C/Sgt Alan Wilbraham
5th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers

Alan Wilbraham
Family Tribute
by Granddaughters
Joanne and Clair

Ten years ago at my nanna's funeral I promised Gramps that I would write and read something similar at his funeral so here I go.
Over the last few weeks it has become even more apparent that Alan was many things to many people. Husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, friend and to some here, Alan 22134489. That number was something he was incredibly proud of and he still used it in many ways. I would explain further but I'd have to make you all sign a secrecy contract first. But to me, he was and always will be Gramps.
Gramps had a love of history, I think he was somewhat disappointed that neither me not my sister showed any interest in this field, although my cousins have more than made up for that since. He could recount historical events in great detail, both famous events and those from his own past. his stories would always start with "I don't know if I've ever told you but..." His knowledge always came in handy when we had history homework to complete. Although I didn't share his passion for history, I humoured it and took him to Vindalanda to look at, what my Nanna called "that wall" and the British Museum when we were down in London.
A few days before he died he told us the story of when he got his first job. There were two people who went for the interview, Gramps and someone who I think was called Martin Manson, although don't hold me to the name. Gramps told the person interviewing him that his father was a printer, and he got the job! Gramps always said it's who you know not what you know.
Gramps liked his food, and until the last few years, enjoyed the odd drink too. My cousins loved the special lemonade that he used to make them. It was only after that my aunt and uncle discovered he had actually been giving them shandy! He shared a love of whiskey with my husband Ben. The first time that he met Gramps, I had to walk him around the block to sober him up before taking him back to my parents' house. Most times we visited, the first question was "who's driving?" even at 10am.
Gramps would eat almost anything and until recently had a huge appetite. He once ate two puddings because they were buy one get one free and the two things he hated wasting most were food and money! He enjoyed the most random of foods, he could eat things well past their use by date, but never got poorly. Imogen and I once took him to Wing Wahs (an oriental buffet) and we were there for hours as he sampled most of the foods.
Nanna and Gramps loved to travel and amongst other places had visited America, Egypt, Spain, Malta and Portugal together, sometimes taking Aunty Dot with them. Gramps would normally make friends on their travels and enjoyed keeping in touch with them once they had returned from their holidays.
Someone recently reminded me of Gramps' ability to give directions. If you were setting off on a journey, he'd usually get the map out and give you helpful suggestions about your route. On one journey back from the Lake District we visited Whitby and Chester...on the way back to the same day!
We took Gramps and Nanna to see the poppies at the tower of London and he was delighted to stay at the Union Jack Club. He decided that he wanted to use the tube while we were there, which was fine until it came to our stop and Ben and his mum got off the tube, the doors closed with me, nnana and Gramps still on it and sped off! We had no idea where we were or where we were going but we had a good laugh about it later.
Gramps gave me my love of the outdoors, albeit sometimes from the comfort of a coffee shop. Most Sundays we would wrap up warm and the three of us, Nanna, Gramps and I would head off to one of the nearby National Trust properties with the dogs for a walk. I once went walking with him in the peaks, a route he regularly walked. When he got slightly lost he took out his map, a tourist map of the Peak District...with all the coffee shops on but no public footpaths!
Gramps tried to keep up with the times, he had a mobile phone and a laptop. But I don't think there's a single member of the family who hasn't been involved with setting and resetting passwords for email accounts and online banking! And he never got the hang of sending an email without needing to call the person he had emailed to say there was an email on its way!
Gramps thought the world of Nanna, growing up I remember staying over at their house where he'd bring her breakfast in bed in the morning. Nanna would encourage Gramps to dress smartly but he was more comfortable in joggers and jeans, the older the better! But when he dressed up, we was very dapper, a cravat and tie pin to complete the look.
Gramps, thank you for showing us all the importance of following your heart and standing up for what you believe in. I'm sure lots of us will remember our heated political debates, lots of which I know I started because I loved to see you fired up and passionate about those topics! And as someone said the other day, he was very interested in other people and what they had to say and their experiences. He would always make times to listen to what you'd been up to, asking "so what do you know, what's new?"
He was incredibly proud of all of us. Of Nanna for taking care of him through their married life, but especially more recently. Of my dad and Aunty Cheryl for pursuing their own very different pathways in life. Of his daughter in law and son in law for their contributions to the family in many different ways. Of my sister, Jake ad Owain for following their own interests at university level and of course of Imogen who has been offered places at top universities to study this coming September.
He would always take the time to find out how his great-granddaughter Lily was doing in Gymnastics and swimming and loved seeing great grandchildren Olivia and Grace develop over the last year, having an especially close affection to Olivia. Lily says she hopes wherever you are you are using both walking sticks like she's told you to lots of times!
We will continue to try to make you proud of us all in all that we do. We will talk with fondness and laughter at the good times that we have all been so lucky to share with you.
Try to stay out of trouble, and if you can't manage that, cause trouble with that cheeky grin and glint in your eye that we all know and love.
But for now Gramps, in the words of nanna, night night and God Bless.

Don't cry for me when I am gone
You know yourself that life goes on
Think only of the time we had
The things I did that made you glad

Think of the parties, the dancing too
The fun, the jokes, the songs we knew
The children giving us so much pleasure
The photographs of me you'll treasure

You'll do and say the things I said
Because they are still inside your head
We do not die, I shall always be there
Walking beside you everywhere

Lift up your head, don't break your heart
For you and I will never part
I'll always love you, you know that's true
So laugh and be happy, I'll take care of you