What a wonderful, wonderful, happy day.
Mary and I would like to welcome you all and thank you very much for joining us in the celebration of Ann and Andrew’s wedding.
I know that some of you have travelled considerable distances to be here today and we really appreciate it.
Its great that Ann and Andrew’s friends, from all aspects of their lives, are meeting, some for the first time, and no doubt they will be comparing notes and sharing experiences.
It was Ann’s school friends, Claire and Lizzie, who read this afternoon, another school friend, Sarah, who sang so beautifully.
And just to show how versatile these Willy Perks girls are, it was Debbie who made the wedding cake.
It is a special privilege to welcome Andrew’s mum Eileen and Andrew’s family also Susan Wood who’s daughter Jenny was Ann’s close friend at Cambridge.
As I said before, what a wonderful day.
Mind you, it didn’t start too well. This morning there were some tantrums and a few tears.... but that’s enough about me!
I’m sure that I am no different from any other father when it comes to his daughter.
It doesn’t matter how competent she is, you always think she needs protecting.
When we brought her home from the maternity hospital I remember giving the taxi driver strict instructions about his driving.
I can also remember his reply. Which went something like
" You’re not going to believe this son, but I’ve actually driven babies before"
I’m sure I must have embarrassed her on many occasions and for this I am sorry.
However, as father of the bride, I can now tell the world, officially, how proud I am of her and tell you about some of her achievements and also a little of her darker side.
So what of my daughter.
This is the girl who learned to tell the time at a very young age and would wake us up us up at six in the morning to show off her newly acquired skill.
I’m pleased to say that getting up early was something she soon grew out of and has never been troubled by since!
When she was five she used to read me the football reports at breakfast, which I loved.
She is a perfectionist.
At school she would only write on one type of paper, a mistake would see the offending sheet thrown in the waste paper basket.
We managed to solve this problem by buying masses of paper from her school and swapping with paper from John’s school.
I can’t remember how much paper was involved but I think she’s now down to about 5 years supply!
This is the girl who passed; I think 12 O levels and was disappointed because only 11 were at grade A, the other being a B.
I wont bore you by quoting her A and S level results or how she got on at Medical School.
After A levels she worked for a year as an auxiliary nurse on the psychiatric /geriatric ward of our local hospital, doing all the menial tasks.
When we picked her up each evening we were the only family who drove in the depths of winter with all the car windows open.
In our house taking an early bath took on a whole new meaning.
Some of her other skills include being a barmaid, exhaust fitter, waitress, car cleaner and supermarket shelf filler. Not forgetting 6 years as an engineer at EEV.
She is totally loyal to everyone and is fiercely proud of her brothers.
She has an extreme sense of fairness, which can be exasperating at times. She once did a charity cycle ride, on her own, in the winter, from Oxford to Staines.
She arrived home like a drowned rat, checked the distance on the map which seemed about 95 miles, as she had taken sponsors money for 100 miles she went straight back out and did another 10 miles just to be on the safe side.
Nothing ever daunts her. When she worked in a Zambian hospital I remember her travelling instructions.
A monk would collect her from Lusaka airport and she was to stay overnight at the local monastery.
She was not to talk to anyone because of the dangers.
They would put her on a bus the next morning and she was told to get off at the Katete Stores crossroads, which was some hour’s ride away.
She then had to try and hitch a lift to the hospital. Mary didn’t sleep for a week but Ann couldn’t see a problem.
Typical Ann, while at the hospital she was invited to have a meal with a local family. The main man said he would pick her up and duly arrived on his bicycle and perched her on the carrier. I’m sure she never batted an eyelid.
She is also terribly kind.
This is the girl who finds time to visit elderly, lonely, ex patients to share a fish and chip supper.
Who goes to extreme lengths to buy presents that match the recipient?
Well perhaps not always, she once bought me a Bruce Sprinsteen Album, of whom I’d never heard. It turned out well in the end though, because she volunteered to look after it for me.
She must spend, hours working out how to get 6 ounces of jellybeans into your birthday card envelope.
Because she’s like she is everybody warms to her. How else would two patrol policemen change her tyre on the motorway and then suspend their duties to share her cup cakes, Or the owners of a world famous hotel by Victoria Falls, allow her to pitch her tent on their prize lawn.
She can also drive you up the wall.
Especially when you are waiting to serve Christmas dinner and she phones from Billericay to say she forgot to post her Christmas cards and is delivering them by hand.
Or after her Cambridge interview she tells you that when asked if she had any questions replied, "Can I bring my rabbit".
Or, when she was younger and the whole family would be in the car waiting to go on a trip only to find out that she’d gone back indoor’s to wash her hair.
All is forgiven though when I remember seeing her, when she was about 12, walking along Staines railway platform with a headband of daisies, the other passengers pointing and smiling. She seemed to cheer up the whole station.
So that’s a snapshot of her and some of her achievements.
Shall I tell you her biggest achievement?
This girl of mine has turned into a magic lovely woman.
So who deserves to marry such a goddess? Well someone who is more than just a cut above the rest.
So step forward Andrew.
When Ann first told us about him I naturally asked, as dads do, what he did for a living.
She said he was an engineer who worked on satellites. Good I thought - perhaps we might get Sky sport on the cheap.
Then she told us what a great cyclist he was, what a great footballer he was, that he was a junior tennis champion of yesteryear, a great all round guy and good egg to boot.
He seems to me to be very organised and punctual which bears out the saying that opposites attract.
I’m just a bit concerned that he may be being slipping in the punctuality department because on their recent holiday to America they did managed to miss their flight!
We have now known him a couple of years and except for getting our satellites mixed up; find that everything she said of him was true.
We welcome him into our family with open arms.
I have a wonderful daughter, two smashing daughters in law, two sons who fill me with the utmost pride, three beautiful grand daughters who performed their bridesmaid duties to perfection, a top gun wrestling mate of a grandson who suddenly looks so grown-up in his pageboy suit and now a ace son in law.
As the saying goes,
My cup runeth over.
Before I propose the toast to the happy couple I would like to pay a special tribute to the person who has made all this possible and who has made the greatest contribution to our collective well being.
That is of course my Mary.
Would you now join me in toasting the bride and groom?
God bless and keep them in what I know will be a blissfully happy marriage.
ANN and ANDREW