Small ads

Lives Remembered

- Eric Williams

Eric Williams Left: Eric, a week before the accident,
in his Robin Reliant

From Chris Ratcliffe
Saturday, 3 March 2007

I was shocked to learn yesterday evening that my old friend, Eric has been killed (Thursday evening) in a car crash near his home in France. It was a head-on collision, one occupant of the other car is in hospital; the other in jail. Eric was driving his three wheeled Robin Reliant, a vehicle he has famously driven for many years.

Eric and I both first moved to Hebden Bridge in the same month; May 1975, and we both occupied terraced houses as part of the Queens Terrace Squat until we were evicted in late 1976. In the summers we would go to the free festivals, and I have good memories of our encampment in the woods at an early Stonehenge Festival; Eric forever making much needed cups of tea over the open fire and playing some of the lesser known Donovan songs on his guitar.

For the whole time I knew him, Eric practised transcendental mediation, and was important in influencing many of our friends to take up meditation. It would be easy to attribute his laid-back way of life on the meditation but maybe the meditation gave him the wisdom to realise he did not want to be part of the rat race, the ever increasing pace of modern life. But laid back he was.

Eric worked as a carpenter, and a couple of years ago did some work in our kitchen. If we were lucky, he would arrive by about 1pm and would then work right through till around five or six; stopping only for rollups and cups of tea. When we joked about his half day routine, he told us that in a previous job they had nicknamed him "Eric, the half a day" after Monty Python's "Eric, the half a bee"

If anywhere was home to Eric, it was probably Hebden Bridge; he lived here for many years, and returned regularly. Recently, he had been living in France. He was one of the many colourful characters who moved here in the seventies, when houses were being knocked down because they said no-one wanted to live in them. With house prices as they are now, Eric could never have afforded to move back. We are a poorer place without the likes of Eric.

I can't believe he will no longer be around to chat about the good times we used have.

From Graham Findley
Wednesday, 7 March 2007

EricIt was a rare event when Eric drank coffee; he was a tea drinker. You could sit for hours in a companiable silence, broken only by an occasional enquiry of "Cup of tea?" He lived in my house in Hebden Bridge for many years, the rent was paid by tea making, roll-ups, companionship and the occasional bit of good advice. That, and his horrible vegetable stews when I couldn't be bothered to cook. Mind you, he never willingly took advice - if you wanted him to do something, the trick was to advise against it; something I never mastered.

I first met Eric in 1971, when some mutual friends in Nottingham decided to go down to Falmouth to 'find' him. He allowed himself to be found and so began an enduring friendship with one of the most awkward but inoffensive people I've ever met. Not everybody liked him, of course - none of my girlfriends did, and some people dismissed him as work-shy, but he was capable of putting a great deal of effort into his friends. He became a fixture of life in Hebden during the 70's and 80's though he suffered from 'valley fever' which eventually drove him to try life in France.

He had many talents - an excellent artist, photographer, woodworker and he was very community orientated, volunteering for many things that kept people together, though he always struggled with authority and any form of organisation - a real anarchist.

I was often struck by his affinity with children, though childless himself (as far as I know!)

He often made the most silly business decisions, especially when he was confronted with the unexpected presence of money. Always frugal, he was used to living on very little, especially as he had a real hatred of claiming benefit.

Funny how you don't miss someone until you can never see them again; this exasperating but very human person called Eric Williams left behind a whole lot of memories for all those who knew him.

From Julie Cockburn

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

I woke up early the morning after Chris told me about Eric and found myself trying to reconstruct his image in my half asleep mind, I could see the quirky stance, a bit diffident and shy. The drainpipe jeans and skinny legs, any one of a number of jackets over the years, pale face, curly hair. I'm pleased I saw Eric at Jim and Jane's in France last summer, had a big hug, a smile and a chance for a bit of a natter. He was a gentle man and I'll miss him, I especially treasure the first photo of Jennie taken by Eric when she was just three hours old.

From Jude Howe
Sunday, 11 March 2007

I'm glad to have spent some life time with Erik. Special memories include bonfires at Queens Terrace, communal Christmas meals on Broughton Street, Glastonbury, North Wales, camping on the Isle of Man with Douglas and Ben, his motorbike, The Nutclough, Guinness, snooker, late night music and coal fires. He was a complex person with a passion for community, loyalty and integrity.

From Lindsay
Monday, 12 March 2007

Thinking about Erik

Barry and I met Erik in Nottingham in 1973. He was a loyal friend and he and I kept in touch irregularly by e-mail and cards. 34 years of friendship!

Actually Erik was a bit of a dish in those early years, all that thick, long hair and blue eyes. He was a gentle man. People often couldn’t get their heads round his seeming inactivity. He was a master of slow and liked his weed as well as being a night bird. His day often didn’t start till 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

I know I began to wonder if our kitchen units at Dene Cliffe that Erik was building would ever be finished. There was tea to drink, rollups to smoke, meditations twice a day.

