Two cultures came together to show their love and respect for the recently departed Neil Cameron. The family and friends of Neil’s partner Thung joined the Buriram European community to bid a fond farewell to a brave and caring man.
They gathered at Thung and Neil’s home in Ban Kokdan where monks offered prayers before refreshments were provided for the monks and the mourners. The stunning flowers that had been given were a fitting testimony to the affection that Neil had generated in his time in Buriram.
Neil was brought out in the ceremonial casket for his final journey to the local temple. The procession of cars and motorcycles then made its way slowly to the temple for the final rites and cremation.
The traditional Buddhist prayers were provided by the monks who also received offerings from all those present. The Thais seemed to enjoy the laboured attempts at kneeling and getting up by some of the Europeans !
A lengthy eulogy was given by the head man of the village and I was informed that he had many kind words to say about Neil. They were impressed with the care and devotion Neil showed to Thung and her family and how he had fitted in so well to the community.
Peter Dempsey also shared some heartwarming thoughts about Neil which summed up what everyone felt about him. An all-round good, brave guy.
The mourners then filed past the coffin to say a final goodbye before the cremation.
We must not forget Neil’s family back in England . His mother Daphne, daughter Alison and countless friends who were unable to travel to Thailand, are all feeling a deep sense of loss but are also happy that Neil’s suffering is finally at an end.
When someone dies in a foreign country, there are numerous complications and on behalf of Neil’s family in both England and Thailand , I would like to thank Martyn Hughes and in particular Peter Pritchard without whose help and selflessness, Neil’s dignified departure would not have been possible.
Neil Cameron (October 28 , 1957 to May 13 , 2016 )
Neil was born in Glasgow but moved to Darlington in the north-east of England at an early age. However, he never forgot his roots and he was fiercely proud of his Scottish heritage , despite his north-east accent.
Neil worked for many years as an electrician for British Rail in both Darlington and Thornaby which were important railway towns. He was obviously good at his job and was extremely knowledgeable, as even a lay-man like me could tell. It is also very evident from the numerous comments from former colleagues on Facebook.
Neil was also happy to help people whenever he could and it appears he was a popular ‘handyman” from the number of people who said his skills would be missed. Shortly, after arriving in Buriram, Neil decided to build Thung’s chickens some ” luxury” accommodation. A couple of days later he appeared at the local bar sporting a cut on the top of his head, the result of not ducking low enough. A few more days passed and he appeared with another one, same reason and we began to kind of look forward to seeing him, just to see what the damage was going to be. Fotunately just one more cut ensued and the chickens had their dream home.
He also became a keen supporter of Buriram United, and joined the large number of Europeans who were season ticket holders. However, like me with Middlesbrough, his heart was really at Ibrox Park and it was fitting that Neil saw his beloved Rangers regain their place in the Scottish Premiership .
Obviously, most people know that Neil had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer about four years ago. Sadly, I’ve known a few people in a similar situation and different people handle it in different ways. Neil showed a rather unique approach as he would inform people who he met for the first time very early on. After the initial shock, it took away any awkwardness that would have been present, showing that he was happy to talk about his illness and that life went on. There was no feeling that you were treading on egg-shells.
Throughout all his time here, he never complained , even during times when he was in obvious pain. Humour was never far away with Neil and he could see the funnyside when he was nicknamed Lazarus. For those not familiar with the name , according to the Bible, Lazarus was brought back from the dead by Jesus.
A while back, Neil was suffering and he decided to go back to England. He was convinced he wouldn’t be returning and asked me to sell his golf clubs. Which I did. After tearful goodbyes , Neil left for England, only to return two weeks later, complete with a new set of golf clubs which were put to good use .
However, there was more to come. Normally, on Chritmas Day we all have Christmas lunch together. Last Christmas for various reasons we ended up in two different bars. My girlfriend and I were with Neil and Thung in the Bamboo Bar and I could see Neil was not feeling great. He got worse and worse and he looked more ill than anyone I had seen in my life. Thung took him to hospital and I informed the others that Neil was ill and to fear the worst. Two hours later, I couldn’t believe my eyes when Mr Cameron walked back in the bar with a ,”Where’s my beer gone ?” Apparently he had been dehydrated and half an hour on a drip sorted him out. Hence the ” Lazarus” !!
Neil was a keen golfer and could usually be found practising on the driving range most days until the last few months. He was asked to be the first Captain of the newly formed Buriram Golf Society which he accepted and took his role seriously. Naturally, in any organization things crop up which require debate and discussion. These tended to be very brief when Neil was involved ! He was never slow to give an opinion which he always backed with total conviction. There was one occasion when he admitted to being wrong but sadly no-one recorded it! However ,there was never any malice, you couldn’t fall out with Neil and it became one of his endearing qualities.
Neil lived in Buriram for nearly three years and all of his close friends sincerely believe that by doing so he extended his life. He often said how lucky he was to be here and to have such a wonderful partner in Thung and he was so right. He lived his life his way and did everything humanly possible to live each day to the full. I think everyone has learned from him and this courageous, honourable man will be sorely missed by all who knew him. RIP Neil Cameron