Fowlmere poet has work published 11 years after death
- Credit: Archant
The wife of a Fowlmere architect who had “keen intelligence and humour “ has had a book of his poetry published 11 years after his death.
Sheila Andren's husband Erik was working with their daughter Lindy to edit and prepare his writing for publication when he died in 2008.
Lindy said: "Dad is so vividly present in the book, his personality positively leaps from the page. it is really special to be able to share his insights with so many people."
Erik - who lived in Fowlmere with Sheila from 2003 up until his death - had a very unusual life.
He was born Christopher Erik Andren in Malaysia - then Malaya - the year before the Second World War broke out, his first adventure in life was fleeing the Japanese invasion of the Malay Peninsula in 1941/2.
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Arriving in England, he was placed in boarding school, aged four. The end of the war enabled the family to return to the Far East, first to India and then Singapore.
Erik was born with a heart condition that limited his physical stamina and gave him a life expectancy of mid-teens - so the family travelled the world again in 1950 looking for a surgeon who could perform open heart surgery - which was then in its infancy.
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After being sent from America to London, the operation that saved his life was performed by Lord Brock at Guy's Hospital.
He was only the 12th open heart surgery patient and the youngest. In a time before heart-lung machines, Erik's body was chilled on a bed of ice to slow his heart down enough to enable the procedure.
Having travelled extensively due to the war and his health, Erik was rather behind in school and this was complicated by dyslexia.
Despite these hurdles, Erik made the best of his intelligence and wit, and used his talent with design to become an architect, specialising in aviation architecture and designing buildings for airlines in Libya, Rome and at Heathrow.
Erik met Sheila as a young man. They dated briefly before life separated them, he to return to Malaysia and she to take up the study of medicine. Erik was a confirmed bachelor when he and Sheila met again by chance some nine years later.
He was so impressed by her, he proposed the next day.
Happily she accepted and so began a long and successful marriage lasting to his death.
A naturally inquisitive person, Erik eagerly adopted computers in the 1980s and when frustrated by the way his printer failed to feed paper accurately, invented a device that fitted 80 per cent of printers then on the market, and successfully sold it from a shed in the back yard.
Later in life he became fascinated by the fall of the Iron Curtain and what the sudden opening of the Soviet Block to the west might mean for people who had only known totalitarian regimes for more than 70 years.
He was to spend the last 20 years of his life working with young people across Eastern Europe, supporting them to develop their values and vision in preparation for leadership.
This work has been taken up and extended to South America and Africa.
In 2018, his wife Sheila heard of a publisher who might be interested to publish a book of poetry and prose, an approached Kennedy & Boyd of Edinburgh.
This began the process that resulted in Trickledown: Poems and Contemplations being launched at the Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester on Saturday.
The family said that the Orchard Tea Garden put on a great spread, and the launch was well attended and generated brisk sales.
Sheila, Ross and Lindy each spoke a few words about Erik and then read a poem from the book -Timeless Mind, Trickledown and Friends - to laughter and applause.
At the launch, Sheila said: "I am delighted to be able to honour Erik's memory.
"It's lovely to see so many people here - a testimony to a special and much loved man."
And son Ross said: "Dad would have loved having so many people gathered together like this and enjoying his poetry."
Trickledown: Poems and Contemplations is available to buy from Amazon.