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Over 800 attend Vin's funeral as his children share eulogy for those who were not there

Vin's funeral was held on Friday 16th June with over 800 mourners packed into St Mary's Cathedral, Middlesbrough, to celebrate his life and legacy with what was a wonderful and uplifting service that lasted for two hours. An emotional Eulogy was delivered by Vin's four children, Emma, Tim, Katie and Louis and they would like to share it with those who could not be there on Friday. 


Eulogy for Dad: 20.11.47 to 6.6.17

Ower Dad, was born with little warning, in a bucket. My Grandad Alf ran over to my Nana Tess, patted her on the shoulder and said, lovingly, "you’re alright pet", then immediately ran out of the house. Apparently she laughed. That was Dad’s introduction to the world, his first experience, and he absorbed it… love and laughter.

He grew into a boy, alongside his brother Michael, and his two sisters, Mary and Ellen, in a house filled with childish noise, humorous tales from his Dad, and traditional Irish songs constantly being hummed or sung by his Mam. Family celebrations saw those traditions delivered by a clan of entertainers.

Dad took it all in. Always curious, always eager to learn. He never stopped. As a child, his thoughtfulness and intelligence had relief in mischievous pranks. He would stick his head round the kitchen door, suddenly shouting "catch", throwing an egg, and running away, or balancing bowls of water on top of the door, having identified his sibling victim. Dad’s most enduring prank was making his brother Mike wait outside the toilet door, slowly pouring bottles of water into it the loo until he cracked up laughing.

Dad made lifelong friends at St. Peter's in South Bank, some of who are here today, and some who’ll be glad they're not, because their wait to see him is over. He loved the company he kept, as much as his solitude. He found that isolated freedom in the Eston Hills, spending days growing his love and appreciation of nature and the Teesside countryside, a feeling he later captured in his greenhouse, sharing it with his favourite tomato plants.

He had by this time already discovered music and a discarded guitar in his brother’s wardrobe. In that he found a talent that affected all of our lives, nurtured through playing and singing the songs his mother sang, the songs of his Irish and English heritage.

He studied the roots of folk songs he heard at local clubs, which continued when he eventually followed his school friends to ICI Wilton. Dad found the best of everything, and enjoyed his time as an apprentice turner. He always felt he was one of the men of the industry that defines Teesside.

He immersed himself in the local music scene, harking at his true calling like the birds he'd spent so much time admiring.  He regularly played at The Rifle Folk Club using the funds he earned to travel, watching other musicians, visiting people and places, particularly Ireland in search of his roots.

Then, in 1968, he, and a group of close friends (Speedy John Bryden, Kevin McClean, Alan Brewer, Joe Jones and Pete Betts), left their jobs to busk along the Mediterranean coast in a VW Caravette Dad called, Sybil Klondike. That was life changing for most of them, no more so than for Dad. In Spain and Gibraltar, with his friends, he developed a belief in his ability as a musician and songwriter, and came back to England with the conviction that he would become a professional folk singer. From that point, his guitar and penny whistle never left his side, his whistle never will.

For 48 more years he travelled and sang professionally, playing sell out shows to thousands of people from Canada to Australia, Holland to Hong Kong, and crafted 16 albums along the way. He won the first BBC Folk Award for Best Live Act, received an honorary Masters degree from our very own Teesside University, and perhaps most significantly to him, a papal blessing, bestowed upon him by Pope Francis for his services to the charity, Life.

A lot has been written about Dad’s career and achievements, and more will be said. It seemed an impossible task to summarise in these words today, so we haven't really. We would say though, the ambition in Dad’s life wasn't the pursuit of fame or glory, but to communicate and have a relationship with as many people as possible, with a sincere purpose. Vin Garbutt was also a husband, Dad and Grandad. As kids he'd tell us stories of Murgatroid Mouse and take us on magical treasure hunts around his beloved Hummersea. Reading from an invisible book, he would take us up to the magic canyon to find the golden fern, where he'd have secretly planted "treasure". And his grandchildren loved him for the fun he brought to them, giving a personal song to each.

A few people this week have mentioned how he was a like a father figure to them, and some might find that an odd thing to say to his children, but I think he genuinely loved every person he met, and he made people feel that.

He'd watch the news every day and would grieve and worry for every victim, every tragedy, no matter where in the world it was happening. He felt duty bound to be informed and not to turn a blind eye to the plight of anyone. Even though he couldn't practically help he prayed for every one of them, and tried to throw light on them.

Dad was a student of life, who shared his learning and his laughter. With that in mind, we thought in important to share with you a few of his lessons, comments and one-liners:

Being silly isn't stupid. To bare intelligence isn't sombre, but it can be. Think, be philosophical, question yourself. Love can be said in a word, but there should be no doubt of it in your actions. The best relief, is an organic wee in the garden. Don't judge a book by its cover. There are two ends to every stick. Words are important, don't waste or fail to use them Perspectives are always relevant. Two wrongs don't make a right. Fashion does not dictate. Believe in god, have faith. Life should be verdant and green. Everyone’s called Colin. Don't believe what you read or hear, nor assume it's not true. Life has the right to exist. The 10 commandments are relevant, irrespective of belief. Marriage supports a family. Love, share and practice folk music. Death is as much a part of life as living. Believe the bypass syndrome. There is power in prayer. The capital of Bolivia is La Paz (it’s actually Sucre) Comedy and tragedy live side by side. A person will never feel older than 28. You can never have enough torches, pen knives, glasses or daft caps. Avoid the hungry gap. It couldn’t be done, but he did it. The punch line lives in those people not yet laughing. Re-use, recycle; he'd have had a 2nd hand coffin! Laugh your cap off. Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves. Money isn’t everything There are more things twixed heaven and earth. Don't talk too proud, nor talk too wise. Honesty is the best policy. Beware the fear of imperfection. Think of others before yourself. The creation and expansion of need is the antithesis of wisdom. An axolotl is a Central American amphibious salamander.

And finally… Time and tide wait for no man.

Nobody is perfect, and Dad proves that you don’t have to be. We're not sure that he approved of pride, but with Dad, having said our piece, it's overwhelming and undeniable and justifiable.

We could never do justice to Dad’s life, and it's a formidable task to live up to him, he's a big act to follow. But we have tried to leave just a taste of the beauty of his existence. Dad was loaned to us filled with love, compassion and passion, and now he’s been called back home.


Our amazing Mam… she truly is the love of Dad’s life. A true companion. Dad was an artist, a free spirit, but she was his rock, the foundation that allowed him to follow, and even occasionally live his dreams. You are forever the most important person in his life. Like he said, “Pooge, you're the bee’s knees”. A love like that, for a lifetime and longer, it knows no bounds.

Our final words are these from our wonderful Mam:

I would say to him, “How come you never have a down day? When you don’t feel like giving that smile to the man on the street, when you don’t feel like chatting”. He would say, “I never feel like that. All I want to do in life is make the world a better place, just a smile is all it takes”. He would say to me every single day, “Have I told you that I love you today?” And without fail the answer would be yes. He was trying to give that message of love to all of you through his music and laughter. Did Vin make the world a better place? I think we all know the answer to that. Now it is our responsibility to carry that love away with us and hand it on.

Thank you for making the world a better place Dad. 

All the very best

God Bless. 

We love you.


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