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Page last updated 27.6.18
David Brook, a life well lived - a report by Rob McKenna, 27th June 2018
I was surprised and saddened to hear the news that David had died on Friday, 8th June aged 77 years. The cancer that prevented him from orienteering recently had spread and he spent the last couple of weeks in St Oswalds Hospice where he was extremely well cared for. Much loved husband of Sheila, loving dad of Martin, Katy and Stephen, he was also a proud grandad. The funeral was at the Newcastle Crematorium, West Road on Wednesday the 20th June at 10.30. Friends and family were invited to The City of Newcastle Golf Club, to further celebrate David's life and raise a glass or two in his honour.
David was born in Mirfield - a small town near Huddersfield, to parents Annie and Lewis Brook in 1941.
Here, from an early age he was introduced to ‘Town’ football, which his sister Pat still keenly supports, leading to regular after match telephone discussions. Now living in Newcastle he found it difficult to know which team to support on the odd occasion when they played each other. However if Barcelona were playing then there was no problem! He was also introduced to cricket and from the age of eight or nine was seemingly ‘scoring’ for his father's local club. This could have led to his interest in Mathematics and also his pleasure in analysing the scores from the two Bridge club games which he managed to get to twice a week in recent years.
David went to Manchester University to study Mathematics and Statistics and obtained his PhD there. Whilst there he enjoyed the Maths walking club and spent many happy weekends in the North West of Scotland which remained one of his favourite areas in the country. He came to the University of Newcastle in 1965 as a lecturer in Statistics and went on to serve in many other roles as acting Head of Department, Chair of Board of Studies and Senior Tutor in Science. He also managed to act as a selector of top grade entry to statistics for the Civil Service. He retained an interest in cricket, playing for the university staff team then ‘The Adders’ for many years. He was fond of telling people that he captained a team which contained Mike Brearley, who went on to be captain of England.
David served his community as Lib Dem councillor and also as Deputy Leader of Newcastle City Council. In 2008, his service was recognised when he was made honourary Alderman of the City.
David always had a keen interest in the countryside and outdoors, enjoying long walks in all weathers, appreciating the scenery, flowers and wildlife - particularly birds. One of his pleasures since retiring has been feeding and attracting a wide variety of birds to the garden which he would enjoy from his favourite seat in the ‘so called’ garden room at coffee time whilst doing a variety of puzzles in The Times. A visit was made most years to Majorca to see the spring migration at the Albufera Nature Reserve.
Orienteering kept David fit physically and mentally. He first became involved in orienteering which some called “cunning running” in 1965 when it was quite a new sport - starting out with Kenton Kanterers, before joining Lanchester Orienteers (now Northern Navigators). This led to many weekends travelling to forests and hills and acting as controller for many major competitions. Scandinavia where the sport flourishes became a very popular holiday destination for David, particularly Sweden where the six day international event attracts more than ten thousand competitors. He regretted that his recent illness led to last minute cancellations of planned participation in 2017.
As you can imagine, David developed a love of navigating mountains and peaceful camping holidays by Swedish lakes. Camping was very much enjoyed and for a while, he and Sheila had a caravan called ‘Conkers’ at Rothbury which was easier for the children to enjoy at the weekends. Stephen remembers collecting wild mushrooms and bilberries and camping there under the stars - having the constellations pointed out to him. David's interest in astronomy led to three trips abroad to Turkey, Zimbabwe, and France with Martin to view the total solar eclipse of the sun. Martin inherits his interest and went on to do a degree in Astrophysics at Uni.
Once retired David and Sheila embarked on holidays further afield - enjoying tours of India, Sri Lanka, Africa, The Caribbean and a fantastic trip to Galapagos appreciating the different culture, scenery and wildlife in different parts of the world. He particularly enjoyed his trekking trip which he did off the beaten track in Nepal.
His son Martin, wife Rose and daughters Lucy and Elise; daughter Katy, husband Andre and boys Luca and Oscar; son Stephen, wife Melissa and boys Stanley and Archie were all dear to him and although they lived in Sheffield and Bristol, he was always keen to visit them. He was delighted that his dear daughter Katy's eldest son has a keen interest in cricket. One of his young grand daughters was asked in class what the abbreviation PM stood for - she volunteered that it was what Grandad called the crisp note he slipped her whenever they met!
As you can see, David has led a very active and full life and he was often heard to say “I've had a good life”.
David was a good man who will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.