Vernon F. Kimber
1921 – 2015
“V.F. (Kim) Kimber has lived in Penallt for the past three decades. Among other contributions to village life, he is notable for an impressive output of drawings and watercolours of the locality.
Many of his pieces have recently been digitised and are available for view in the Gallery section of the Penallt website. His work is also featured in two surveys of Penallt’s history published in 1989 and 2009.” [Kim’s entry in the artists’ profile section for Art in Penallt for 2011 and 2012]
Kim’s funeral took place in the Penallt Old Church on Thursday March 19th 2015, with many villagers in attendance as well as family members. The eulogy delivered by his two twin nieces, Helen Trippier and Rachel Overton, is reproduced in full below:-
“How can we begin to describe the fullness of the life and character of Kim?
Well, we all know he had enduring buoyancy and enthusiasm for his career and interests, that intellectually he was nurtured by, and excelled at Windsor Grammar School, and had leadership qualities which grew from prefect days at school, to Director General of the Export Service at the Board of Trade.
One thing for sure is that he was never known to lack confidence. Being the elder brother of Paul (our father) and Theo his sister, he was always ready to organise them, whether they liked it or not! They were brought up as members of Windsor Methodist Church, and as a child he would regularly turn around his chair at the Sunday tea table, so that standing on it, the chair became a pulpit from which he would declaim his “sermon”. Later, he did actually go on to train as a local preacher, although the war prevented him from completing his exams. Youthful “joie de vivre” could be seen in those days – he might have been walking steadfastly down a London street when suddenly his purposely loosened shoe would soar high into the air, appearing to surprise him as much as everyone else.
The war saw him entering the Air Force maintenance ground crew, where he soon learnt to service Spitfires and up-grade many other planes. Maybe it was here that he fully developed his attention to detail, for a pilot came to him one day asking him to join him in the cockpit for a short flight. Kim soon discovered that the altimeter was indicating that they were flying below ground, due to him having installed the instrument incorrectly – a lesson he never forgot!
As for many people at that time, postings during the war opened his eyes to people from other backgrounds, shown most clearly when he was stationed in barracks with a group of men who seemed unintelligible. Assuming them to be foreign, he gave up trying to communicate until one came to him after a couple of days, and speaking very slowly asked him why he wouldn’t talk to them. He explained he could not understand anything they were saying, only to discover they were from Newcastle!
At the end of the war in Europe he was transferred to the Fleet Air Arm, intending to go to the Far East, but when the war ended with Japan, he went instead via Londonderry to Scotland, where he enjoyed birdwatching, hillwalking and organising education classes for some of the other men.
And so it was he re-entered the Board Of Trade in London, selling off surplus war materials, including scrap metal from the fuel pipe, which ran under the Channel for D Day. Here he met his beloved Elsie, who devoted her life to supporting and sometimes guiding him as he climbed his career ladder, and to whom he was married with great happiness until her death 11 years ago. We both remember as teenagers, sitting in the back of his car on a journey in Scotland – suddenly he shouted at a driver who had made an error, and Elsie sitting next to him sweetly replied “Oh Kim, he probably has toothache.”
Kim followed his father’s maxim of always accepting the offer of training courses and saying yes to every opportunity. He moved from London to Birmingham and from there to Montreal, Canada, where he was a British Trade Commissioner, preparing and running the British Trade Stand at “Expo 67” the World Trade Exhibition. There both Kim and Elsie enjoyed and excelled in hosting the business community, helped by his wit and erudition. We all know he was never short of something to say!
In 1970, he became, according to the Scottish newspapers, “Scotland’s Mr Export”, in other words, the Export Director for Scotland, living in Langbank on the Clyde estuary, and becoming lifelong friends with the 2 little boys next door (who we believe are here today).
Finally, his career took him back to London where he worked closely with the then Minister for Trade and travelled widely in Europe and further afield. Holidays were also taken in the sunny places Elsie and he loved so much, such as Spain and Italy, where once an early morning gust of wind took his newly acquired straw hat and dumped it in the bay, only for it to be rescued by vying young waiters in rowing boats, racing for the opportunity of a tip. The dripping hat was subsequently donned and worn back to the hotel where Elsie was very surprised to see a rather wet Kim returning to their room.
Once retired, he started a new and long life here in Penallt, making many valued and lasting friendships. He was now free to indulge in his passions for water colour painting, singing (he sang tenor with the Narth Singers until he was 90) and local history (from which emerged the two Penallt books which some of you here today helped produce) He was also fascinated by historic church architecture and relished joining in so many different aspects of village life.
Kim will be missed. When our father died unexpectedly when we were 22, he helped and supported our family as we came to terms with our loss, and has always been available with sound advice, both for us and our children. His friendship and story telling, his humming of Music Hall songs or hymns, his urging of himself in later years to keep going, his undying interest in political wrangling and his loud joining in with the discussions on Question Time will be missed. And then there is his love of rugby, especially of course Welsh, and English rugby!
So, we remember and celebrate the life of Kim, who loved his family, his very dear friends and this beautiful Old Church of Penallt. Thank you.”
And the Reverend Sandra Howells complemented this with more on Kim’s Penallt years:
Of course we know just how much Kim, loved this church and the history surrounding it. At every significant time in its recent history, it would be Kim who designed a new roof boss to mark the occasion, and only recently he was updating the booklet telling the history of the church.
We know that Kim was not just interested in history but played a very active part in the present life of the church and the community as well. He painted this church in every season, capturing on his canvas what so many people feel when they come here. If you go to the hall for refreshments you will see a vast collection of his paintings of Old Church that people have won in the fete raffle though the years. He loved singing – I have sometimes heard him singing to himself during my sermon!! – and was part of the church singing group when it existed, before joining The Narth Singers.
He hosted the Penallt bible study group in recent years. Kim’s insight, advice and experience was invaluable to us and we should be forever grateful for his contribution to the life of the church through the many years he served on the Parochial Church Council.
Indeed I personally owe Kim and his late wife Elsie a great debt of gratitude. When I arrived here 15 years ago, it was to Kim and Elsie that I would go to find out who was who and what was and to seek counsel and advice. Kim was ever ready with wise council, softened by Elsie’s grace and gentleness. Indeed I had to smile to myself at the words of the psalm in the service sheet, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?” For I have often lifted mine eyes to the hills to look for help from the Lord, and it often came through the wisdom, the experience, knowledge, and the common sense that Kim would speak at the end of many a discussion and debate. The words of the psalm move on to speak of the Lord being our keeper , protecting us from all that might harm us, and as we read it together now, our prayer is that Kim is indeed safely in the loving arms of the Lord who was so much part of his life here on earth.