Obituary: Sister's moving tribute to Harrogate man Gordon Marks

The sister of a much-loved stalwart of Harrogate Chess Club and experimenter of science whose funeral is being held at Stonefall Crematorium in Harrogate today has praised the superb care he received in his final months in a moving tribute

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 27th May 2022, 1:27 pm
Updated Friday, 27th May 2022, 1:29 pm

Jenny Littlewood said of her brother (Edward) Gordon Marks

"He was a member and secretary to the Harrogate Chess Club for over 40 years.

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Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate .

"He founded the Harrogate Lunar Society (with Terry Collins and Philip Purkis) an international experimental science society promoting all aspects of science but most especially curiosity and observation in the ordinary and everyday.

"He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer arising from undetected prostate cancer.

"He was mostly managing till a fairly steep decline in the last 10 days of his life. He wished to die at home.

"As with many people, his life and end were complex as side effects of one of his drugs to treat the cancer, was dramatic.

The late (Edward) Gordon Marks of Harrogate.

"However, we had superb help: crisis intervention occupational therapy team at the week end following hospital discharge giving way to Bluebird care team and Medi-quip aids following an assessment by members of a team from North Yorkshire County Council.

"The drug side effects were managed by the crisis mental health team with general practitioner and psychiatrist monitoring daily.

"As his decline deepened, these teams gave way to the district nurse terminal care team and general practitioner to help make oppressive symptoms more manageable, and provide some level of peace and rest.

"In that short time, members of the chess club would wander in and watch ‘Casablanca’ with him, staying to coffee and sandwiches, and helping him to the lavatory chatting about old matches.

"His usual Friday night fish and chip supper in the pub, was held on the Thursday in the house with a gang of six round the table singing old songs (Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile) whilst my brother looked on and sang; his friends from ‘wooding’ (chopping wood into faggots for sale for charity) came along, John Shackleton with dog leading the way into the bathroom to say hello, others standing round the bed whilst he slept, nodding and wishing him well.

"Then there were the moments in the garden, waving to the neighbours, watching Viv a long-time family friend, do some gardening, singing all the Welsh songs he knew, which were considerable.

"Philip coming in with a magical array of spanners and fixing a wobbly table, Terry sorting through paperwork, garnering ‘junk’ and generally smoothing things out, Agnieska Bak and her cleaning company working round the washing and washing up.

"Neighbours especially Sara, remembering to put out the recycling for us, dropping in to nod and say hello, leaving a box of biscuits, another neighbour with a gift from Audsley’s master butcher, or a paper from his local Coop, or give a hug.

"In the end his last two days were in hospital with a good team there, but not what he had wished for.

"Still, his many friends up to that point, had shared old times, films, a meal and said good bye.

"Harrogate was so beautiful.

"The blossom was stunning, it almost equalled the impact of quality of care we received, and the precious time given us at home with friends, neighbours and family."

Acknowledgements by Jenny Littlewood:

JE Audsley, Harrogate, The Coop, St Winifred’s Road

North Yorkshire Health Authority and County Council, Kashmir Kaur and Wood Schofield

Dr Maw, John, Sonja, Jo-Anne, night team of district nurses for terminal care, and others from the Spa Health Centre Mowbrey Square

John Shackleton, Margaret, Mick, Dave and many others as part of the charity for Croatia et al

Bluebird team, Alexander Road, Harrogate, all but especially Evi and Howard

Crisis Mental Health Team (for Harrogate based in Alexander House, Ash Tree Road, Knaresborough) especially Mark, Cathy, Ben and Graham and psychiatrist Dr Hearnshaw