Sid’s Story – Remembering James Sydney George Bickle

James Sydney George Bickle, known as Syd or Sid , came into the world on the 28 August 1930, born in Nymett Rowland in North Devon to George and Cecilia.

Sid grew up within a large family, in Eggesford in the Devon countryside a quiet and tranquil place.  He was one of six children, he had five sisters, Joan, Dorothy, Betty, Hazel and Vera and one brother Fred.  Their father, George, worked as a ‘Rabbit Trapper’.

There were no schools in their village, so Sid, and his sisters and brother, had a daily walk to and from the nearest village to go to school, about a 6 mile round trip.

During World War Two evacuees were sent to Devon for safety, from the bombings in London, Sid made friends with many of the children including one he stayed in touch with, Tony Bell.

When Sid was called up for National Service he moved in with Mick Rowney in Woodley, he served in the Army from the 8 January 1949 and saw active duty in Africa.  He never spoke about this period of his life.

Whilst living in Reading Sid met a young Phyllis Coles from Caversham, at a dance hall.  He liked her so much that he followed her home to Prospect Street.

Sid and Phyllis became a couple and married at the Parish Church in Caversham on the 16 May 1959.  They settled at 9 Cromwell Road in Caversham, which remained Sid’s home for the rest of his life.

Sid began his working life as a Carpenter/Chippy and later he undertook general maintenance work, he could turn his hand to most things.  Sid never shied away for hard work, putting in long hours most days, he thought nothing of travelling to Bristol for a day’s work, returning home some twelve hours later, and then still be doing more when he got home.

Sid was always a dedicated and loving husband to Phyllis.  In 1961 their first son Paul came along, followed by Stephen in 1964.

Family holidays were usually spent at Sid’s parents’ home in Devon where the boys enjoyed the outdoors and surrounding countryside, this continued until the mid to late seventies.  Other holidays were spent in Cornwall and on the South Coast.

Sid initially worked on the building sites, in 1970 he decided to go self-employed, someone with Sid’s work ethic would never be out of work, he was a proud man and a consistent provider for his wife and sons.

Very sadly in April 1998 Phyllis, who was 70, suffered a heart attack and passed away.

Paul and Stephen wondered how their Dad would cope without their Mum… Sid was a strong man, and although he missed Phyllis very much, he got on with his life.  He never retired, just continued on… his hobby was his work… his profession was his hobby… the two were the same as far as Sid was concerned.

Sid’s favourite place to be was always his SHED… even on Christmas Day, but only after presents had been opened, then Sid would retreat to his shed.  He always had something to keep him occupied, he was often making things for people.  He enjoyed the garden and always kept it looking good.

Sid was also a house-proud man, with his DIY skills he was able to keep the home immaculate, it always looked good.

His skills stretched to the kitchen, Sid could cook a good Sunday roast, something he continued to do Sunday, and he always enjoyed a cup of ‘Builders’ tea or a coffee.

When he was relaxing, he’d watch some television, in the past he enjoyed all the television favourites, Morecombe & Wise, The Two Ronnies, Open All Hours and Only Fools & Horses and documentaries too.  He enjoyed watching sports, he followed England for all the big games in football and rugby.

Sid had good friends, some going back 40 years, Jim Plunkett, Mick Goddard and Peter Compton, he kept in touch and always made time for his friends.

They would call in to Sid regularly, he enjoyed their visits, when they would have a chat and a coffee together.

Sid was blessed with five grandchildren, he was a dedicated and loving grandfather to Suzanne, Jonathan, Daniel, Jordon and Elliott.

He was a loving and supportive Dad, always there for his sons and their families whenever he was needed.

Sid was always a very fit and healthy man for the majority of his life, keeping active and occupied certainly worked for Sid.  Paul recalled how he found his Dad, in his 80’s, had made a ‘trolley’ to transport his tools and equipment needed for any job he might have, in his local area, he showed no signs of putting his feet up for a rest.

Sid had made many friends and acquaintances in Caversham over the many years he had lived and worked there.

It has only been in the last three months that Sid was unwell.  During a stay in hospital, he was diagnosed with cancer.  Typically, Sid’s stoic response to the sad news was… ‘I’ve had a great life, I’m not afraid to die’… a quiet and dignified acceptance.

Sid passed away suddenly, but peacefully, five days after his diagnosis.

Sid will always be remembered as a quiet man, hardworking, family orientated with traditional beliefs and values…

A wonderful husband of almost forty years to Phyllis… and great Dad and Grandad…

Sid will be sorely missed and lovingly remembered by all of his family, his friends and everyone that knew and loved him.

May he rest in peace…