it used to be - only about my second since it changed) I'll do this now - whilst my pork joint is roasting!! As I said in Part I - The focus is a bit "dodgy" on most of these, taken with my S100 FS - which usually takes the better pics.' unquote...Dave always added a touch of his wit in an unwittingly way. Only Dave would write 'whilst my pork joint is roasting!!' So as I was taking photos in Redditch Town centre I thought how much Dave liked to see the flower tubs, street parades, clog dancers, musicians and how he loved taking special events in the street.
As I turned around I took a low angle perspective of the church with the daffodils in the foreground. I had read an article in the Worcestershire News about Redditch’s market area, where I wandered around, just next to St Stephen’s Parish Church. (which I photographed the church here) It was renamed Mercian Square after the Mercian Regiment. The daffodils were lovely and colourful and reminded me of St David’s Day. I then had a browse in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre and went to a florist to choose some flowers for Dave's funeral.
I walked back to my hotel room (pictured here) and sat at the desk and gazed into my coffee cup as I recalled reading some comments from Dave dated from the middle parts of 2011 that he posted on the Fuji site. It was now obvious and more noticeable that Dave had become increasingly unwell and became virtually housebound. I had mentioned to Dave that I was thinking about him, to take care, sending him Get well messages like so many did in their comments. I had told Dave a couple of times that I wished I lived closer to him to be able to help with him with his shopping,errands or just sit and talk and chat about photography as I knew he was living alone and experiencing difficulties and frustrations at not being able to get out of his home. I had been housebound for months with illness and knew how it felt within four walls. As I sat alone in my hotel room, I began to feel guilty and wished I had made the trip to see Dave when he was alive.
As I looked out that afternoon from my first floor hotel room window overlooking the guest's car park, I smiled as I could imagine the ducks below just as described in Dave's photoblog about '(Not quite) A dawn chorus.' Dave was awakened at 6am one morning in June last year by the Mallard ducks 'chattering away merrily' and running around the car park outside his flat. Dave managed to take photos from the comfort of his home. Even the Give Way road sign Dave attached the following caption on his entry for the Angles theme ...'I was looking out of my window thinking about angles when I realised the solution was in front of me!!' It was clear Dave at this point was struggling to get out and about and many of his comments were indicating his predicament. In Dave’s reply to a message comment from Jim, Dave replied .. ’Jim - I'm still on here every day as usual - it's finding the energy to get out to the events to take pics if walking is involved - especially up hills!! I hate missing the military & brass bands I usually get to watch - only managed one so far this year!!'
Next morning I woke with a heavy heart. It was the morning of Dave’s funeral and my personal time to say goodbye to Dave. It was a month to the date since Dave's sad passing. I looked through my hotel window and could see Steve’s 10.22 am morning train arrive. I checked out of my room, handed my room key to reception and a few minutes later greeted Steve at my hotel entrance. We then took a taxi to Redditch Crematorium and as we sat at traffic lights we saw the daffodils (like this one pictured) bursting into life everywhere.
The traffic lights took a while to change as we watched the little birds in the garden hedges and undergrowth and saw a little red Robin darting in and out of the foliage (similar to this robin I took recently)
As we were waiting outside the entrance of Redditch Crematorium (which is situated on the northern boundary of the town adjacent to the site of Bordesley Abbey) I took a photograph of this beautiful weeping willow tree. The Crematorium is set in a peaceful location on top of a hill overlooking the Arrow Valley Park and offers serene views of the surrounding Worcestershire countryside from the chapel. The building has been designed to fit into its natural setting and in its design, uses many natural materials such as Welsh grey slate, copper cedar and pine wood. The lofty and spacious chapel is of simple design and from the pews the views through the large chapel window were far reaching the horizons and heavens beyond.
I had chosen classic Red Roses and white gypsophila. I had pre-printed a message to attach to the flowers, complete with a little picture of a camera, which read... David Twitty. 'With love Alison & Fuji Friends' I felt this was one small sharing gesture I could do. On arrival of the Hearse, the Funeral Director took the flowers and placed in the floral hall which was sited adjacent to the chapel where they were viewed after the service.
As we prepared to follow into the chapel, I softly touched Dave's coffin and the music began to play and my tears began to trickle.
Steve held my hand as we walked slowly to the front pew and then the service began. It was very emotional and touching.
