Bill Howes (BGS 1945-51)
William Pannell Howes – the Pannell was his mother’s maiden surname – died on 29th May 2013 at the age of 78.
I first met Bill when I was in the first or second form at Boston Grammar School. He was a couple of years ahead of me and a group of us were playing near the Hussey Tower on what became the school’s playing fields. Bill joined us (it wasn’t an auspicious meeting), we had an argument, probably about cricket and who was out and he approached me in what I would describe as a menacing fashion. I grabbed his fingers and bent them back hard. He yelled out with pain and I legged it home to Pilgrim Road and avoided him for several weeks.
Later we made it up and I became part of his gang, who all lived in that area of the town, near the back of the Boston United ground, a team we supported together for years.
I became a member of the Horrin Club, which was formed by Bill with two lads from my form: Dudley Barrett, who after Bill’s “Ho” formed the “RR” and Gordon Wain whose last two letters made up the Horrin. Our club house was a shed in Dudley’s father’s back yard. Girls were strictly excluded, apart from Dudley’s sister who said she had a right to be in her dad’s shed. Others joined us from time to time including one of Bill’s classmates, Titch Howard, who was in fact taller than me!
I worked during the school holidays in a marshmallow factory and would bring the misshapen ones for a feast on occasions. A large bottle of Bulmer’s cider provided the drink; a combination I wouldn’t suggest you try.
Bill’s father had died when he was very young, years before and Bill became almost part of our family. He really looked up to my dad and listened to his experiences of life and took them in, more than I did.
We used to go swimming with other lads at Hob hole Bank, played cricket in the Park and even went on holidays, once to stay with Bill’s sister and family at Dyce, near Aberdeen while we even splashed out to stay at the Grand Hotel, Scarbough for a week before I did my national service, deferred until after I had been to Nottingham University. Bill had done his bit in the RAF at 18 and had returned to his job at County Hall in their offices in Bank Street.
We also played table tennis a lot, a hobby Bill kept up for many years long after I had left the town.
Saturday nights meant dancing, or rather chasing girls, at the Assembly Rooms where Bill met his future wife, Ruth and I met mine, Janet and we became a foursome. I was his best man in 1959, and he was mine almost exactly a year later.
While his wife went on teaching in between having two girls and a boy, Bill went to Nottingham University and became a social worker. He eventually was put in charge of a home in London Road, not far from his home in Linley Drive.
In the next thirty years our meetings were only once or twice a year, but we stayed at each other’s houses and I never failed to visit him whenever I was in Boston to see my parents and sister.
After his early retirement, his health went down sharply: he could barely see and later barely walk. When Ruth had her own health problems, he became her carer rather than she his and eventually she had to go into a home where she predeceased him.
During those painful years he always managed to stay cheerful or at least put on a brave face. He was the best friend I ever had and ever will have. We played and laughed together and dare I admit it, got drunk together too.