Fiona Phillips: A loving testimony to my wonderful father-in-law

Today, as you read this, I’ll be in Durham, attending my wonderful father-in-law’s funeral. He died a couple of weeks ago, aged 86, ­following a very full, happy life. So we can’t complain at all, really, especially in the current climate.

He was born, bred, married and spent his whole life in his beloved Glasgow. His funeral, later today, though, is in Durham – where he’d been staying with my brother-in-law, and where he died suddenly – rather than where he wanted it to be, in Glasgow, where his wife, my mum-in-law, is buried.null

Because of restrictions linked to coronavirus, the 15-minute service will be attended by close family only, a maximum of 12 people.

My dad-in-law, Martin Frizell – same name as his eldest son, my husband – was a much-respected chief sports writer for a Sunday newspaper and revered even by hard-to-please fellow Scot, Sir Alex Ferguson. I found this out when I bumped into Fergie while filming at Phil Neville’s wedding in 1999. Fergie, not known for a loving relationship with the press, said hello to me and then remarked, completely out of the blue: “Your father-in-law’s a great man”. And he was.

He was kind, he was funny, he was very much respected in the press and football communities, and always had an anecdote or a story to tell.

He made sure to read this page every week, and would often comment on something I’d written, so I’d have to watch what I wrote!

Last weekend we were touched to receive a sympathy card along with various press and football memories of my dad-in-law from Scottish football legend, Alex McLeish.

Why am I telling you this? Because that, for me, will be a lasting testimony to him. It was wonderful to hear how respected my dad-in-law was.

Although he, sadly, like so many others right now, will be denied a big send-off in his hometown, it’s important that we steal precious moments to remember the good times, especially during this awful, dark period for us all.

There will be so many people attending funerals this weekend, many due to coronavirus, most of them hurried, perfunctory affairs, with close family only in attendance, so it’s all the more important to take a moment to reflect and remember the good times…

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