How my dad the 'joker in the pack' saved my life when the chips were down / Sue Plunkett

I am among the many people who can't send a Father's Day card this Sunday, but I will definitely be thinking about my dad who died in 1999.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 3:45 pm
Sue Plunkett with her dad Sam who she credits for saving her life when she was only 11
Sue Plunkett with her dad Sam who she credits for saving her life when she was only 11

One of the earliest memories I have of my dad Sam is going swimming on a Saturday morning with him at the local pool when I was about five.

He was quite noticeable as he had a large birthmark on his chest, which kids used to point at. He would tell them he got the 'injury' from wrestling a bear in Africa ! I believed him for so many years and so did the kids who had stared.

For that was one of my dad's gifts...being a great story teller. Every night when I was a child he would tell me a bedtime story and it would include all of my friends in some great adventure. He used to make it up as he went along and I loved every minute.

He also used to tell me that the bear on display in Towneley Hall was captured by a hunter in the woods behind the hall!

I was a real tomboy as a kid and me and my dad went on some great outdoor adventures. We lived within walking distance of gorgeous countryside and open spaces, including Towneley Hall, so we were off at every opportunity.

More often than not, half of the children from the neighbourhood would trail behind us as we ventured down to what used to known as the ' teddy pond' around the Hillcrest area of Cliviger. All you needed was a carrier bag to sit on and slide down the muddy bank into the pond! What great fun that was, always with my dad at the helm.

On one of our escapades, I can't remember exactly where it was, but we had to cross a river that was slightly orange in colour. My dad gave me a 'piggyback' across a pipe but my best friend Tony, who lived a few doors down from us, chose the water route. We could hear his mum shouting at him from our house when we eventually landed home and every stitch of his clothing was rust coloured!

A talented cricketer and footballer as a lad my dad seemed to have boundless energy. And he wasn't a young dad either as he was almost 40 when I was born.

He always had a twinkle in his eye and the 'gift of the gab' which made him the perfect salesman. He worked for British Gas selling cookers and gas fires door to door and he was consistently top salesman in his team but it was not something he boasted about, ever.

A perfectionist when it came to any projects my dad could turn his hand to anything, from plastering and decorating to fixing his car. He also didn't mind doing the housework, cooking and cleaning was second nature to him and he never saw it as 'woman's work.'

But he was by no means perfect and he could be short tempered and impatient.

He would tease and joke with everyone in a good natured way and was my mum's right hand man as she was the decision maker in our home. If I wanted to do anything he would always say "you will have to ask your mum."

But when it came down to it my dad, for all his joking around, was the one who saved my life when I was in hospital.

Admitted with peritonitis at the age of 11 I spent three weeks in hospital where it was touch and go. One Sunday afternoon the consultant decided to take me off the drip and medication to see how I went on as he thought I was getting better.

But my dad saw otherwise and could see my condition was deteriorating. My mum at the time was an emotional wreck so my dad swung into action and took it upon himself to ring the consultant at his home and plead with him to go to the hospital immediately. You might ask how he got his number but back in the 70s virtually everyone was listed in the phone book.

The consultant tried to reassure my dad that I would be fine and he would be going to see me on the following day but my dad persisted and said that would be too late.

He persuaded him and when the consultant arrived at the hospital he had to agree my condition had worsened so he ordered new medication and another drip and from there I slowly started to pull round.

My parents only told me this story a couple of years later. It still makes me emotional to think that my lovely, funny dad who was always the joker in the pack, was the one there when it really mattered.