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Serving Dorset for over 100 years

Lawrence James Laken (Laurie)


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  1. Darling Laurie was always a ray of sunshine – quirky with a wicked sense of fun.
    When I joined the Laken family at the age of 20 he warmly welcomed me and I am glad to say that we have stayed in contact over the years.
    I know how much Derek especially will miss his brother Laurie, but always grateful for the summer break he and the boys spent with Laurie last year which left many a memory to smile about.
    Sending Love
    Rocky Laken

    Roxanna Laken
  2. Dearest Laurie,

    Always loved, will never be forgotten.

    Deirdre and Terry

    Terry and Deirdre Palmer
  3. Uncle Laurie, a very generous man with a massive heart who would do anything for anyone. You cared for so many and helped those who needed support and love. We all have so many lovely memories of you. Your nieces and nephews used to get so excited before you arrived, you would have a boot full of Teddies for us all to choose from, you were ‘mean’ on the old grabbing machine. You tried to show us the ropes but only you had the skill.I have memories of you arriving at The Oaks, roaring up the drive on your motorbike, just popping in for a cuppa. Your little mini, which I’m sure you were too tall for. You let us watch you teach trampolining and let us have a bounce once the class had finished. So many memories Laurie, you’ll never be forgotten. Still, Rosie and Connor have the little doll size tea pot etc., various toys and figures that you sent them and they know it was once Uncle Lauries’. Your good memory was greatly appreciated and still is, as we read stories from your childhood. Many letters and postcards from you, oh and yes, the re-used envelopes, how could I forget that one. It became a running joke between you and dad, sending things back and forth in the same envelope or box. Ah, that made me smile just remembering that.
    You will be greatly missed by many, no more suffering, no more pain. Rest in Piece, God Bless Laurie. With love always Kerri, Stephen and families. xxxxx

    Kerri Laken
  4. Laurie ran a most enjoyable Table Tennis club at George Green School In East London. Our 4 kids had a great time. We’re grateful to God for such a warm, kind and generous leader/ friend.

    Martin and Jan Evans
  5. Laurie Laken was a Table Tennis coach and youth worker on the Isle of Dogs for 26 years. The most patient, kind and lovely man I have ever met.

    When I was 7 years old my dad was the local vicar at Christ Church on the Isle of Dogs and I first started playing in the youth club in the crypt underneath the church. Laurie had two tables in there and so many kids playing table tennis 3 nights a week. We used to play round the table with him feeding the balls and us aiming for fun size smarties, snickers and mars bars.

    My mum was a Maths teacher in George Green School next door where Laurie used to also run Table Tennis sessions as well as Trampolining.

    In the school holidays Laurie would organise training camps with top international players and coaches to come to Isle of Dogs. Such vivid memories of being 8 years old and amazed by international seniors Grant Solder, Andrew Eden and Skylet Andrew coming to coach us and play exhibition matches.

    Laurie lived on Cahir Street 50 metres from Harbinger Primary School where my family all went. So many people are still playing table tennis on the back of Laurie’s legacy. And more importantly with the complete understanding of the importance of how much a friendly welcome, a warm smile, a bat in the hand straight away and loads of positive encouragement brings the best out of everyone.

    I can’t thank Laurie enough for everything he has done for me and the impact he has had on my life. I am really pleased I am able to come today to Poole to say goodbye.

    “To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, to all bravely await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”
    ― William Henry Channing ❤️

    Tim Holtam
  6. Laurie was a big part of my early childhood as a Friend of my family and also best man at my parents wedding . I attended all his lessons at George green . Trampolining , table tennis and badminton. He always seemed to be smiling and radiated positive energy. The same kindness he adopted around my children when I visited him in swanage he had a natural and relaxing way about him that Simply put you at ease . My fondest memory is when he pretended to eat my goldfish when I was around seven by holding a sliver of carrot in his hand while plunging it into my fish bowl and pulling it out flapping about before eating it and waiting for my meltdown . He couldn’t stop laughing for ages . A very bright light gone out .

    Peter Longwell
  7. Laurie,
    It’s difficult to express what you meant to me personally and to us as a family whilst growing up on the Isle of Dogs and the early years we spent together.

