Friends and Relations
Picture of Frederick Needler.

Frederick George Needler

A Eulogy

I would like to thank you all for coming today. If Dad were here now he would be surprised and delighted at the turn out!

Frederick George Needler was born on 19th October 1933, in Hull, and was the third child of George and Hilda Needler. He was to be the only boy in the family having the dubious honor of having 2 sisters, Joyce and Joan, being 11 and 9 years older than him.

George Needler worked with his father in the family business. There were 3 businesses with the family name of Needler in the Hull area at the time, Needlers the coopers (our family), Needlers the builders and Of course Needlers the confectioners.

With the advent of the second world war the two girls entered the Wrens and Fred continued with School. Just after the war and with the cooper business struggling George decided it would help his father if he left the company and moved to Birmingham to become a manager in one of the local companies supporting the booming motor car industry. Hilda and the three children followed a few months later, finally settling in Hill Top road, Northfield.

Fred was interested in all things mechanical and having gained good school results became a craft apprentice at Joseph Lucas in Great Hampton St. After finishing his apprentice ship Fred worked in the Tool Room at Great King Street.

Soon after, and on one of the old Lucas Apprentice nights out, Fred met his future wife, Joyce and in 1959 they married.

A year later, and having lived with his mother in law, (which dad stated was a rather stressful time) they bought the house in Grigg Grove. To make the family complete Fred and Joyce had two sons, Guy in 1961 and Mark in 1964.

Dads father, George, died when he was 56 years old (Mmm, thats my age!!!) – dad was in his teens and always bemoaned the fact that his father never saw him progress and be successful in his life. Dad, however, was a success is many ways.

He worked hard to ensure that mom never went to work and so he learnt how to build and repair his sailing dinghies. I can remember him getting up early before work to put a coat of varnish on the deck of a boat and working on the boats in the garage after work for an hour or so. How many men these days would take on two jobs to ensure their wife did not need to work so that she could concentrate on bringing up the children? As a result Dad subsequently became a very well respected registered boat builder repairer with the RYA.

Dad became very interested in sailing those boats that he made and as a result we spent many weekends at the Lenchford Sailing club on the river severn both watching dad and mom sail in the weekly races, and later, racing ourselves. Dad got better and we saw him win many cups, medals and plaques with mom as his crew. Times change though and dads sailing club moved to Ombersly and later merged with Bartley Green Sailing Club. Guy subsequently turned to golf and then martial arts and cycling whilst Mark continued with the sailing becoming a yacht master and sailing ocean going yachts.

Dad however loved his sailing and made every effort to go to “The Club” right up to the point, and beyond, where he couldn’t physically sail. He became a landmark member of Bartley Sailing Club and together with mom was awarded Life Member Status.

Let’s return for a moment to Dads days in Joseph Lucas. Fred, being a very capable individual, gradually rose through the ranks to overall Toolroom superintendent of the whole Lucas group, and during this journey he became the youngest person ever to become a foreman, achieving this in the Battery factory at Foremans Road Acocks Green. During his normal week he could be seen travelling from his base at the Central Toolroom at Great King Street, to Marshal Lake Rd, Cannock, Burnley and Shaftmoor Lane. Dad was offered a number of expat roles in Lucas India and Lucas Malaysia, had he taken these life would have been a little different I feel!

Dad was extremely keen to ensure that Mark and I were well educated in the mechanical arts and both Mark, Dad and I spent many years rebuilding old or crash damaged cars to both make some money and teach us to be mechanically independent of him. To assist in this plan dad helped both mark and I build extensions, garages and porches to our houses, again to help save money, educate us in another mechanical or craft based discipline and give him time to do his own work. I am not entirely sure that this plan worked !!!

When Dad left Lucas he set up his own business, he always wanted to be self-employed, repairing more boats and making wood based components for Sunrise Medical, specifically for manual and electric wheel chairs. It was very successful and allowed Mark to be employed in the business for a few years.

Holidays with Mom and dad were plentiful and during our early and teenage years we spent 2 or three times a year at Morfa Bychan caravan site near Aberystwyth – Wales. We used to go out fishing for Mackerel and Pollock in our small boat powered by a 40 Plus Seagull outboard engine. We also made Lobster pots to catch Lobsters and Crabs – which at times the local fishermen would life to steal our catch, much to dads annoyance. As you know dad liked to sail and a number of times we took his GP14 to Morfa Bychan and to Newquay in Cornwall to sail with the local clubs. One year the wind was up and dad decided to go out on his own to “attack the waves”. His sailing prowess was so good that he not only launched the GP14 on his own, but he sailed around for an hour and returned on his own as well. However, the weather had detreated during his venture and this upset both mom and the local caravan site owner who gave dad a serious reprimanding later that day. The beach was stoney and it was very difficult to find the clear channel and beach the boat so again dads sailing prowess was justified. As it happened he never did this again, he was banned from sailing from the caravan site and every time the wind was up the caravan site owner would put out the red flag!!
They were wonderful years that, unfortunately Mark and I grew out of as we approached our mid-teens; we decided to go further afield to Europe.

When Mom died in 2010 his zest for life was dented and he struggled with life on his own and although he kept himself busy he missed mom terribly. Later in 2010 he was confirmed as having a variant of Parkinsons disease and although, as a result, his health went gradually downhill he always stayed resolute and NEVER complained, his carers referred to his as an example of an excellent patient.

With the serious side over I wanted to share with you a little example of the somewhat cheeky side of dad. If you told him it could not be done – he would go out and do it.

These are just a very few things that remind me of dad. There are of course many more but I would need to write a book. Suffice to say Fred was a first class father, husband, friend, provider, worker, colleague, coach and mentor, and as two of my oldest friends stated:-

Fred was an Ace Bloke, A Legend


He seemed to me to be the ideal man as he was both a strong and determined sort of fellow but also had a gentle caring nature

We could not have wanted for more. – I cannot thank you enough dad for the start in life you gave us.

Guy Needler
15th December 2017


Added by: Guy Needler on 11th January 2018.





Bill Dowell writes [17th April 2019]:

I knew Fred from our days at Lenchford Sailing Club in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He built his own GP14 and other dinghies and his standard of workmanship and finish was always outstanding. He built a new boat for him and Joyce to sail every couple of years or so and I remember they had amusing names like "Another One"..

I learnt a lot from Fred; especially his techniques on how to apply paint and varnish which I follow to this day.
He was a proper time-served craftsman with multiple skills ... [read more from Bill Dowell]



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