Jane Bwye

A Celebration of Roy's Life



Roy is now at peace. He was ready to go, he told me, at 1.30 am on the day of our Golden Wedding Anniversary, 1st July, 2017. We'd made it!

He waited until our two eldest, Colin and Jo (from Australia) could arrive, and Kathy and Anthea spoke to him on the ‘phone in hospital. Even Dennis, (from Kenya) and Heather were able to kiss him goodbye a couple of hours after his passing.

Our family had already arranged to gather for a celebration; it was still a celebration, albeit a different one than expected. And I’m amazed that everything fell into place at such short notice.

Roy’s elder brother Garth passed away the day before Roy. His sister Babette is the only one left.

A 30 year-old bachelor, Roy took me on – a widow with three small children. And then we added 3 more of his own.

He was an all-round sportsman, but his passion was rugby. The highlights of his life included playing for East Africa against the British Lions, and the Springboks. With his one hand, he was known as “hook” by his mates at Impala Club in Nairobi, where he would prop up the bar after games. A habit which has rubbed off in varying degrees on a few family members.

Roy had a wide circle of friends from his sporting days, and also from work. Over the past few years I have been floundering in the extraordinary environment of Facebook, and have received messages from strangers in many parts of the world, asking if I was a relation of Roy Bwye.

His first job was at Survey of Kenya, doing shifts alongside a moving population of operators; photogrammetrists, producing maps from
 aerial photographs on enormous computer-like machines. He was there for 12 years.

Soon after we married in 1967, he and his cumbersome machine were “taken over” by a firm of consulting engineers in Nairobi, Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners, headed by Mac McCorkindale, the best boss anybody could wish for. Roy worked there for 25 years before taking early medical retirement.

At first, he still worked shifts. I remember half-waking up in the middle of the night as Roy got up, and put on his clothes to go to work. In no time at all, it seemed, I was disturbed again as he got back into bed… In the morning he jerked awake, utterly mortified that he’d missed his shift. That was the only time it happened.

He stopped playing rugby. I didn’t make him stop – I swear – I wanted him to carry on. I enjoyed sitting on the sidelines watching with all the other wives and babies. But no. He was a husband now, and a father. He had more important duties. He was like that.

As a family, we played hockey, tennis, and squash. He refused point blank to get up on a horse, but he  built jumps on cross-country courses, and put up temporary stables for pony club events. Every time we moved house, his first task would be to build the stables.

And later on, he turned to Sunday cricket. Friends at our local church, St. Wilfrid’s, have grown to know Roy over the past 17 years as a faithful washer-upper, for as long as he was able. Roy and his cronies used to huddle in a corner after Sunday services, exchanging views on test cricket.

Roy was a gentle man, much loved; quiet, and humble. We enjoyed many wonderfully happy years together. For the past quarter of a century, he has patiently suffered, from illnesses too numerous to mention.

He was a man of principle.
His favourite song: Danny Boy sung by Paul Robeson. His favourite poem:


If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, 
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, 
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken 
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, 
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, 
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 
If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, 
And lose, and start again at your beginnings 
    And never breathe a word about your loss; 
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew 
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you 
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, 
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, 
    If all men count with you, but none too much; 
If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!










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Thursday, 10 August 2017 14:54