A POPULAR sports enthusiast and engineer who overcame child adversity to enjoy a fulfilled life, has died at the age of 83.

Derek Peter Ashford was born in Gillingham, Kent on July 13, 1937. Diagnosed with TB of the hip as a small child, he spent his formative years as a patient at the National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore, North London.

His father died during the Second World War while serving in the Far East, and his mother, a nurse, brought him up alone.

A boyhood fascination with aircraft and Saunders Roe apprenticeship brought Mr Ashford to the Island in 1954, at the age of 17.

He lodged at the Apprentices’ Hostel at Osborne and threw himself into many of the social activities available there, including dramatics and football.

In 1959 he met future wife Beryl and they married at St Saviour’s Church, Shanklin, in 1961. The couple have two children, Sarah and Stuart, and the family lived in Wootton before relocating to Ryde in 1975.

Mr Ashford led an active social life; an enthusiastic member of the IW Jazz Society, a bell-ringer at All Saints Church in Ryde and active member of Ryde Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.

Both he and Beryl became prominent in the Island’s badminton leagues as both players and organisers, Derek as chairman for five years.

He was a member of the IW Chamber of Commerce for School Industry Partnership for several years and a frequent supporter of Isle of Wight Speedway.

In his final post in 1992, Mr Ashford took over the Installation Department as field services manager. Responsible for managing the installation of radar systems worldwide, he made numerous overseas visits including South America, Saudi Arabia, China and the US.

Over a 45-year career at the Somerton site he worked for Decca, Plessey Radar, Siemens and British Aerospace — now BAE Systems.

Retiring from BAE Systems in 1999, Mr Ashford added golf to his interests, becoming a member of Ryde Golf Club.

During these years he enjoyed visits to and from his five grandchildren, holidays in France and trips overseas to wherever his son was teaching abroad.

An Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2008 made his life increasingly difficult.

He moved into care in 2017 at Northbrooke House in Havenstreet, where he was visited daily by Beryl and passed away on July 29 after a brief illness.

A private funeral was held at IW Crematorium on August 13, with a memorial service to take place in 2021 to celebrate his life.