He was laid back almost to the point of horizontal. But he did a lovely job and the wood units stayed till I left in the house in 2003 and maybe beyond.

He was a good friend. He put me up in his house on Broughton Street when the relationship with Barry finally went pear-shaped and continued to be a friend to us both and the children throughout.

What more can I say….. fantastic dress sense, home owner extraordinaire, transport king of the road, music lover, guinness drinker, trades club supporter and egalitarian through and through. There were times when I wanted to shake him up and there were times when it was just lovely to see him. It just doesn’t seem right that he’s gone.

Thanks to Erik for re-igniting old friendships

With love
March 2007

From the Reading family, Coventry
Tuesday, 13 March 2007

We were so shocked and saddened to hear of Erik's death. We got to know him through his visits to my brother, Pat Donovan in Banbury. Pat knew Erik for many years, from their time in Nottingham and Erik regularly called to visit him on his trips over from France. I know he will miss his old friend and their musical evenings sorely.

Eric Williams


Taken in '97 when his sister Val got her MBE. Not visible in this photo of Eric in the Limo, but he was wearing his normal jeans to go with the rather out of character attire.

From Simon
Thursday, 15 March 2007

I remember best his smile; it was never very far from his face, especially if he'd scored a point in theological argument! He was a good carpenter, slow but precise.

God bless, Eric! You took your time and you did a good job!


EricFrom The Lindley gang at Rough Top
Saturday, 17 March 2007

Heard about it a couple of days ago from Jim & Jane who brought his ashes back from Normandy. Very sad that he won't be coming over again because we all grew pretty fond of Eric. He used to travel by train with our 16 year boy Mo to Jacob Kramer art college in Leeds where they were both doing separate courses there, he as a mature student.

We visited one Open Day in Summer 1983 and snapped a pensive Eric (left) in his work space in the Design Dept. Plenty of memories especially his photographing various interesting characters and situations in the many places he visited.

We do hope these pictures still exist and are being looked after somewhere safe because they are also a record of those unique experimental times.

If anyone has got some of his stuff and doesn't mind sharing I would love to digitize the best of it and hopefully stick it on a cd/dvd for local distribution.

Please send pictures to: Flat 1, Unity Street, Hebden Bridge HX7 8HQ with return address or scan and digitize them yourself and send as email attachments to: jk.stoodley@virgin.net (try to keep their size below 500MB and send only one or two at a time - cheers Kev)

Anyway, go lightly now Eric and in your own time of course mate.

From Donna Williams
Sunday, 18 March 2007

I am Eric's eldest niece. On behalf of the family, I would like to thank you all for sharing your memories of Eric.

It was good to hear from his friends and a comfort for us to know that he had the support and depth of friendship he had with all of you.

Eric kept pretty much to himself, but from time to time would turn up and be welcomed in. Well we would catch a glimpse of him when he made tea between meditations. I lived most of my life in South Africa and so met him on very few occasions. We always had a good conversation and exchange of beliefs. I think we have more familial similarities between us than we ever imagined.

We laid his ashes to rest yesterday in the rose garden where his parents' ashes are.

It was a beautiful day to celebrate his life and remember him. It was a short and relaxed ceremony. I gave a short eulogy and covered some fond memories his brothers and sisters have of him. It had a light hearted side, as Eric would have expected no less.

It struck me when you analyse his life that he lived the modern way - he would be gutted to realise: He left home; took a gap year longer than most; owned a home; gave it up for community living and mid life even tried a monastery. In his later years, he downsized, put his belongings in storage (Albeit it garages) and retired to a barn in France. He even held an offshore bank account and owned not one but three cars! (He apparently owned red; yellow and green robin reliants, a traffic light complement).

On the serious side, he had many strong characteristics that made us proud, especially his commitment to friends and his desire to help, even to the extent that that was what he was doing the night he died. A loner but never lonely!

If someone can let me know how, I have some photographs to post on this site from yesterday.

Bless you all for sharing your memories and for being his friend!

From Peter
Monday, 26 March 2007

You were a good friend to me and probably dragged me out of the mire.

From Dave Galliers
Thursday, 3 May 2007

A great loss to all of us. I first met Eric 30 years ago and we have met on and off since then.
Always quiet but what he said, you listened to.
I always link Eric with Che Guevara - only because, when we shared a house in Nottingham many years ago, Eric made some money silk screen printing the classic Che poster. They had to dry somewhere and so Eric used our house to hang them up like washing on lines across the rooms with Clothes pegs. We would all wake up to hundreds of Mr Guevara staring down at us - now when I see the poster, I always think of Eric.

We will all miss him.