    I remember at around 6 years old you taking time to teach me table tennis. I was too short for the table for a while and you gave me cushions to stand on but you continued (patiently) giving me your time and coaching me then and for the years to follow.

    Thank you for the years of the club you ran for us at George Green, the time you tirelessly gave away week in, week out but what a club you developed! A place where so many kids could come, play, learn be safe. You had created a real community and family there.

    I remember the tournaments you’d drive us to in you brown mini/metro car.

    I remember Tuesday evening practice at the Crypt with each evening ending with “round the table” aiming to knock down boxes of smarties. (something i do with my kids now, we call it smartie Saturday)

    I remember you being more than just a coach you were a friend to me and our family during our time on the island and after, sharing birthdays and Christmases together and I’m so grateful that my mum (Jill Newman) was able to see you fairly recently to catch up.

    You will always be remembered!!
    Tristan

    Tristan Newman - Jill Newman, Dave (Bear) Newman & Jessica Newman
  8. Yes, to add the message left by my son, Tristan… Laurie, we loved you from the moment we met you on the Isle of Dogs in 1984, when you entered our hearts and home and became very much ‘part of our family’. I remember all those years of shared Sunday lunches and Christmases; playing the piano and singing all the old songs together; introducing Bear & Tristan to table tennis and being such a brilliant coach; playing tennis very early on Sunday mornings at the courts in the park opposite Island House. Your generous spirit and kindness flowed from you into our lives and we will ever be the richer. You were a blessing from God; your life impacted countless people. So glad to meet up with you in Swanage in recent days… still the same loving, smiling, ‘twinkle in the eye’ Laurie. Thank you for being YOU.

    Jill Newman
  9. You will always be missed Uncle Lawrence and all be in my heart xxxxxxxx

    Ricky Hall and Selina Hall xxxx
  10. With much love and gratitude to a wonderful friend. Big heart, big smile and twinkle in your eye. A wonderful man, who lead a fulfilled life. Thank you Laurie, for being you.

    Colin & Sue Chapman
  11. Thank you Laurie for being you. Thank you for all the fun and joy you brought into the lives of others. Thank you for the kind support for so many children including my own on the Isle of dogs. Thank you for all your encouragement to me over the years from being best man at mine and Barry’s wedding, to more recently our chats on the phone and my trips to Swanage to see you. You loved the view out of your window so much. You have been a privaledge to know, a kind loving man who will never be forgotten. xx

    Jenny Palmer [nee Longwell]
  12. Me and my three brothers went to Laurie’s table tennis club at George Green’s School on the Isle of Dogs, many moons ago. He was always smiling, welcoming and supportive, taking time to help us hone our table tennis skills. We’re thankful for all the time and effort Laurie gave us and so many other young people, providing an opportunity to try a new sport and to improve.

    Grace Wilson (nee Evans)
  13. I was so sad to get the news this morning that my old Table Tennis Coach and friend Laurie Laken had passed away, and that it was his funeral today. In fact the news has hit and saddened me so much that I’ve just not been able to work from home as usual today. Instead I’ve pretty much spent the day reminiscing about all the good times playing Table Tennis at the club Laurie ran all those years ago – George Green TTC on the Isle of Dogs. And remembering all the wonderful memories of Laurie over the years. As well as meeting up with Tristan Newman, another Laurie protege, to watch his funeral together at 2pm.

    And rather than post something quickly, I wanted to take some time to really think back to those days, to thank God for, pay proper tribute to and honour Laurie for all he did for me, my brothers and sister, and so many other youngsters growing up in East London at the time.

    My Dad first took me along to George Green TTC probably sometime back in 2003 (I think?), when I was around 12 years old, and my sister Grace and brothers Nathanael and Nahum soon followed (or were there from the start, I don’t remember exactly!). It was Laurie who really taught us how to play Table Tennis properly (building on my Dad giving us some basics!), coaching us himself, as well as organising coaching camps with top England players / coaches of the time.

