By René Thebault

Neilís Funeral - Eulogy

I was honoured to have been asked to say a few words by Niki.

Quite apart from the astonishing speed at which events unfolded last week, I am sure we are one and all equally shocked at how Neil has been taken from us at such an early age. Untimely as much as unexpected.

Despite this he achieved what most of us aspire to through our lives before we eventually wind down away from our careers. His academic success was eventually followed by mastery in an area of computer programming which eventually allowed him to set up a company to exploit his experience and knowledge. His dedication to ensuring success was all consuming and he took great personal pride in the quality of his work, doing the very best for all of those with whom he worked. He immersed himself in solving complicated problems and was an expert in coding. I recently heard it said that his very efficient coding was virtually impossible to understand, and intentionally so.

The other success he achieved in his private life. He was fortunate enough to have formed a wonderful bond with his partner Niki which seemed to grow ever stronger with time in spite of work taking Neil away from Jersey for long periods sometimes. Their relationship was a source of great strength for her and Neil reciprocated that love to Niki and to her daughters Dan and Freddie. They were beautiful as a couple and their relationship was set to grow on the solid foundations of mutual respect and true friendship. Neil was shaken by a terrible accident that Niki experienced about 6 years ago, but he supported her throughout that trying period as he was bound to do and we saw that his commitment to her and the children grew with time and ever more fondness.

I am privileged at having been accepted by Neil as a friend for the last 10 or 11 years. Neil became a best friend without my even noticing it, I canít even remember what possessed us to play chess; I guess Niki ejected Neil one night to get some time to herself and so that he could build up his set of friends when he moved to Jersey. After a while we were playing every Monday night in the Pembroke and I quickly learned that there was a good reason why he was so good at programming. Both of us were unrehearsed on the board, no opening gambits, always experimenting, Neil normally waiting for my initial attack to peter out before his counter attack, which would inevitably destroy my defence and render me struggling to get back into the game. Our games were protracted affairsÖ..the longest stretched over 5 hours over two weeks. Each move would be interrupted by a 15-20 minute lull of concentration in silence but in the noise of the bar. We both became established locals; occasionally another piece of the local furniture, French worker Michel, affectionately and ironically known as Popeye, would hassle Neil for Gauloises and the occasional Theakstons. I didnít encourage it, but it was part of my hidden armory of concentration destroying tactics employed to even up the odds a bit.

Previous page  Next page