From Maryon
Friday, 18 May 2007

I was terribly upset when I heard of Erik's untimely death. He and I had been friends in Nottingham days (when he was Eric, no 'k' - that shift was something to do with Monty Python, I think). Then we lost touch until, a few years ago, he and Paddy Donovan (also of Nottingham) rang me one night at 11.30pm, on the whisky, having had a serious attack of nostalgia and tracked me down. I was so glad they had.

I saw him several times after that, and he would send lots of kind and funny emails. He was a good man and a wonderful, loyal friend, and lived his life the way he wanted.

I miss you, Erik.

From Tracie Milnes
Saturday, 8 September 2007

I was visiting Dave and Yvonne in Cornwall this summer and Patsy turned up. She told me of the sad news of Eric. It's becoming a bit of a habit with us. I had to ring her about my mum Linda. I felt and feel so sad about Eric not being of this earth anymore He is a fundamentle part of my childhood memories. He's there in everyone, smiling, quiet, gentle, always having time for me. I miss him although I hadn't seen him for years. I hope he knew how much he meant to me. I loved him xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

From Matt Auty
Thursday, 7 February 2008

As a friend of Erik living in France, I would just like to say that I am shocked at the sentence, as I am sure are all his other friends here.

We fondly remember Erik, and we remember him everytime we enjoy a drink at the Rugby Tavern (especially Friday Evenings, which are our regular Darts and Pool nights), where he lived at the time of his death.

We are keeping his memory alive by having a 'Reunion' of the 'Rugby Rifles' (our little club of darts and pool players, which Erik was part of) on the anniversary of his death.

We will be playing darts and pool, and competing for a trophy bought in his honour, and raising money to buy a memorial to Erik, hopefully a substantial bench for passers-by to rest and contemplate on, this year on the Saturday 1st of March 2008.

He is not forgotten here in Normandy and we intend to have reunion every year on or around the 1st March to remember him and how he touched our lives here in Normandy.

If any of his friends in the UK or further afield ever pass this corner of Normandy, we hope you will take the time to come and see us, and see what we have done to remember Erik by.

See also:

No Justice for Eric

From Jim Brierley

We have just been guided to a clip of Erik on YouTube, posted by a french musician mate of his.

One year on from his death, with the 'court case' dealt with (however un-satisfactorily), I feel able to add a little something to this tribute - we have been too close to the whole thing up to now...

We first encountered Erik sometime in the 80's in Hebden, but only really got to know him when Graham Findlay, myself and the rest of the Riverside Festival crew started having rotating planning meetings at each other's houses. We were sat round a table at Graham's and suddenly a voice came out of the gloom at the edge of the room, adding a suggestion or making a comment, often useful, sometimes surreal!

As anyone who had Erik in their lives will testify, the relationship seemed mainly to consist of either discussing his latest lifestyle abberation as we saw it - or trying to persuade him to follow a more traditional course - a case in point, he bought the mother of all woodburners when he got his place over here - 2 years later it was still sat shrinkwrapped on the pallet, despite several of us offering to install it for him. The rationale (I think) was that the collection and storage of the necessary wood was too complicated...

Whilst I go to the pub cited by Matt above for the music, Erik's sporting prowess was apparently quite impressive - I reckon he was as busy during the last year as he had ever been, as the musical side of things was also shaping up quite nicely with gigs at local folkie bars and so on, as well as a multitude of jam nights.

He loved animals - and they him - and regularly house/petsat for us when we went back to UK, but the only pet he had out here was the most scruffy, malodorous ginger tomcat which moved in with him. They had frequent disagreements about the ownership of the warmest chair - the cat usually won!

Finally, I'd just like to pass on what Erik (and Rob Armstrong too for that matter) taught me by their example - you can and do affect the lives of those around you by how you live your life, even the most quiet and modest of us has an effect, and we all leave traces of ourselves with those we meet.

From Cosmic Dave
Friday, 12 March 2010

So sad Eric. I had just made friends with you and was looking forward to spend time with you upon my return. I lost two other special friends that same week. All too much, but whatever - rest in peace.

Five year anniversary of Eric's death

From Linda Carter
Thursday, 1 March 2012

Thinking of you today especailly, it's jam night tonight as it was then. You will always be remembered here and spoken about often. Take care xxxx


From Val Weedon
Thursday, 31 May 2012

Thank you Linda for posting on the 5th anniversary of Eric's death (1st March 2007) a day my whole family won't ever forget, and I certainly won't forget that knock on the door from the police to break the news to me.

Out of the 5 siblings, Eric and I were the closest in age and closest in spirit. He was as rebellious as I was!

Miss you brother, but so glad your friends in France at the Rugby Tavern are still celebrating your life and the music jam nights you used to have. xxx



Eric's family gathered to remember him,
and scatter his ashes, with those of his parents.





More Lives Remembered