MULTI-talented Clifford Cardis, former lecturer at Swindon College and secretary of the Swindon Croquet Club, passed away last week after a four-year battle with cancer.

Clifford, 86, leaves behind wife Marie, son Kim, and daughter Dawn, as well as seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Born in Nilgiris in India, Clifford moved to the UK in search of work after India were given self-rule and he found it difficult to find a job after qualifying as a mechanical engineer.

“Naturally they gave all the jobs to the Indians,” said Marie, 86, of Old Town. “We were both Anglo-Indians, so he could not get a job in the airways which he had spent three years training for. His sister told him he had better go to the UK.”

Marie and Clifford met when he moved to Bombay to study an apprenticeship and joined her church, soon becoming conductor of their choir at the age of 19.

“He was a very musical man, and had a very deep, bass voice,” added Marie.

That love of music continued throughout his life as he became a regular feature at the Swindon Music Festival.

“One year he won, but they did not have a trophy,” said Marie. “He said to the organiser, where is my trophy? They said they did not have one, so we donated a trophy to them, and the next year he won it.

“Anything he did he excelled at. He had so much integrity and will to do well. He deserved all the kudos he got for working so hard.”

That work ethic was needed when Clifford came to the UK to discover his qualifications were useless, so he enrolled at King’s College London before taking on night classes at Swindon College.

“The only problem was they did not accept his qualifications, so he had to start from the bottom and work his way up again,” said Marie. “He got his certificate after studying at night school in Swindon College for three or four years.

“He came to Swindon to work for Vickers in South Marston, which is now the Honda plant, and got a job straight away.

“His teacher at the college was so impressed he recommended he went into teaching, and he decided to do just that.”

Clifford’s son Kim, 57, remembers a man who stuck by a moral code and loved being around people.

“If he said he was going to do something he would do it no matter what,” he said. “He was a very punctual person, because his view was that if you were not on time you were showing disrespect to the other person.

“He was very hospitable, and loved having lots of people round. When he was entertaining it would not be long before he got on the piano. He was an enormously talented person, and could sight read any music as soon as it was put in front of him.

“The other side was his professional life. Local industries would come to him if they had a problem they could not resolve. He was always willing to help people.

“He used to organise all the kids round the garden and we used to play cricket, or rounders.”

Clifford had fallen victim to prostate cancer in 1996, and had an operation which bought him another 14 years, but the problem resurfaced in 2010.

“Before he fell ill we used to have a bungalow on three acres which he helped build,” added Marie. “He got in a JCB to dig the foundations, and being a teacher he had eight weeks off for the summer so he was able to help the builders out.”

A service of thanksgiving will be held at Bath Road Methodist Church at 2.30pm on Friday, April 4. Family flowers only but donations for the Prospect Hospice welcomed.