Monday, 10 November 2014


Dave (left) in character role with Terry Price
  Probably it was on a visit to The Crown for a tipple or two, I first met Dave Garratt and his wife, Kathy. They had  been in Goostrey only for  a short time but they were already full on into community life and making friends fast. That was only a decade or so ago but Dave had slipped so seamlessly into the village to spend a well earned retirement, it may have been thought he had been among us for many years. Dave, who villagers will know by now, has sadly died aged 66, moved with Kathy to Goostrey in February 2004 from Milnrow, a pennine village near Rochdale. Like our village, Milnrow has a thriving community  where newcomers are warmly welcomed. So it was not without a lot of soul searching  the couple decided to leave their home of 30 years for new pastures and Dave's early retirement from head of an international transport company. Their choice of Goostrey was a fortuitous move. Neither was aware of its existence, but Dave, trawling the internet found, the house of their dreams in the centre of the village. And for both viewing the property for the first time from their car parked in Mill Lane it was love at first sight. The move to downsize was prompted by a mutual desire to leave a one-in-ten hillside environment for a house on the level. Saying good-bye to their many long-time friends and neighbours, however,  was a great wrench, but Kathy was assured by Dave that if she ever wanted go back it would not be a problem.
Dave (centre) writing the results at this year's show
Kathy, who worked in an estate agency, says: "I said I hoped we were not making a mistake but as soon as I walked across the road to the house I thought this is for me. I was worried about him because he  had worked 70 hours a week. It had always been work with him, but he loved Goostrey and it was here he learnt to relax. I went with him once or twice to the Crown because we knew no-one to begin with but that soon changed. We got to know a lot of people in the village as a result  and Dave  used to meet friends there on a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday almost until the week he passed away. He said from very early on here that there was no place like Goostrey and he did not want to move anywhere else". And the Gooseberry Show particularly appealed to him  as part of village life. So much so that as well as a novice grower with promise, he became secretary and was among the first to support its launch of a float as part of  Goostrey rose day. Dave's sense of fun always ensured it was a great success, and this year he was unabashed wearing a pink voluminous dress and curled wig as a character in its theme of the Wizard of Oz. When I started this blog,he was the first to sign up as a follower! A friend said: "You could not have met a nicer person than Dave. He would do a favour for anyone and his loss will be felt by many people in the village. When he became ill only weeks before he died, he made it clear he wanted no fuss and did not want to discuss it. He must have been suffering great discomfort at times but he continued almost to the end to meet his friends at the Crown. His bravery in the face of a terminal illness was incredible." Dave, who was born in Wythenshawe, was a lifelong Manchester City supporter and season ticket holder. He died soon after listening to City's defeat of United in their derby game."He did not have his eyes open but heard the game and he put his thumb up when they won," said Kathy. Since Dave's death, she says she has been swamped by kindness and the number of people offering support and calling at the door to offer condolences and with gifts of flowers and even food has been incredible. Kathy has also praised the care Dave received from the medical services and Holmes Chapel Health Centre since he was diagnosed with cancer. His funeral at Davenham Crematorium this Wednesday will be a celebration of his life. The coffin will be shouldered by former social friends from Milnrow known collectively as the Loonies.And so many friends and former colleagues have expressed a  wish  to speak about Dave and his life that twice the time has been allocated  to say farewell. Dave leaves his wife, Kathy, and their son, Lee, who lives in Derby, and daughter, Sara, from Brereton.
Graham Lenihan, a long-time friend of Dave and Goostrey Parish councillor, had known him since they were five-year-olds at school, but lost contact for some years. They were delighted to find they lived in the same village when they met up by chance at the Crown.
In an appreciation "My thoughts on my friend David Garratt" Graham recalls how they met at Rackhouse Junior School in Northern Moor, Wythenshawe, where Dave was noted for his football school skills and visits to headmaster Mr Leach to see the benefits of toeing the line! 
"During this time David became a scout and this was where we spent all our time, either in Wythenshawe Park playing wide games or camping. Here David excelled at British Bulldog! He moved on at 11 having passed the eleven plus and got a place at Wythenshawe Tech and then after O levels at 16 he became a shipping clerk in Manchester. It was then he met Kathy and was smitten with the girl  who was to become his lifelong love. David worked for different companies in Manchester until he got together with a couple of likely lads and started a business called Cardinal Maritime which has become one of the largest freight forwarding companies in the country. He was fanatical about Manchester City and loved Manchester, organising what became Old Gits days out. We visited the roughest parts of the town, and if we go together with the 'Rochdale Mafia and Choir' there were experiences that can only be described as surreal! After David and Kathy moved to Milnrow their circle of friends became even bigger. David was the sort of friend that we all look to have. He would do anyone a favour. Always buying his round at the bar. He was a gentleman. OK he wasn't perfect - he could not sing and his dancing was not up to the standard for Strictly. But David Garratt was heck of a true gentleman and one hell of a nice guy!

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