Derek was born on 8 August 1961 to Lena and Robbie Hughes. He was the youngest brother to 6 sisters.
Initially Derek’s family lived at Scrogg Bank Farm; later they moved to Railway Cottages in Long Marton. He attended Appleby Primary School and Appleby Grammar School, and Derek’s childhood involved football and trying to get out of going to school! On leaving school worked at the tax office in Penrith before starting at British Gypsum in 1979. Derek married Fran in 1984 and in that year they welcomed Nicola whilst they were living at Littlebeck. Graeme arrived in 1987 and by this time they had moved to Crosby Terrace in Kirkby Thore. Although as an adult he thoroughly enjoyed living in Kirkby Thore, whenever he was asked he would always say he was from Long Marton; this was where he made lifelong friends.
Derek had three passions in life.
Derek was a lifelong, devoted, Everton fan and proudly displayed his Everton tattoo on his left arm. This was hard to miss as Derek’s outfit of choice was a T-shirt and bodywarmer if needed. You knew that temperatures were either really cold or he was sitting amongst football fans from the other team when he had a jacket on. It should be noted that Derek named his son after one of his heroes, Graeme Sharp. Graeme was also born on FA Cup final day and Derek made a swift exit from the hospital after the birth to catch the game.
As well as supporting it he also loved to play football. Playing for Appleby in his younger days and then Kirkby Thore and Long Marton in the Sunday league. His most recent victory was the John Smith Trophy in 2001 with Long Marton aged 40.
Many of the stories shared by his friends were about trips down to Goodison Park. In later years Derek and Nicola would go to matches together and went to the FA Cup Final at Wembley in 2008 together. Nicola’s husband Mark gained Derek’s full approval after he agreed to be signed up as a Forevertonian and joined them at one of the matches.
Derek’s main role was as a mixer man on the wet end at British Gypsum where his day-to-day work was the production of plaster board. He has been described as being immensely knowledgeable, loyal to his colleagues and always happy to help. His work ethic was described as honourable. Derek’s work colleagues really were his second family and he enjoyed the banter at work even if a lot of it was football related. He was also known to enjoy a good practical joke! Derek’s long service at Gyspum meant that he had worked with three generations of some families. Something which he was proud of and enabled him not only to pass on his experience but to also learn new skills from. The messages of kindness received from his colleagues young and old pays testimony to the kind of a man that he was.
Derek was a loving and caring father. He was always supportive of everything Nicola and Graeme did whether it was driving them around the country looking at universities or lending Nicola money because she’d rung to say. “I really should bungy jump and sky dive whilst travelling.” With a sigh and shake of the head he would agree. There will always be the treasured memories of family holidays at the seaside. Once he took the family out in a rowing boat and got further out to sea than he wanted. On finally getting back to shore two elderly men who had been watching them came over and said “we weren’t sure you were going to make it.” The childhood magic of Blackpool at illumination time will always be remembered alongside his smiling face. Derek liked to encourage Graeme’s interest in Science and space as a child and would often be found doing science experiments or discussing something Graeme had read in the encyclopaedia. Such discussions about the world continued and Dad enjoyed this time he spent with Graeme.
His granddaughters loved Dad being their human horse, listening to him read stories and play games. They loved stealing his toast at breakfast time and will miss the excitement of driving to the train station to pick him up for his visits. Due to his influence they have a football goal in the garden and they know that Everton is the best football club. Nicola says, “Dad was at his happiest sat in the sunshine in our garden watching them play around him.”
A private funeral service and burial, attended by family, close friends and a representative of British Gypsum, was held the the church of St Margaret & St James, Long Marton, on 22 January 2021.