    He ran Tournaments for all us kids, getting sponsorship from blue chip companies such as Barclays, the Daily Telegraph etc, and having representatives from the companies to come and present trophies etc to us. Laurie ran the Tournaments in plenty of different age groups to give as many of us kids the chance to compete and perhaps win a trophy or medal – Under 9, Under 11, Under 14, Under 17, Under 21 as well as Senior and Family Tournaments!

    As we grew older, we’d get the D7 or D8 bus from where we lived in Poplar to the Isle of Dogs, getting off next to George Green School, and being keen as mustard and usually early, we’d all greet Laurie with a ‘Hello Lol’! to which he’d replied with his customary cheeriness ‘HeLol, HeLol, HeLol, HeLol’ as there were 4 of us!

    Laurie (Lol as we all affectionately called him) was always so warm and welcoming, friendly and kindly, with a real twinkle in his eye and a smile that would light up his whole face – he had such a wonderful way about him.

    My brothers and sister and I weren’t in the running for trophies in our first year or so at GGTTC, but as we progressed and improved under the watchful eye and expert tutelage of Laurie, as well as the top coaches he brought in, we started getting better results in / winning the tournaments. In fact our family had a bit of a set to with Laurie, as, after one year when I think all 4 of us won every single age group available, and also the family tournament, Laurie changed the rules so you could only enter one age group! As young, super competitive Table Tennis players eager for trophies, we were aghast and we and our parents told Laurie in no uncertain terms how unfair his new rules were…

    Poor old Laurie (he got a good bit of flak from us at the time) dealt with that situation really well, kindly and gently but firmly pointing out that he had to be fair to others and give them a chance, and that the Evans family winning everything didn’t really help the participation and success of everyone else. We didn’t see it that way at the time, but it didn’t take too many years of hindsight until we saw Laurie’s wisdom and kindliness in that decision!

    As well as the serious business of playing TT and receiving coaching, there’d also be the fun times each session – playing round the table and trying to knock over Mars mini chocolate bars and boxes of smarties etc, which was a great treat if you managed it, especially at that age in those days! Or the TT version of cricket, where if you managed to smash the ball straight against the wall it would be a ‘6’, or ‘4’ if it bounced before hitting the wall, but beware, you could also be caught out!

    After we moved on from GGTTC, we remained in close contact with Laurie over the years he remained in East London – he’d pop round to our house and we’d have great chats. He always remembered our Birthdays and wrote us all Birthday cards which we’d receive in the post – all 4 of us! I remember he’d also write the names of a few other Old Testament Bible characters in the card as a bit of an inside joke with all 4 of us having Bible names!

    When Laurie announced he was retiring to Swanage we were all gutted, as he’d become such a good family friend, despite not seeing him at Table Tennis Club every week as we did in previous years.

    After Laurie moved, he’d still write postcards and letters to us and we’d keep in touch, albeit more intermittently.

    I’m very grateful for two opportunities to visit Laurie with my own family – my wife Emma and our boys Benjamin (9) and Zachary (7).

    The first time was on a family holiday in Dorset when the boys were young, and Laurie came to visit us at the holiday cottage we’d rented – we had a lovely time catching up, chatting, went for a walk around the field / farm and Laurie brought soft toys for the boys, which they loved (and still have to this day!). We also found out more about Laurie’s Christian heritage, from being in and then being a leader in the Covenanters.

    The second time was on 26th October 2016, when on another family holiday in the area, we met up with Laurie in Swanage at the amusements! Again we chatted, watched the boys go on the rides etc, then went to the park on the top of the cliffs and chatted whilst the boys played. Reminisced about the good old Table Tennis days, caught up on news, as well as talked matters of faith, God’s love for us in Jesus and eternal life.

    That was the last time we saw Laurie – we spoke a couple times since, Laurie sent me some old photos of us all from the good old GGTTC days, and I sent him one or two cards with photos from our times together in Swanage, but that was the last time we saw each other…

    I remember parting with very warm hugs, hugs and kisses from our boys (who Laurie had brought yet more soft toys for, won from the local amusement arcades no doubt, and which again we still have to this day!), a copy of a Gideon’s Bible given to Lol as a parting gift, and real love and warmth in our hearts for such a lovely lovely guy.

    Such a kind, caring, nurturing, encouraging, loving, warm, generous, servant-hearted, thoughtful and gentle man – wonderful qualities and characteristics that I and we all would do well to emulate.

