Brian Hornick

Brian Hornick

11 January 1932
London, United Kingdom
28 September 2023
Bushey, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Words by
Gillian Hornick Daughter

Brian, our Dad, was larger than life. Everybody who knew him will have a story to tell.

He was born in the East End in 1932 to Lily and Ben Hornick, who happened to be first cousins….which explains a lot.

He was a sickly child and the family were advised to move to the seaside to improve his health. They moved to Westcliff, where Dad had many happy memories. He often talked about roller skating along the promenade. Every Sunday, they would go to the bandstand in the park to hear the military bands play. Around this time, his cousin, Ivan, gave him a box of tin soldiers, and so began his love of military history and music and his collection of military figures.

When the war started, they moved back to London, to the upstairs of a shared house in Stamford Hill. The Shaffer family lived downstairs, with two daughters. One of those little girls was Eve, who later became Eve Rosenthal. Dad and Eve went on to have a close friendship until the day he died. The Shaffers moved to Buckinghamshire and the Hornick family moved downstairs. On 16 October 1941, their road was bombed and the house destroyed. The Hornicks only survived because they had made this move downstairs.

a chorister at Hendon for over seventy years until the choir disbanded

Dad, his mother and brother, Neil, were evacuated to South Wales, whilst his father remained in London, drawing maps as part of the war effort. They later returned to London and stayed with a family in Hendon. He had his barmitzvah in Hendon Synagogue in 1945, where he had joined the choir at eight years old. He remained a chorister at Hendon for over seventy years until the choir disbanded.

Dad was also a member of the London Jewish Male Choir for forty years. He travelled the world with them and sang at the Royal Festival Hall. Dad loved singing in both of these choirs and the lifelong friends he made were like family to him. I have wonderful memories as a little girl of being with Dad and his fellow choristers in the choir gallery at Hendon Shul. There was a real sense of camaraderie and fun.

About a year ago, Ellie, my elder daughter, interviewed Dad about his life. He told her that he had the best time of his life at Maccabi.

When he was fifteen years old, his best friend, Leon, encouraged him to go along with him to Maccabi Union Club. It changed Dad’s life. Up until then he was a very shy boy but the club brought him out of himself and he even became Social Secretary.

They had dances on Saturday nights and on one particular night at the Cricklewood Palais when he was seventeen, there was a dance competition. I believe it was the waltz. He asked a young lady who was standing by the wall to partner him. There were over one thousand five hundred people on the floor and, as each pair was tapped on the shoulder, the numbers were whittled down. To Dad’s great surprise, he and his partner, Maureen, won the competition.

He immediately phoned his mother and told her he had met the girl he was going to marry.

They got married on 27 June 1954, when he was twenty two and she was twenty one, and they continued their love of dancing. Mum and Dad were devoted to each other and they were married for fifty five years until our Mum sadly passed away in 2009.

many interesting clients including Hughie Green and Alfred Hitchcock

When Dad left school, he went to work for his uncles, Percy and Ben Phillips, in their accountancy firm. He did not enjoy it but, after trying out a few other jobs, he returned, but switched to bankruptcy work. He really did enjoy insolvency and his confidence grew. He always described himself as the second best insolvency practitioner in England. He did not know who the best was, but kept it open in case someone came along.

He eventually joined a firm called Sorsky’s and became a partner there. He was very happy and worked there until he retired at the age of seventy one. In his career, he had many interesting clients, including Hughie Green and Alfred Hitchcock, who had apparently told Dad that he was going to put him in his next film as an extra. He spent the rest of his life waiting for that call.

Mum and Dad tried to have a family unsuccessfully for eight years. Eventually, they registered with the National Adoption Society. One day, they received a letter to say that the Adoption Society had a beautiful baby boy called Philip. They could not believe it. It was a day he would never forget and he told Ellie in her interview that it was the best day of his life.

Two years later, they applied to adopt a girl, but miraculously my Mum became pregnant with me. Our family was complete.

a lifelong avid collector

In 1964, they moved to Charlton Road in Kenton, where Dad lived for fifty years. Charlton Road was not just our happy family home but it was also a museum. Dad was a lifelong avid collector. At one time, he had the largest collection of model soldiers in the UK, over one hundred thousand. He gave many public displays and exhibitions and was even a guest artist on the Basil Brush Show. He was also the secretary of the British Model Soldier Society.

He later went on to collect model aeroplanes (over two hundred) and over four hundred model cars. He also collected models of musical instruments, which he recently donated to Bushey House Care Home, where he stayed in June for respite care.

The collections did not stop there. He had about five hundred original historic newspapers and thousands of DVDs, CDs and cassettes.

As well as collecting and singing, Dad’s other passion was cricket. He played cricket for Maccabi, and with Philip and me on the beach. But his favourite pastime was to watch cricket, either at Lord’s with my husband, David, or on television from his armchair.

Five years after Mummy died, the house was becoming too much for him and he moved into Cecil Rosen Court in Bushey Heath, where he lived very happily for nearly ten years, although he did, on occasions, refer to it as “Cell Block H”!

generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness

As many of you know, our Dad always had a mischievous sense of humour. Many of you over the years will doubtless have received an envelope addressed with Dymo tape. I’ll say no more.

Anyone who knew our Dad would also know that he loved giving, and making people happy, more than anything else in the world, and this was never more evident than when he was in Cecil Rosen Court. Soon after he moved there, he gave all the ladies flowers, anonymously, for both Yomtov and Valentine’s Day. Dad ran a weekly quiz, staying up late the night before writing the questions, all without the use of Google. He gave prizes to both winners and losers.

One only had to mention that one needed or was interested in something and our Dad would set off on a mission to find it. And he always succeeded.

His generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness knew no bounds throughout his life and that is how we will always remember him.

He was a wonderful husband, father, grandpa and friend and he will leave a gaping hole in all our lives.