I remembered that many Fuji members were thinking of Dave at the precise time of 11.45am on Tuesday 13th March 2012 and many candles and eternal flames were being lit in Dave’s memory. It was a warm thought to know there were many Fuji members thinking of Dave at that time as the words and prayers were being said. (Chris Gossop’s forum thread can be found on Fuji UK Chat on the 'Dave Twitty light your candle here' thread. Chris will post her candle photograph below in one of my comments box with the forum link. Thanks Chris)
At the end of the service, the Chapel was filled with the beautiful music from the Military Band and yet another little tear trickled and Steve once again, held my hand. Once outside, I stood alone for a minute with the gentle cool breeze blowing and whispered into the wind to Dave.."Thanks for being part of my life". Then Michael (Dave’s Cousin) suggested a group photo of the seven of us. (Two of Dave's friends had by then quietly left.) I had tried balancing my little pocket camera on the wooden railings on self timer but in the end a stranger took this photo for us instead. (I did mention that I would be posting this photo on the Fuji site.)
A few of us then proceeded to a most delightful charming Inn and restaurant in the pretty location in Barnt Green. Barnt Green is a village and civil parish in the Bromsgrove District of Worcestershire located immediately south of Birmingham. As we gathered seated around the table, we raised our glasses 'To David'.
Then came the recollection of different stories remembering Dave and as they unfolded, some had us smiling. Michael told me Dave's nickname was 'Penguin' in his younger days but we don’t know why. (Photo I took at The National Memorial Arboretum) I told the story of one of Dave’s photos that he had posted of himself in the 'Remember Remember' Fuji competition of his old photo dated around April 1960 titled 'Remember National Service?' Well, I personally don't remember, as it was literally at the time I was born, but for Dave he wrote in wonderful detail where he got a shock as he had to go on the firing range. Dave wrote in his words ... "The weapon was the Sterling sub-machine gun - the Sgt in charge asked if anyone hadn't fired one before - I replied that I had - 10 rounds - 25 years before (should have only fired five but got five extra as didn't hit anything with the first ones) - then - you can't fire these left-handed can you? (I'm left-handed)!! " unquote. Dave then continued to add ...'I was put on the end of the line and the Sgt kept well out of the way!! It was a good job we didn't have bayonet drill - I've got poor co-ordination so would probably have killed someone!!.'
After rolling back the times, it was then time to say farewell. We walked around the corner to catch the train at Barnt Green Railway Station, which is on the Cross-City Line (Redditch to Lichfield) and the Birmingham to Worcester via Bromsgrove Line. I had a quick moment to take a photo of the daffodils in full bloom in the village. I plan to plant some new Daffodil bulbs in my garden when the time is right, so they bloom bright and cheerful. A Spring seasonal reminder to remember David around the 1st of March each year (also St David's Day) Daffodils will also be my symbol of the times I shared with David on the Fuji site and the inspiration we gave each other.
So Steve and myself boarded the local train back to Birmingham New Street Railway Station. I imagined I had a ticket to ride on a steam train (just like this one I took at the Churnet Valley Railway’s 1940’s weekend) Dave worked on the railways towards the end of steam and loved his trains.
At Birmingham Steve and myself said our goodbyes. Then we made our individual ways to our train platforms and continued our separate train journeys onward home. As I boarded my train back to Stoke Railway Station, I reflected on the day and Dave’s life; the one I knew and the one in which he shared on the Fuji site through his love and passion for photography. Dave reached and captured the hearts, thoughts and sentiments of so many.
As I travelled on my last train which stopped at my local railway station (pictured here) before catching the bus home, I remembered some had said Dave may not have wished for a fuss. I'm sure he would have appreciated the heartfelt words and endearing touching tributes and messages as Dave did post one of his last messages in January 2012 thanking everyone for caring and the Fuji site kept him going even though he was weakening. The Fuji community certainly do show kindness and respect in times like this. Dave's gallery, hopefully, will stay on the Fuji site and will remain a permanent reminder of a good gentleman and a fine Fuji friend to so many.
I hope I have conveyed these heartfelt sentiments in a sensitive fitting tribute. I personally say thanks again to Dave, for my own personal memories, for the time we shared together of which Fuji and our passion for photography made us click together. I will cry no more tears. Instead I will smile and remember.
To you, Dave, my dear friend, you may be gone but I will never forget you.
Now, finally Rest in peace Dave travelling those great old steam trains of yesteryear in the blue sky and beyond. Fond Farewell. Love Alison xx
Special thanks to Dave's relatives, Michael and Rob for giving their blessing for me to tribute David with this special photoblog. My thanks to Steve Ransome for all his support, Brian, friends, Fuji and to all the Fuji Finepix members for sharing this sentimental journey with me... 'In memory of David Twitty 1939 – 2012 '
(Please feel welcome to place any personal message below. Thanks. Alison)
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