W. C. (Cecil) Poole
13.9.1903 - 23.2.2009
With the passing of Cecil Poole at the grand age of 105, the Salisbury Diocesan Guild of Ringers has lost its most senior and longest serving member, having started his ringing career on the 19th September 1920. It was the day of Beaminster Fair when Cecil met up with the then tower captain, Frank Bugler, who introduced him to the tower. A year later he joined the SDGR and remained a faithful member right up until his passing – a total of 88 years’ membership, and an Honorary Life Member since 1981.
Cecil, who lived his entire life in the town, rang regularly at St Mary’s for 60 years until the numerous steps to the ringing chamber proved too much for him, but he continued with hand-bell ringing, teaching young folk and giving concerts as a result well into his 80s.
Ringing was Cecil’s foremost interest in life and ringing runs through his family. Grandfather Samuel was ringing in 1836 and taught the skill to his sons, Jim, Henry and Charlie, and three grandsons Fred, Jim and Cecil. In turn, Cecil passed this knowledge on to his cousins and eldest grandson.
Cecil had an incredible memory and so had no problem in recalling the highlights and the many fascinating incidents throughout his long life. His exploits were many and, almost up until his passing, would re-tell fascinating and often humourous stories of his early life as a ringer, and name many fellow ringers he rang with, including those who were responsible for setting up the West Dorset Branch in 1910. He remembered travelling to neighbouring towers in the early 1920s by pony and trap for practice, and his first visits to surrounding towers by early motor car over what was then extremely rough and unmarked roads. Although not connected with ringing Cecil would fondly recall seeing the first motor vehicle to appear in Beaminster in 1909 and the interest it caused to himself and his young playmates; also of the local doctor carrying out amputations on a kitchen table in a cottage in the town.
Cecil’s other great interest in life was sport of any description, with the exception of cricket, and winning a score of medals for his football skills. Also he was a special constable for 25 years, was in the police war reserve with 75 specials under his supervision, served on the town council for 25 years, was a scout troop leader, a chorister, a Mason and connected with most aspects of local life.
Cecil could trace his ancestry in Beaminster back to 1685 when a Simon Poole from that town and 18 others were sold into slavery and shipped to Barbados after judge Jeffreys found them guilty during the Monmouth Rebellion. The ship transporting them hit stormy weather, flooding the hold where Simon and 12 others, still chained, were drowned.
Cecil’s grandfather was a ‘planker’, sawing planks from trees, and operated from a now demolished mill in Town Square. Cecil took over his father’s building and decorating business in 1932 and became a sign-writer as well.
With the exception of one or two brief visits to hospital in his final years, Cecil continued living in the bungalow he built himself right up to the last, caring mainly for himself after the passing of his wife. His bungalow, filled with scrap books started by his father, old photographs, memorabilia of all description, medals, cups and the like all testify to an incredibly long and varied life lived to the full.
At the time, Cecil wanted to keep his 100th birthday celebrations quiet – in his words "Just having the family round" – all 22 of them; among them his five great grandchildren and nine great-great grandchildren. Interestingly, Cecil’s family are long living – his uncles lived well into their 90s – and he didn’t drink.
The short and simple funeral service held at his beloved St Mary’s on the 6th March and led by the Revd Symons, was attended by his large family, representatives from various organisations, friends from around the district and officers and members of the Salisbury D.G. The 10 bells were rung half-muffled before the service and again afterwards during the burial in the old churchyard at the grave of his beloved wife of 68 years.
Cecil was an amazing and highly respected character who lived his life in true Christian fashion. May he rest in peace.