Tribute to Joe Gilson

PUBLISHED: 14:43 09 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:51 15 June 2010

Joe Gilson

Joe Gilson

9/1/09: AFTER labour comes rest. Fitting and poignant words said in tribute to a legend of the construction industry by the Reverend Ben Bendrey in Honiton yesterday (Thursday).

9/1/09: AFTER labour comes rest. Fitting and poignant words said in tribute to a legend of the construction industry by the Reverend Ben Bendrey in Honiton yesterday (Thursday).

Part of the town centre came to a standstill out of respect for the late Joe Gilson, whose coffin was carried by a horse-drawn hearse to Honiton Baptist Church.

Mr Gilson, of Honiton, died on December 22. He was 64.

He left behind a legacy of true love, which he shared with his devoted wife Carol, and a lifetime of inspiration to civil engineers, many of whom went on to become pillars of the construction industry.

Some of those industry leaders were among more than 200 mourners.

Funeral director Penny Shoobridge carried a construction worker's hard hat in and out of the church during the noon service.

Carol told the Herald: "He was the love of my life and I was proud to be his wife."

Graham Grunden, former managing director of construction giant Morgan EST, told mourners Mr Gilson made a difference with his magic.

"Civil engineering is all about people, people like Joe Gilson," he said."He was one of those special people."

Never one to mince his words, unless a lady was present, Mr Gilson was a true 'worker', leading major roaadworks projects across Britain.

He built many of the country's motorways and was general foreman of the project to dual the A30 from Honiton to Exeter.

Stories about Joe's life abound, although those relating to women and his 'little black book' stopped the second he laid eyes on Carol - the love of his life.

A fan of spicey food, Mr Gilson considered himself a connoisseur of curries. However, while building the M20, he was forced to think again.

Mr Grunden said Indian workers offered Mr Gilson a curry - for breakfast. He downed the meal in one go. "A few seconds later, the after-burns set in," said Mr Grunden. "He grabbed what he thought was a bottle of water - only to find it was vodka!"

The construction industry, led by Mr Grunden, paid tribute to Carol for her endless love. She had not only been the love of her husband's life but dedicated her time to caring for him after prostate cancer spread to his lymph glands, crushing his immune system. Industry leaders said he could not have been better loved.

Morgan EST contributed to palliative care provided by Hospiscare. Nurse Angela Phillips was among the mourners.

Written tributes to Mr Gilson, 'dad', were made by his step-children Mandy, Wendy and Jamie in a book about his life. Mr Bendrey, a close friend of the family, described Mr Gilson as "a cross between Arthur Daley and Del Boy Trotter", saying he knew how to make money but did not believe in debt. He saved up for what he wanted. As a footballer, Beckham could bend it like him!

"There are many good things I could say about Joe, but we would be here until next week," said Mr Bendrey.

He lit four candles, representing grief, courage, memories and Jesus Christ.

Most significantly, mourners heard how Carol and Joe fought for a church wedding. Having both previously been married, Honiton Baptist Church was their last hope.

Mr Bendrey did not stand in the way of true love. The couple repaid the church with unstinting loyalty and generosity, becoming staunch supporters and a lifeblood of the congregation and its fund-raising.

Bette Middler's Wind Beneath My Wings was played as the coffin was taken in and out of the church.

Hymns were How Great Thou Art and Abide With Me. Mr Gilson's remains were cremated in Exeter the following day (today, Friday).


I would give you the world if I could. Instead I will give you all that is mine to give. My hope, My dreams and my love. Always my love. You meant the world to me. Your ever loving wife, Carol x I would like to say thank you to all Joe's work colleagues and friends who attended his funeral.

Carol Gilson

My step-dad was a really lovely man who meant so much to me. My daughter Cloe did Cancer runs to rise money to help others who were suffering with Cancer and had his name on her t-shirt, so he was with her every step of the way, as he was unable to come to London to watch her due to ill health. My family and I went down to Devon to spend time with my step-dad on his birthday back in September. We had a wonderful time and it was lovely to see him smiling at us all. Joe was a loving caring man who made my family very happy. My mum had truly found her soul mate in Joe and they were so happy together. Even though Joe wasn't my real father, believe me I would have been very proud to have called him dad. You are so sadly missed by all of us. xx

Mandy and your grandchildren, Scott, Daryl, David, Cloe

Hi, I work outside Honiton Baptist Church on Saturdays selling wooden ducks! I am known as Kev the duck. I knew Joe for three years and I can honestly say he was a true gentleman. I would like to give praise to Ben the vicar, as his service was very touching and it must have been hard for him as he was a good friend to Joe. Joe will be greatly missed by me.

Kevin Connaire

I had the pleasure of working with Joe whilst at BB and Morgan Est, we enjoyed and endured some interesting times at 4 o'clock in the morning along side a motorway and at a variety of times late into the night. What Joe gave me I cant measure , he was a very special person and a friend. But what he did give me I cant forget. God bless to you and your family at this very sad time

Aidan Brannan

When I came from London I was a boy who had lost his way. I came from London with nothing but the clothes on my back. Then, after I met Joe Gilson, my grandad, he took me under his wing getting me back on track to success. He provided me with clothes along with my grandmother and Joe was the sort of person who didn't like to see others go without. When I was confused about what I should do he got me on the path to sort me out for the future. He bought me my first set of wheels as a surprise and when he got it for me he turned to me and said: "Now boy I want you to get yourself in gear and finally make something of yourself." Joe was the greatest grandad I ever had. He never gave up on me ever and after a long struggle he finally turned me into a man. All I can say now is rest in peace and I love you grandad


When my mum met Joe, I was a bit of a tear away - no job and up to my eyes in debt. Within two years Joe got me a job and I was out of debt, so to me Joe gave me back my self respect and I have never looked back.He is the best thing to have happened to my mum and me and i love and respect him as my Dad. Miss you so much Joe. Love from Jamie [Step-son in Honiton]

Softly the leaves of memory fall, Gently we gather and treasure them all, Unseen, unheard you will always be near. So missed, so loved so very dear. Love and remembered. By your step-daughter Wendy [from Honiton]

Remembering a wonderful

step-dad on fathers day.

Life is not the same without

you by our side,

But we know that you are always with us.

Greatly missed from

Mandy,Wendy,Jamie and Christine and

all the grandchildren.

Joe Gilson


You taught people to do their jobs properly You taught people to live their lives with pride You always gave,never took You left a whole in my life Neverto be repaired You were my life and my soul mate I miss you every second of every day Death leaves a memory no one can heal Love leaves a memory no one can steal I was so proud to be your wife Loving you always Your loving wife Carol xx

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