RETIRED property developer and farmer Alan Girling has died aged 80 after a long illness.
He was born on the Isle of Wight in March 1939 to Victor and Olive who lived in Newport. His father had served in the newly-formed RAF during the 1920s and 30s and at the outbreak of war was mainly involved in training of navigators for bomber crews.
Alan was educated on the island until the age of 11 but was sent away to Churcher’s College Petersfield when his mother became terminally ill.
He met Sheila in 1957 and married in 1961 after which they moved to the mainland and started a family.
For a time he ran the newsagents and post office in Lyndhurst before entering the property field.
They lived in a flat above the New Forest Estate offices in Brockenhurst where he started working for Captain Cecil Sutton as a land agent for Sutton’s estate agents – a firm which he would later take over and expand during the 1980s into a chain of residential and commercial branches across the New Forest and Southampton.
As a young man with a family he studied in the evenings to gain his Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyor qualifications which was typical of a man who worked hard all his life to provide and give opportunity to his family, and, as it proved, too hard.
In the late 1970s a serious illness exacerbated by overwork led to him nearly losing his life due to perforated ulcers with blood poisoning as a consequence. A six-month recovery in the St John Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford returned him back to home but with no loss of enthusiasm for hard work.
From ‘tobacco baron’ at school (something which got him suspended), selling flowers on Newport market to conceiving and redeveloping the Town Quay in Southampton and Bargate shopping centre he was an entrepreneur through and through.
He was also responsible for the planning and development of the former Wellworthy site to construct a Safeway supermarket (now Waitrose store) in Lymington
He was immensely proud of involvement in the planning and development of housing in Brockenhurst and surrounding villages despite opposition – sometimes from those who had bought their new homes and did not want to see any more built.
He was less successful though with his proposals to bring jousting events to Brockenhurst.
His family said: “He was sometimes controversial but that went with the territory when making changes, especially within the land and property world.”
He was also director general of the Southampton chamber of commerce in the late 1980s, and a keen Round Table member for many years who organised the national conference in Bournemouth in the mid-1970s.
His ancestors were either in the military or farming. It was his love of the latter which led him to purchase Slade Farm in Pilley in 1975 and there he made a home there for his family.
He loved walking the fields with his dogs every day rain or shine, but his greatest enjoyment came from his cattle. He started with Herefords and moved on to Charolaise from where he gained a reputation for his formidable bulls!
He was a social man who enjoyed evenings in the pub or playing bridge with his friends, sailing in the Solent and listening to jazz.
He remarried to Jackie Grady in 1993 after he and Sheila divorced. Sheila live now lives in South Africa and Norley Wood when in the UK.
His family said: “He was a man not known for open displays of emotion but nevertheless cared and loved deeply. A man who gave wise council to many and never betrayed a confidence.
“He enjoyed most sport, and although his club rugby days on the Isle of Wight were long behind him he was a keen England rugby and cricket supporter.
“Even in his last days watching England win the world cup on TV brought pleasure to a man who dealt with his pain and illness with fortitude, never complaining but always interested in others not himself.
“That for his children was the mark of a man who was an incredible father. A father who supported, advised and loved but who made you stand on your own two feet.
“We soon learnt don’t expect a hug or a shoulder to cry on, rather, sound advice and a firm handshake was the order of the day. His was a life well-lived, loved and remembered by those he leaves behind.”
He is survived by Jackie, his sister Rosemary, sons Paul and John, daughter Jane, and grandchildren Joshua and Olivia.
A private family cremation was followed by a service of thanksgiving at St John the Baptist church Boldre. Donations in his memory can be made to Oakhaven hospice or Diabetes UK through Maria Jones Funeral directors, Brockenhurst.