Stephen Tanswell

To my darling son

Stephen James Tanswell was born on 30th March 1976 in Park Hospital, Davyhulme weighing 8lb 2oz. He was a much-longer for son. When the midwife told his father, Arthur, that he had a son, she said he grew ten foot in stature. In due course, his two little sisters, Nicola and Jemma came along, who he loved unconditionally, and was so proud of their achievements in life.

Stephen was a happy and loving son, and as I always say, never gave me a minutes cheek! He loved playing football, and he gained a brown belt in judo. Given his love in later life of reading military history books, you won’t be surprised to hear that he loved playing armies with toy soldiers as a young child – and as we all know Stephen loved to delegate. It was up to everyone else to line up the troops so he could knock them down!

As you can imagine, growing up in the Tanswell household was a lively affair. As a family, we ate round the table most evenings, often joined by Grandma Olive, who had to raise her hand to get a word in edgewise. If you’ve ever had a night out with my three children in one room together, I’m sure you can relate to this!

Stephen started his own car washing service at the age of 8, before taking on a paper round, and from the age of 16, he worked on British Salt’s twice yearly shutdowns as my husband Mike’s pipe fitters mate. Mike tells us that he was the best mate he ever had, and if he needed something, Stephen had pre-empted this and had great initiative. 

As a family, we worked together most weekends, sometimes working a full day in the cafe on Sir Matt Busby Way with the Arnies, going home to shower, change and then onto Stretford Banqueting Suite, otherwise known as the “Club”. Working together in the family business kept us close and gave us a catalogue of stories – too many to share with you today. I am sure everyone will have countless stories of Stephen which we look forward to hearing. This is where Stephen developed his well known and respected work ethic. Stephen gained his entrepreneurial spirit from his dad. Anyone who ever worked with Stephen knew he threw himself into everything he did, with dedication, enthusiasm and a lust for life.

Stephen loved Geography and one of his favourite pastimes was to challenge other to a capital cities quiz. If you were unlucky enough to accept the challenge, you would quickly learn that not only did he know the capital, he would know the history of the country, the flag and even the population. He prided himself on his general knowledge and anyone who played him at Trivial Persuit quickly realised, along with his competitive spirit, he really was a well read man of high intellect.

He loved travelling and this was a passion that continued throughout his life with his own family. On the day of his final A level exam, his best friend Steven Booth (Boothy) was knocking on the window of the exam hall, hurrying him up, so they could catch their flight to embark on their first season working in Ayia Napa, Cyprus. This was the beginning of many years travelling and continued his love of Cyprus and all things Cypriot, including his many friends and of course, his talent for Greek dancing. 

Chris Arnaoutis, who Stephen looked up to, recommended him for a job at Ayia Napa’s Rose and Crown pub. He soon impressed the owners with his charisma, confidence and ability to sell snow to the Eskimos, or in Stephen’s case, K cider to customers!

Following one summer season, Stephen and Boothy left Cyprus by boat and travelled to Israel. Funded by a combination of selling 3D Magic Eye posters, washing pots and working on construction sites, they managed to continue their travels to Egypt. It was on the 6th floor of a hotel in Cairo that they woke up to the smell of what they thought was breakfast cooking, only to find that the five floors below were completely burned out and dripping with water. They had slept through a hotel fire!

As many of his friends will have heard numerous times, their next big trip started in South Africa, visiting Johannesburg, Durban, Capetown and Musina. Being only 19 years of age, the obvious next step was to buy a 2 man tent and walk the 10k to Zimbabwe along the west coast to Bulawayo and on to Victoria Falls. It was here that they sold white water rafting trips to the tourists. Crossing the Zambeze river into Zambia, they were advised that if they headed to Malawi, they could get a bed for a dollar a night. On arrival, in typical Stephen fashion, they interrupted and joined a game of football to the delight of the local children, and quickly embedded themselves into the local community. Stephen had a special way of bringing people together and making everyone feel welcome. Stephen and Boothy soon discovered that they had contracted malaria and after 3 and a half weeks of suffering in their grass hut, they knew the only way out of their situation was to make their way back to South Africa to catch their return flight. It was a combination of public transport, the gift of the gab and sheer determination that they made it. Steven Booth’s mum, Carol and I drove to Heathrow to bring them home. On his return, Stephen weighed only 9 and a half stone and had a long ginger beard. I spent Easter with him in Monsall Isolation Hospital, and after his many months away, it was bitter sweet to have him to myself for three days to hear all about his adventures.

At the age of 21, after the sudden death of his father 1998, Stephen returned to Manchester permanently, from Cyprus, to support the family with the club, and it was here that he met the love of his life-Joanne. I was so lucky to have three children who all met wonderful partners who get on so well. Joanne, the founding member of the ‘in-laws’ club was soon joined by Matt, Nicola’s husband, and later Nick, Jemma’s fiancé. Stephen, Nicola and Jemma were labelled the ‘outlaws’, always grappling for air time. 

I have been so lucky that Stephen gave us a wonderful daughter-in-law and our three beautiful grandchildren, Jacob, Oliver and Emily who give me and Mike so much pleasure.

All of my three children make me so proud and I would like to say that I am so proud of Stephen – so proud of the life he built, the person he was inside and the beautiful family he went on to have. The number of people who attended the funeral is a testament to the man he was. 

From your loving Mum. I carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)




Dorothy Donegan

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