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last letter

The value of life is not measured by what you take out, but rather what you have put in.

wealth and success is not measured by what you receive but by what you contribute.

This was Ken de Souza’s philosophy as he travelled through life for 89 years.


Ken had many cherished friends, but more important to him was “being a friend”.

Ken was a man who cared about others and spent his life helping others.  Possibly one of the reasons why he was so well loved by so many. 

Ken was a person who didn’t like to see others unhappy or suffering in any way.  I don’t imagine that he wouldn’t want to see his friends tearful or upset today, but simply to put the kettle on, have a nice cup of tea and remember the good and happy times.  Therefore, I am sending Ken’s last letter but unfortunately he is not physically with me to correct the spelling mistakes or punctuation as normal.


Maybe he was not impressed by the hospital food, maybe he wanted to be reunited with Lillian, his wife whom he so loved, perhaps he just wanted to be at rest or maybe thought that I needed a Guardian Angel.  Whichever reason he is now free from the suffering and pain which privately he had going through.


Ken was many things to many people.  Known as “Doozy” to many hundreds of children whom he taught over many years he was the teacher who cared, the teacher who personally knew and cared passionately for every child in his charge even 60 years on. The teacher who had the ability to move around the classroom without being heard except when tearing his trousers on the desks, someone who was observed jumping onto the desks to turn the gas mantels to North.


 To his Cricket companions, he was the Left handed spin bowler who any batsman feared, if the side was losing the solution was always to put Ken into bowl “he’ll take the wickets” which he always did.  As an MCC Cricket Coach he was able to pass his skills onto many young lads. 


As a Prisoner of War, he was someone who brought cheer and entertainment to his fellow POWs forming the 70 Times a POW camp newspaper which he wrote and printed with his friend Hal before escaping and hiding with the Italians.


As a writer, during his school days using different pseudonyms, he wrote for several newspapers. Those who were every week entertained by the escapades of “Old Giles” will laugh when they know it was Ken all the time.  Many will have read the book he wrote “Escape from Ascoli” which was also translated into Italian.  He wrote it for his wife and to honour his caring Italian family Brugnoni.


As a husband, he was devoted to his wife Lillian, they were married at the outbreak of war and 50 years later celebrated their Golden Wedding. Lillian was, and still is, a part of him.


As a father, he was inspiration, encouragement, love and kindness packed  into one lovely person. Someone who was always there, who took an interest, who made sacrifices, who believed.  No matter what went wrong, he made it right.  He was always there to take my hand when I most needed it.


As a refugee, having escaped from the POW camp and hidden with the local farmers he was that nice Englishman who, undercover, taught the children in the local village. Who, passing off as an Italian farmer speaking Italian with a near perfect accent would be seen on his bicycle in the country lanes of Monte Urano, off to work on the farm, occasionally being stopped by German soldiers who would ask for directions.  He made sure he always sent them the wrong way!


As a helper, he was a man who wouldn’t retire, when the government said, “It’s time to retire” he just ignored them and went back into the schools helping children with learning difficulties, organising a Sunday School, forming a Youth Drama Group, working to bring children, irrespective of religion, together “as people”.  Holidays were spent in the local village school in Madseit Austria where he taught children French and English and filled the Austrian valley with singing, happy children.


As an Invalid, suddenly cut down by a stroke, which he considered a bit inconvenient, he could be heard singing, reciting Shakespeare and still getting up to mischief.  In 2001 he moved to Germany,  During the years several more strokes came affecting mobility, speech & swallowing, certain organs started not to work so well and various health problems arose.


As a survivor, having bailed out of a burning aircraft, Ken had walked 100 miles across the dessert without water.  During this time he was aware of a very real Divine Presence who led him and was around when all odds were against him.  A presence which he felt kept pulling him up each time he stumbled, making him go on an extra few steps to survival.


On Friday 4th May 07, I went to the Hospital where he was staying after having one of his “shaky dos” (RAF jargon for a bad turn).  We had lunch together then afterwards he turned onto his side, gave me a big hug and slipped away in my arms. 


The Priest gave him the last rights and once again the Divine Presence was there, although we couldn’t see or hear anything, he was probably saying

 “Come on Ken, take my hand, it’s time to go, I’ll look after you”!


Ken took his hand.






Ken was a person who would only do something if he knew it would help or benefit somebody else.  Ken loved children. Therefore, he wouldn’t want people to send flowers. It would make him much happier and be in his interests if a donation was made either to Dr Barnados or any other charity set up to benefit children.  This is something you can do privately and directly or via Moody’s Funeral Directors,  405 Lymington Road, Highcliff, Christchurch BH23 5EN

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