Thanks to all who came to my Father’s memorial service yesterday at Bell Street Methodist Church. This is our tribute to my father.
My father believed he was under an obligation to serve the public. This belief came from his upbringing as the son of a Methodist minister, as a survivor of tuberculosis as a child growing up in Bedchester and as someone who considered himself privileged in being given a fine education at Priors Court and then Kingswood in Bath.
Those in this church today recognise that he fulfilled the obligation he considered himself under. It manifested itself in his life through his career as a Doctor and his political activities, most notably as Leader of Dorset County Council.
My personal definition of “hard work” references my father’s appointment book when he was a GP. The Red A4 diaries would often have over 40 house calls in a day. Many of his patients relied on a visit from Dr Tapper. The visit was as important as the treatment. Throughout the sixties, seventies and for most of the 1980s, Dr Tapper’s mini wove the lanes between Ashmore, Iwerne, Fontmell and across the Blackmore Vale. This service went way beyond anything that could be called a job description – it was a duty that he carried out happily.
When my father retired as a Doctor, he did not relent in the pace of his attack. In an interview, he gave to the Guardian in 2001 he explained that when he unexpectedly became the first Liberal leader of Dorset County Council, he discovered that the existing council had been underspending their social services budget by 23%. He told the Guardian
The Tories had been spending the money on roads. I admit that since my time as leader, the roads in Dorset have deteriorated and I’m not ashamed of that.’
My father was the opposite of a “woolly liberal”, he got things done.
People in Shaftesbury know him for his work providing secure accommodation for older folk. Butts Mead House, Chubbs were early projects, but it was Castle Hill House and then the Cedars – which are his most remarkable legacy in Shaftesbury. His understanding of geriatric medicine, his political nouse and that sense of public duty made growing old in and around Shaftesbury – a lot easier.
Everything he was involved in, Refereeing for North Dorset RFC , Norcat, Lindlar Hall the St Johns Ambulance and latterly his Bridge Clubs, benefited from his involvement. He never gave less than everything. That was part of his public service obligation
But to him, his work as a doctor and politician came second to his devotion to Methodism. As a practicing Christian he bore witness to his faith in a caring and loving God. His Christianity was practical and effective, it was consistent in the way he brought up his family as it was in his work as a Methodist local preacher.
He was a man of letters, a president of the Hardy Society, a postal historian and a philatelist. He was a vicarious walker and sang in the style of King Louis, that he was the king of the Ramblers. He was a botanist and a gifted recorder player, he was a lusty singer – especially in these pews.
Following my tribute, my brother Albert will be reading something he created. He was a gifted versifier and – as you will hear –his verses sometimes became poems.
He was a County rugby player, a village cricketer and a very poor golfer. He could not be beaten at table tennis.
He leaves behind him four children, all of whom are here today, but the most important person in his life was my mother, who you all know. As well as being a dedicated doctor, a fierce politician and a polymath – my father was a good judge.