Fords remember patriarch
- Credit: Archant
Staff from one of the Sid Valley’s flagship companies turned out for a spectacular tribute to its ‘driving force’ and patriarch.
Apart from a two-year stint in the armed forces driving tanks in Germany, Derek Ford spent his entire working life at Fords of Sidmouth.
The middle of three boys, he left Wellington School at the age of 16 to join his grandfather, father and brothers in the family business.
He started out as a plumber, enjoyed various roles, then gradually rose through the ranks to take over the reins.
The company has taken many different directions over the years, from its original existence as an ironmongers shop to the multi-faceted trade and home service it is today, with Derek always the driving force. He was still working full time on the day he was taken ill.
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Always positive and upbeat, his mantra during weekly board meetings was: “We have to keep it whizzy whizzy. Keep upbeat, never in the doldrums.”
His family said there was never a problem that he could not find a solution to.
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Sidmouth-born Derek thrived on work and took holidays because his wife Janet, who he married in 1957, enjoyed them.
Outside of work he was a keen sportsman, playing squash and rugby – but his real love was horses.
While at school he taught horse riding and would often bring home the plough horse and put it in his dad’s garage. He kept horses throughout his life and taught his children, Tim and Susie, and his granddaughter, Beth, to ride. Derek and Susie regularly travelled around the UK together competing in trial riding competitions.
His other love was motorbike trials, and Derek competed throughout the South West with his brother, John, and friend, Frank Newton. When Tim took up motorbike and car trials, Derek was more than happy to travel the length and breadth of the country with his support vehicle.
The Ford family said this week: “Derek will be sorely missed by all those that had the good fortune to know him.”
Derek died on November 26 at the age of 81. His funeral was held on Wednesday and was followed by a procession of some 40 Fords vehicles along The Esplanade. Derek’s family said he was proud of his engineers and vans and would have been pleased to see them show their last respects in this way.
“He always liked to drive along the seafront, so it was fitting that it was his last journey, accompanied by his engineers,” they said.
The vans followed Derek past Fords, where the flag had been lowered as a mark of respect, each tooting their horn once at the Bowd to say goodbye.
“He was upbeat, optimistic, caring about family and workforce, fair and a gentleman,” said his family.
“There will never be another Derek.”
He leaves his wife, Janet, his children, Tim and Susie and two grandchildren, Beth and Alex, and a successful, thriving business.