Stuart was born on Saturday 11th October 1980 at 9.30pm at the old Redhill General Hospital. He waited until the Dinner Dance was underway and then made his appearance in his usual rush, with our doctor only just catching him as he was born.
Rosemary’s first comment was on how small he was – the lightest of all our children at only 6lbs 2oz. Who would have guessed he would grow to be the tall, strapping young man that he was. A placid baby who was content to let his big brother amuse and torment him until he was old enough to retaliate!
Stuart attended a playgroup and then started his school days at the old Reigate Parish Church School. His all round talent for sport soon started to appear, and can you believe he learnt to play the violin. Just picture it – the agonies we suffered when it was time for his daily practice.
After his first term, grey shorts became the order of the day, and he never wore long trousers again until Secondary school. He said they got in the way when he was running, and the bonus was that there were never any holes in the knees to mend!
Reigate Priory School was next, and it wasn’t long before we were on the sidelines watching him play either there or at South Park Football Club.
Many a wet and windy Sunday morning was spent dashing from pitch to pitch if his brother Simon was playing as well. He was never any trouble to get to school, as the earlier he got there the more time there was for footie before the bell went.
The football season ended and we had to find something to occupy this sports-mad young lad. Cricket was the obvious choice, as like his brother before him, his Grandad had bought him a tiny cricket bat when he was born. The Attridge men, from Grandad down, are known for their cricket and it wasn’t long before Merstham Cricket Club had another colt on their books, joining his father and elder brother.
Many happy hours were spent in the sunshine with Mum doing the teas and sister Lucy persuaded to bowl a few balls so he could practice. It was certainly better than standing on a football pitch! It was soon obvious that he was as talented a cricketer as he was a footballer, and he scored his first hundred in an adult game when he was only 16.
We have numerous trophies – Player of the Year (a number of these), Most Improved Player, Man of the Match, Sportsman of the Year and many more.
The school holidays were never a problem as our two boys were either down the park or at Donyngs doing something ‘sporty’. Street corners held no appeal for them.
The Ashcombe at Dorking came next and his sporting reputation had gone before him. It wasn’t long before he was picked to play football, cricket, basketball, etc all over Surrey – and this continued until he left 6th form.
We must not forget that academically he was no fool. Although he played down his ability in the classroom, he left school with 11 GCSEs and 3 A levels. Having passed his driving test, a Vauxhall Nova was the ‘in car’ of the day, and Lucy can remember the times they got home on a wing and a prayer because he was nearly out of petrol.
University held no appeal, so having no idea what he wanted to do he decided to stay on with his Dad at the Manor where he had been working part time. Gradually he took on more and more responsibility, until three years ago he became Graeme’s deputy and Operations Manager. Our regular male customers found him friendly and polite, and the ladies loved him for his charm and the hugs and kisses he gave away.
His designer clothes were legendary – especially his ties.
He had so many friends of both sexes, who have been a tower of strength to us. It is no secret that he loved a pretty girl on his arm and was, so we are told, an incurable romantic. The red rose industry will suffer without his custom, and jewellers will be closing! It is a tribute to him that all his old long-term girlfriends and their parents have been to see us. We are sure there were many more we know nothing about.
When the girls weren’t about, the boys were to be found round his flat playing the never-ending Championship Manager computer game – which they never seemed to tire of – and drinking lager.
Holidays in Ibiza, Turkey, South Africa, Las Vegas, New York and Spain with friends, and lastly, the precious week with his big brother in Shanghai. He lived life to the full.
Stuart was kind, generous, loving, adored son, brother, nephew, cousin and loyal friend. The world is a poorer place without him, but we try and remember how lucky we were to have had him for 25 years.