Eric Rowland Mountford: 1932-2021
Former chairman of Tools With a Mission, long-time employee of Startrite Machine Tool company, and church treasurer
Most of Eric's early years were spent in Hodge Hill, Birmingham. His parents' amazing achievements through years of adversity bred in their three sons Eric, Tony and Frank, the principles of honesty, hard work and a love of adventure.
Eric was seven years old when war broke out in 1939. He talked about going to the brass foundry with his dad and watching the crucible of molten brass being poured into the moulds. In a freezing winter he built an igloo carving out of the blocks of snow. He played with Meccano and rigged up a telephone system to communicate with the boy next door. He went trekking with the Scouts and camped in the woods, and he attended Hodge Hill Gospel Church, one of the places in the area where Fred King and his sons carried out evangelistic ministry. Eric played chess with them, was given charge of the loudspeaker system and received a training in the Scriptures which gave his life foundation and purpose.
When he was 18, he met Valerie Driskell at a young people's weekend house party. They both felt a sense of destiny, although his call up papers came through that weekend, and during the next year or two, their times together were occasional and brief. He took part in a five-month training programme in Alberta to learn to fly but was then transferred to the RAF regiment as an instructor.
When he was demobbed both families moved south. He worked and studied in Gillingham in the drawing office of the Startrite Machine Tool company, bought a motorbike and spent every other weekend at his girlfriend's home in Southfields, Wandsworth. They married there in 1956 and almost immediately he was sent to Lichfield where he acted as Midlands sales representative for the firm. They were there for seven years.
He was called back to work in the office and another move to Erith for three years. This was followed by 10 years bringing up John, Philip and Christine in a country village in Kent. Then were were four years in Leicester before he was called back and went on to become company director of Startrite and steer it through a takeover. When he retired he was commended as a good steward. He was proud of that.
Family life was interrupted but stable. The church was always a caring family. The beloved caravan took them to Broadstairs, to weekends with the Baptist Caravan Fellowship, and on family holidays. They went sailing with family friends.
In 1979 Oprington and Crofton became home for 40 years, and a centre of activity for the whole family. Eric became church treasurer at Crofton Baptist Church and computerised the system. He oversaw maintenance at Cedarmore Housing Association until he could no longer climb about, and he was appointed chairman of Tools With a Mission when it became a charity.
In his later years when his fingers lost their dexterity and he could no longer do the precision woodwork he so enjoyed, he still delighted in producing wonderful paper airplanes to delight the great grandchildren.
He is deeply mourned by the extended family here and overseas.