Eulogy for Joseph Stephen Lloyd Dockar-Drysdale


An abiding memory of mine of the Cotswold Community was the arrival of the Dockar-Drysdales, two or three days a week, when Pip worked as a consultant. This was over a period spanning from the late 1960s until the late 1980s. Pip’s husband “Dockar” would drive her over and collect her, initially from their home in Clanfield and then Whelford. Their cars were far from being “top of the range”, seen simply as a means of getting form A to B. Dockar could come across as a rather gruff, formidable character and woe betide our admin staff if they were not on the ball paying Pip’s invoice.I had the pleasure on several occasions of having supper with them and can vouch for his culinary skills and good company.

I’m in no doubt that Dockar provided the infrastructure which enabled Pip to do her work. The following piece is the eulogy delivered at his funeral in 1996.

John Whitwell

Joseph Stephen Lloyd Dockar Drysdale

Joseph Stephen Lloyd Dockar Drysdale was born on 2 November 1911. Known as “Steve” to his brothers and sisters, “Dockar” to his wife Pip, “MR D” to children at the “Bush” and “Pa” to his children and grandchildren, he grew up as one of six children at the family home, Wick Hall, in Radley. His younger brother David we are delighted to have with us here today.

He was educated at Cothill School and Radley College, and later whilst working for Jackson Stopps and Staff he met his future wife “Pip” Gordon, whose home was in Dublin. They were married in April 1936, and this April we all enjoyed a splendid Diamond Wedding celebration. They settled at Home Farm in Radley, where he farmed himself and assisted his father with the agricultural aspects of the family estate.

Towards the end of the war he joined the Army, and served with the RASC as a Captain in Egypt, Palestine and Cyprus, and this was the only period that he and Pip were separated throughout their long married life together.

During this period Pip started The Mulberry Bush School, and in the late 40’s they moved to Standlake, near Witney and became joint heads of what developed into a very special school indeed, devoted to the care and treatment of maladjusted and emotionally deprived children, which still thrives today as an Internationally respected institution. He and Pip devoted their lives to this work, with “Mr D” as he was known to all the “Bush Kids” combining the day to day practical running of the school with providing the “Fathering” experience which so many of them had missed out on.

He set their boundaries for them, provided the discipline and guidance and, in spite of a fearsome roar which commanded instant attention, he also showed great tenderness when coping with the never ending stream of cuts, bruises and childhood illnesses form some 40 children … looking back we seemed, in the early 50’s to be constantly painted in either bright orange from something called Acriflavin or equally bright purple from Gentian Violet … what they were I never did discover but we all survived splendidly!

Among his many interests he had a great love for fine antique furniture and glass, was a keen and accomplished gardener and a draughtsman of a high standard, with a beautiful copperplate handwriting that I always marvelled at.

He was also a quite superb cook, who delighted in producing wonderful feasts for the family at Christmas and on other special occasions, taking great pride in selecting the best cuts of meat he could find and cooking them to perfection. Whilst he changed direction completely when he left farming to dedicate his life to supporting the Mulberry Bush and Pip’s work, he always remained very much a country man, and particularly loved the Cotswolds, where they have lived for many years since their retirement from the Bush; first in Clanfield, then Maisey Hampton and then Whelford, just up the road from here.

Since February he and Pip have been living at the Hyperion retirement home here in Fairford, and we are all immensely grateful to Andy and all his staff there for making them both so welcome and providing such wonderful care and understanding.

Although retired from the Bush Ma carried on with her work, both at home and with the Cotswold Community at Ashton Keynes, and Pa continued to help and support her until at 80+ they decided they really should finally retire!

His was an extraordinary and varied life, in which he achieved much, but of course to his family he was first and foremost a devoted husband to Ma and a most loving father to Sally, William, Caroline and myself.

He will surely rest most peacefully in this beautiful Churchyard in his beloved Cotswold.