I have agonised for a long time over when and how to write this. I was going to do a ‘professional’ profile of Mike Scott, but it’s so difficult for me to separate that from the wonderful person that was my dad, so to try and write a tribute to him purely as the Managing Director of Y F Furniture was just too impersonal for me. Therefore, I decided to mix the two together and try to give everyone an insight into the many layers of Mike Scott. I know he would like that, and I hope that you all enjoy hearing more about him. It is still gut-wrenchingly difficult to grasp that he is gone, so if I ramble a bit, please forgive me. It is still early days.
My dad was the most amazing man I have ever known. They say that a girl’s first love is her daddy, and that was certainly true in my case. He was such a hands-on dad, playful and fun. My favourite memories from my childhood are our family holidays, when Dad would completely relax, leave behind the pressures of work, and spend his days playing with me and my sister, Kirsty, BBQ-ing and walking the dog. I was always an early riser and remember spending many an early morning walking the dog on the cliff-tops at Filey Brigg, hand-in-hand with my dad and not a care in the world. He even did my ponytail for me as Mum was still in bed, and I used to tell him off for getting it wrong!
As I grew up, he was so protective and looked after all his girls (my mum, my sister Kirsty, and me) so well. He taught me to drive, he bought me my first car and made sure it was always in tip-top condition, and he would drop me off and pick me up from any party or night out I went on. Even to the extent of setting an alarm for 2am to come and pick me up from the Frontier in Batley on a Friday night/Saturday morning!
He was a perfect husband to my mum. He was such a gentleman and treated her with such respect and love that my standards were set very high for relationships! (Luckily, Adam does measure up in case you are wondering!) He carried her drink to the table in restaurants, held open doors for her, and never let her walk on the outside when strolling down the street. They argued like all couples, do not misunderstand me, but they always carried on afterwards as if not a cross word had been said. And they genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and were true best friends. Our family life and mine and Kirsty’s childhood were idyllic due to the incredible amount of love and happiness in our house.
When Adam and I first started going out, Dad welcomed him wholeheartedly and made him feel like one of the family. When Adam tired of the engineering industry, Dad gave him a chance and trained him up as the Sales Executive at YF. When I left university, I too joined the team, and, although working with family obviously had its difficulties, we made it work, and Adam and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunities we have. We try our best today to run the company as Dad would have wanted, and know him so well that we can imagine exactly what he would say about every decision we make!
When Adam and I got married, Dad said he wasn’t ‘giving me away’ but that rather he would have to ‘share’ me. He was a brilliant grandad when our little ones came along, and loved to cuddle and play with them. He made them laugh with his cheeky renditions of Chinese Whispers (which almost always seemed to evolve to contain the word ‘fart!) and gave the most amazing big Grandad squeezes.
He had a wide circle of friends who all adored him. Many people would ask him for advice or help on a daily basis as he knew so much about everything, and if he didn’t know, he always knew someone who did! He was generous to a fault, always willing to help in any way he could, and in a social situation he was great fun and always the last one standing!
So, I have covered Mike the father, Mike the husband, Mike the father-in-law, Mike the grandad and Mike the friend. Last but not least, Mike the business man. While obviously not the main part of what made Mike Scott the person he was as far as his family were concerned, Y F Furniture played a massive role in his life and he was the lifeblood of YF for a very long time. From buying the company in 1981, Mike was passionate about YF. He was so involved in everything, from meeting customers and discussing new designs, to sharing a coffee and a sandwich with suppliers on a Friday morning and urging them to ‘sharpen their pencil’, to the minutiae of where to purchase nuts and bolts and how to organise the factory. He built up our reputation as an honest, hard-working, reliable and highly capable family firm, and made the company what it is today. I remember as a child coming to visit him at work, seeing him in his white over-coat happily working away alongside the factory lads. Most of all, I remember working with him myself and hearing him shout from the next office, “Carly, why are my Excel files not working? Carly, come and write this email for me!” I wish to God he was still here doing that today as I type. The hardest thing Adam and I have ever had to do at work was clear out his office and change things around for Adam to move in there. But we know it was what he wanted. We only hope that we can continue his legacy and make him proud.
Mike withstood his illness with such incredible bravery and strength that his neighbour, who is a doctor, now uses him as an example to others going through the same thing. He would have chemotherapy one day and be back at work shouting the odds the next! Anyone who asked after his health was always met with the standard ‘Good, thanks, how are you?” He never let on just how ill he felt, and always worked through the pain. His motto, ‘Work it off!’ held true until he could stand it no more. For much of the 3 and a half years since his diagnosis, he actually was remarkably well and managed to live a normal life, travelling, going out with friends, spending time with family and watching the Leeds Rhinos lift countless trophies. But even in those awful final weeks, when he was clearly in a great deal of pain, his wonderful strength of character and his astounding courage and determination enabled him to keep going, and even to make it to our house for one last Christmas dinner 3 days before he passed away.
My dad was an inspiration to me, and to many others around him. I still have not quite got my head round how to carry on without him, but I think that is partly because I feel I don’t have to. There are constant reminders of him every day, and I hear his voice and sense his presence in everything I do. My heart is broken that I will never see him again in this lifetime, but I know without a doubt that he is my guardian angel and will always be watching over me and guiding me.
Here at YF, life will never be the same. But every day we try with all our might to continue the legacy of hard work and passion that Mike left behind, and we think he would approve of how things are going so far. I hope you all agree! And I hope that you will join me in raising a glass next time you are out, and toast the wonderful man that was Mike Scott. My dad. My hero.
by Carly Birkett (nee Scott)
15 March 2017