1950 – 2014

Richard Turner (1950-2014)Richard was born on 19th April 1950 to Elaine and Ernest Turner and was brought up in Eyam Rectory. Richard’s parents had a strong influence on his early life – they encouraged him to think of others – to show care and compassion and to form strong relationships with whomever he met. Early friendships were made at Eyam School and Richard then went onto Birkdale School in Sheffield, before heading to Brighton College. It was here that he formed many lifelong friendships and was encouraged to develop his musical talent. He learned to play the organ, played duets and sang in the chapel choir.

His long association with the North East began when he studied French at Grey College in Durham. Richard’s capacity for making friends (and his generosity with the coffee) meant that his room in Grey College became a communal meeting space, even if this often involved getting Richard out of bed! His love for the North East was profound – and resulted in him spending the rest of his teaching career there in different educational institutions.

In adult life Richard’s own educational philosophy recognised the transformative effects which education in its very broadest sense can have for young people. Through education he sought to make a difference to young people’s lives. He was an outstanding teacher – firstly as a languages teacher and more recently as a teacher for young people with different education needs. He ran trips to Poland, France and Germany which were life changing experiences for many young people, some of whom had never been further away than Hartlepool – they came back with their eyes opened up to a whole new world and were always massively thankful to Richard for taking them on what was a trip of a lifetime.

Richard’s skill as an educator was also in evidence in his approach to ringing bells. Many ringers work hard to welcome people into ringing and train ringers, but Richard did this par excellence. Scores of ringers owe their advancement and interest in ringing to Richard who was a teacher of genius. He embodied the spirit of ringing – an activity which calls for real teamwork and fellowship. He worked very hard in the D&N with endless enthusiasm for ringing in Hartlepool, the Southern District (serving two terms as Chairman), as Education Officer and as President.

So many ringers have recollected the wonderful ringing trips which Richard arranged. The Tideswell trips are legendary – lots of ringing, food and good company. No longer taking a major role in their organisation, Richard was still able to join ringers on their annual visit to Derbyshire in August 2014 and enjoyed the few days he spent with them. Only days before he died Richard was making plans for ringing at Christmas and was enjoying Friday evenings ringing and socialising afterwards. Friends will also remember Richard’s passion for trains and trams and disused railways. Many a ringing trip would be disrupted by sudden diversions to view old stations and rail routes!

Richard was an excellent musician and drew together scratch choirs which he conducted to perform great works with professional organists and singers. He introduced singers to new works and gave them confidence to perform. Many of these performances were organised to raise money for bell restoration funds. At his funeral, he would have been be pleased that close friends assembled a choir and delighted that organists performed some of his favourite works.
Richard’s cars were legendary. Richard would never buy a car unless it had covered at least a 100,000 miles – his argument being that with that mileage all the problems should have been sorted out!

Contacting Richard was not always easy – long detours were made to telephone boxes for him to ring friends. His purchase of a mobile phone was quite revolutionary and ensured that contact could be maintained. Reception in Tideswell however was not that good, and friends and family can remember Richard going outside to stand beside the public conveniences so that a good line could be achieved. How he managed to organise so much ringing is a miracle!

Despite many disabilities Richard lived life to the full. His sudden death came as a shock to us all, not least since he was settling into his cottage and steadily improving in health. He leaves a big hole in all our hearts – ringing will not be the same without him.

Taken from the funeral tribute by Richard’s brother-in-law Peter Harnett.


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