    Thank you so much for everything Lol – you played such a big part in our childhood and teenage years, even impacting our children’s lives. Benj and Zach loved you very much even though they’d only met you twice, and we’ve prayed for you most bedtimes since.

    We loved you Laurie, very much, and pray that you’re safe in the arms of Jesus.

    Love, Micah, Em, Benj, Zach (as well as Grace, Nathanael, Nahum, Martin and Jan) Evans X

    Micah Evans
  14. You will be missed our amazing coach ! You made us love the sport of table tennis and made it a passion for life. Thank you Laurie. You are a legend to us all ! Nizam

    Nizam
  15. You will be missed our amazing coach ! You made us love the sport of table tennis and made it a passion for life. Thank you Laurie.

    Nizam
  16. Like my brother, Peter, said.. Laurie was very much part of my early childhood Saturdays at George Green, Isle of Dogs. Trampoline, Badminton and especially Table Tennis. I learned how to hit the ball and when I mean ‘hit it!’ that was a phrase Laurie would often use when I played against him. Words of encouragement to be more courageous, I think. He also visited us many times in Wells-next-the-Sea, Nth Norfolk, where we moved to after the Island, and I remember a fondness for buying and eating Lemon Cake. I was working when the funeral took place today, so will watch the recording early next week. Sad to see him go. Fond memories.

    Philip Longwell
  17. Ben cavanagh

    He was my friend
    He was a man I admired
    He was a true gentleman
    He was a man who has made me the man and person I am today.
    I will miss my friend Laurie until the day we meet again
    Forever in my heart
    Forever my friend
    Ben
    Xx

    Ben Cavanagh
  18. Uncle Laurie was the kindest lovliest man, He always was smiling, generous and loving. I remember him teaching me to waltz when I was a little girl at a family wedding, On holidays in Swanage he taught my boys how to get the toys from the grab machines, he always had a boot full at any family getherings we had. He loved his tropical fish and gave my son a fish tank so he could set up his own. He was a talented artist too. He cared for and helped so many people when he was living on the Isle of dogs. You will be missed by so many. Rest in peace now. Lots of love from, Kim, Peter and Sam. xxxx

    Kim Laken
  19. Dear Uncle Laurie, we all have so many wonderful memories of you and how generous, kind and warm-hearted you were, you will be sorely missed.

    Christened as Lawrence, to us Uncle Laurie,
    The mischievous smile we will always remember,
    Your warmth and persona would light up a room,
    With the unmistakable grin that would make us beam.

    Re-used envelopes and unmarked stamps,
    The Honda bike and catching crabs,
    Table tennis and trampolining,
    Loads of Teddies from the grab machines.

    Playing games and silly jokes,
    Blackberry picking to make a pie,
    The two up, two down in the Isle of Dogs,
    To the beautiful view over the beach of Swanage.

    A lovely man with a heart of gold,
    Who touched so many lives throughout his vocation,
    Coaching, teaching and mentoring,
    Giving life skills to those in need.

    Today we celebrate a fulfilled life,
    Of happiness, charm and lots of joy,
    A life that accomplished so so much,
    That ended in peace and tranquility.

    Ascended to heaven,
    To join those he loves,
    To make them smile like he did to us,
    Farewell dear Uncle we will see you soon.

    Tony, Ali and Family XXX
  20. Dearest Uncle Laurie will always remember your teddies and toys and your great big smile you would light up any room will never forget
    Rest in peace uncle Laurie

    Tracey Hall and family
  21. Dearest Uncle Laurie will always remember your teddies and toys and your great big smile you would light up any room will never forget reading all this messages been lovely thankyou.
    Rest in peace uncle Laurie

    Tracey Hall and family
  22. Loved spending time with Laurie when I was a young boy with my brothers Bradley Wright and kieran Wright, taking trips to his beloved house in Swanage, Dorset. He taught us how to play table tennis 🏓. Our dad was a young boy also when he met Laurie doing trampolining. He will be forever missed but never forgotten in our hearts. What a great man and a great teacher.

    Terry, Bradley and Kieran Wright.

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