Bernard Roughan 1919-2003
Bernard Roughan was born on the
11th of March 1919 in the Pontypridd area of Wales. He was one of nine
children born to Martin Roughan and Christina Maher, who had emigrated to Wales
from Ireland at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Bernard was their
seventh child and had a twin sister called Patricia. At the age of three, he
followed his older siblings to school in the Rhondda Valley and was allowed to
stay. His father placed great emphasis on education, and was probably delighted
to see his youngest son so eager to learn!
Bernard left school at fourteen and became a tailor’s assistant. He joined the army at the outbreak of World War Two and amongst other places, served in Italy. He had a hard war, like so many others, and carried a few scars into his post-war civilian life. His father Martin died in 1948 which precipitated his mother’s move to London where her married daughters Eileen and May were already living. Bernard continued to live at 22, Parkhurst Road with his mother and sister Pat until his marriage in 1952.
I recall him telling me about following both Arsenal and Tottenham despite their intense rivalry. One week, Highbury, the next week White Hart Lane. I took the Higbury route, and my sister Sharon has taught at Tottenham College for decades. Bernard went into Psychiatric Nursing and worked at the Friern Hospital in New Southgate. I recall watching him play cricket there in the early 50s. His sister May was a deputy matron there, and lived inside the grounds at East Lodge with her husband Reg, who was farm bailiff.
As 1965 dawned, changes were
afoot in our family. Mum was now working at the Jane Walker Hospital in
Wissington, Suffolk and she had been offered a partnership in an Old Persons
Home, about to be opened nearby, at Rushbanks House where formerly, nurses from
the Hospital had lived. Bernard was excited about the move, and as far as I
know, entered into the project wholheartedly. One of the partners was Matron
Singleton, and the other was Frank Bates whose farm adjoined the property. What
actually happened or went wrong I have never been sure of. Whether Bernard and
Ina, after thirteen years together, had grown apart, I don’t know. Both were excited about the move.
Within weeks of the move to Rushbanks in the July, Bernard had left and returned to Colchester, very upset. Each believed the other to have had exta-matrimonal affairs. It was the most acrimonious of splits possible and they never again spoke to each other. Bernard kept in touch with his children, and access was never a problem. Nearly forty years later, and after a successful second marriage, the scars were still there. He never got over it.
1971 was a turning point in his
life. Earlier that year, Ina’s father, Franz had passed away. Bernard and Franz
had never got on, though Bernard did say to me, at the time, that he was sorry
‘the old man’ had gone ... words I was pleased to hear because both men were
important to me in my life. Bernard’s mother died on the 19th March that year,
and his sister May in the August. Bernard was now fifty-two with both parents
passed on and four siblings too.
Into his life came Laura Frederick but known as Ann. She had two daughters from a previous marriage, Liz and Louise, and was twenty years younger. This was to be a lasting relationship and marriage up to his death in 2003. Ann had several siblings, and Bernard got on well with them all and their partners. He was always at ease in company, and there was plenty of that in a close-knit family. I also got on well with Ann's sisters and daughters.
Ann’s daughters went on to have families of their own, and Bernard became a much-loved figure in all their lives. I enjoyed my visits to 132, Mill Road, and was so pleased to see his contentment. He and Ann had no children of their own, but in many ways, Ann’s children and grandchildren became his children too. My relationship with Bernard took on a new dimension, and I enjoyed his company very much.