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Cliff Jacob


Cliff Jacob, who died on September 18 2014, was born in Islington in 1929. He was the youngest of thirteen children and during the war was evacuated to Cambridge with two of his sisters. He returned to London before the end of the war and had memories of fires caused by German bombs. He left school at the age of fourteen and undertook an apprenticeship in the printing industry.


Lance-Corporal Jacob prints for the army during National Service

Cliff did National Service from 1947 to 1949, serving mostly in the Canal Zone in Egypt and working for the army as a printer. It was a time of rising tension in the zone as the Egyptian regime began to press for the canal to be returned to full Egyptian control.   Later Cliff worked in Fleet Street as a compositor and was also a leading trade union figure during the era when the print unions dominated the newspaper industry, although he finally moved into management. When Cliff retired he bought a print machine and other equipment and ran a successful business from his garage in Hayes. He retained a keen interest in politics and current affairs.

Cliff was married at a young age and had a daughter, Eleanor, by his first wife in 1953. He met his second wife, Margaret, at a ballroom dancing school in 1958. Both were keen dancers and they won numerous competitions in East London and Essex. They moved to Hayes when they were married in 1962. For a time Cliff had two jobs as he worked to support his young family: Debbie, born in 1965, and Clifford, in 1966.

Margaret and Cliff on holiday in 1994 (Photo John Hills)

Margaret and Cliff were always fit and active and when Cliff was in his 70s he still liked to display his prowess as a ballroom dancer, particularly in jive and rock and roll.Cliff enjoyed bowls and belonged to the Hayes Country Bowls Club, later joining the Crystal Palace Indoor Bowls club. He followed football and was a life-long supporter of Arsenal. He and Margaret were keen travellers and often took holidays abroad.

Cliff enjoyed singing and his first choir was the Spring Park Choral Society, which he joined in 1995. He moved to the CMVC in 2000. His first concert was at Sevenoaks in 2001 – which was also the first concert conducted by the choir’s new musical director, Richard Hoyle. Cliff was a loyal member of the second tenor section and he and Margaret took part in most of the choir tours until he retired through ill health and infirmity in 2012. He and Margaret continued to support the choir and regularly attended our concerts.

Both children acquired their parents’ interest in music. Debbie was a member of Ravensbourne Operatic Society and the West Wickham Operatic Society and regularly featured in their productions at the Churchill Theatre as a dancer.  Clifford’s musical talent was on the keyboard and composing hymns for his Bromley church, where he was a leading member until he moved to India. He was unable to fulfil his ambition of becoming a missionary but stayed in India where he continued to compose and play his keyboard for churches.

Cliff at Cudham parish church in 2006 (Photo Phil Talmage)

Debbie’s husband Peter, who gave the eulogy at Cliff’s funeral on September 30, described him as “a doting father whose love and support continued through their childhood, school, university and onwards. He was a family man and proud of his children and their achievements.” His second daughter Debbie had two children, Rebecca and Joshua. Peter said: “His love and support was wholly evident to his grandchildren. Ask the children how they remember their grand-dad and they recall him being supportive, funny, kind and generous.”

Cliff lost touch with his first daughter Eleanor for a time and was delighted that they were in contact again when Eleanor was an adult. Peter said: “He always offered her supportive and kind advice. She was able to build a warm relationship with her dad and the rest of the family that has meant a great deal to her.”

Margaret was Cliff’s life-long support and her lively, generous, and ever-cheerful personality infected everyone she met. She was full of vitality and energy and she is still running Keep Fit classes in the Hayes area. Margaret’s smiling, happy disposition wins over everyone she meets and her devotion to Cliff was unwavering to the end.

By John Hills

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