The RNLI saves lives at sea.

Victor Stanley

Also known as: Vic or Stan.

By Vic

I was born in Bramley in Leeds but returned with my parents to Ashford when I was only a few months old. I was evacuated during the Second World War to Crowley near oxford with lots of others of all ages. I was brought back to my home while the war was still ongoing and attended the north central. I should have stayed at school until I was 14 but my mother found me a job which was more important at the age of 13 and a half. I worked for a grocers called Pearks. After negotiations with the school board negotiations officer at the school they decided to let me carry on working instead of doing my last 4 months at school. Just after 14 I realised this wasn’t for me so I moved on to a job in Bank Street. The company was Curry’s but couldn’t stand being enclosed in the shop. I then moved again still at the age of 14 working for a builder called Freddie Adams in new street which I enjoyed very much. However the wages were very low, a friend advised me to get a job at Norman’s cycle factory where I worked on the assembly line. I sooned got tired of the repetition of the work so moved on to Davis’s timber yard near the Ashford railway station. Again I moved on, now at the age of 15, to a few smaller jobs i.e forestry at Challock and Dave Spain logging. And finally I went to the tanyard in Tannery lane. Coming up for my 16th birthday I had visions of being a sailor. I went to the Burton builders in Chatham where I had to take exams for the Royal Navy. Unfortunately one of the subjects was Algebra. This let me down and I failed the exams with great disappointment. But as one door shut another opened My Father was a sergeant major in the royal artillery in WWII fortunately his commanding officer was a Major Daws who lived in a small village in Pluckly near Ashford. He was a director of the New Zealand Shipping company. My father went to see him explaining my position to him thankfully he wrote a letter that I took to Leadenhall street in London. Where they agreed to give me employment in the shipping company. But firstly I had to go to a sea training school at sharpness Gloucestershire. The Vindicatrix. What an eye opener that was! The food was dreadful and the regime was very strict and demanding. After 3 months I passed out and returned to the office in the Royal Albert dock shed 27. Where Mr. Harland interviewed me and sent me home and I was told to wait for instructions concerning my placing. After 2 weeks I received a letter and a train warrant for Glasgow. To join a ship call the Rangiatata, a merchant ship, in john browns ship yard ,clide bank where the ship was currently undergoing refit. After 3 months the ship was completed and ready for service. The rest of the crew joined and we sailed for London. I was given 3 weeks leave then rejoined the ship for my first voyage to sea. Not knowing at the time we were taking as passengers the ten pound poms, plus cargo destined for New Zealand. From here on my adventures in life began…

By Ruth

My Vic was a wonderful story teller and a mine of information with a vast knowledge on a variety of subjects, I met Vic on Coronation Day 1953 and we married 3 years later in 1956. Owing to the lengths of his trips we were actually together for 8 months, but reams of letters passed between us. The sadness of his leaving and the absolute joy of his homecomings cannot be described but any seafarer’s wife knows what I mean. He left the sea in 1959, after untold adventures, by which time Mark was 9 months old, Peter arrived in Aug 1959, Matthew Dec 1960, David Jan 1963 and Sarah Dec 1964, what a wonderful family he has left behind for me to cherish and love.
After the sea he became a painter and decorator for several years and when he changed occupations worked the markets all over Kent and Portobello road. I worked alongside him 2 or 3 days per week. In 1977 he returned to sea, he got very itchy feet again, after our two elder sons came home from voyages telling him where they had been. He travelled the world but this time I felt more involved as I would travel by coach (I do not drive) to Southampton to enable us to have a few hours together before he sailed again. After spending 8 years at sea he returned to painting and decorating and fitted in a past time of making knot boards and never really retiring.

Vic and I joined a gym which we really enjoyed and we had many many wonderful holidays, especially visiting New Zealand 7 times to stay and meet up with old ship mates.

We lived in Shadoxhurst for 20 years while the children were growing up, he was a complete family man with THE most wonderful sense of humour, I don’t think any one left our house without having a ‘belly laugh’ . He would talk very loud all the time he said it was because of noisy ships engines!!. We often missed punch lines on the tele because he just had to say something

He was never miserable throughout his illness; he would just have sad days. He lived life to the absolute limit and we as a family did not realise how much he was admired and loved by so many, saying Vic, meant –laughter-joy and Love.

I’ve loved my darling Vic forever. We’ve had a Ball.

Added by: Ruth Stanley on 19 July 2008.

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