Colin was born in Hornchurch in June 1930, the middle of three children. He went to the local infant and junior schools before passing “The Scholarship” enabling him to attend Palmer’s College in Grays. There he concentrated on the sciences and at 18 got a place at Charing Cross Hospital Medical School where he spent the next five years, followed by a period as pre-registration House Officer. His deferred National Service was spent as a Medical Officer, mostly in Hong Kong. On his return he spent periods in Westcliff and Winchester before joining a General Practitioner practice in South Ockendon, close to Hornchurch. Colin served the community in this area for the next thirty years. No trouble was too much in the service of his patients who were devoted to him; regular visits were paid to the aged and many still received help after his official retirement.

While at school Colin was in the choir at a daughter church of St Andrew’s, Hornchurch, and in 1947 responded to an advert in the parish magazine for trainee ringers to augment a struggling band. Thus began a life-long love of ringing, both as a service to the church and a hobby. He was taught initially by a long-serving Hornchurch ringer, Freddie Freestone, and then by Frank Gant who had just taken over the Hornchurch band. Rapid progress was made, including his first peal of Bob Royal in 1950; 12,740 changes, a record length!

Colin also belonged to a group of local younger ringers known as ‘The Freewheelers’. An account of the time records a bicycle tour of several hundred miles in apparently continuous rain, ringing across Southern England. One of the Dagenham Band and fellow Freewheelers was Dorothy Fleetwood. Romance blossomed and Colin and Dulcie married in 1953. Their first child, Janice, was born in 1955, just before Colin’s departure to Hong Kong and two more, Penelope and Timothy, followed after National Service. All in due course became competent ringers at Hornchurch.

On his return to the area Colin re-joined the Hornchurch Band where he remained for the rest of his ringing career, ringing regularly for practice and Sunday services. In 1977 he became Ringing Master at Hornchurch, a post that he held for some five years. His ringing was always reliable and carefully struck, and when ringing his favourite method, Stedman, he could hold together a band that would defeat many a lesser conductor! Professional commitments limited the time that he could devote to peal ringing, but he found time to score a total of 114, many of which he conducted. He regarded his most worthwhile peals as the long length of Bob Royal, 32 Spliced Surprise Major and a ‘fathers and sons’ peal by a Hornchurch service band which he conducted.

Sadly towards the end of his life Colin suffered a long period of ill health. He died on October 5th and his funeral at Upminster Crematorium was packed with family, friends, ringers, medical colleagues and former patients. He was greatly respected and loved by many and will be sorely missed. Our sympathy goes to Dulcie, his children and grandchildren to whom he was devoted.


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers