Obituaries

David Christophers

1st October 1942 – 5th February 2012

David Christophers died on Snowdrop Sunday after a short illness; he had been so brave during the 20 weeks from diagnosis to his untimely death at the age of 69. His funeral was on 16th February at St Mary the Virgin Church at Piddlehinton, Dorset, where he had previously been Tower Captain, Churchwarden and Organist for many years. The day was cold but bright and sunny; inside the church every windowsill was filled with candles, and vases of snowdrops picked from the churchyard – leaving still many more growing outside.

He had planned his own funeral, even choosing the pallbearers, clergy and timing of the services. He had been a member of the Dorchester Choral Society; the choir sang "Thou knowest Lord" (Henry Purcell) at the beginning, and "God be in my Head" at the end of the service. He also chose hymns which reminded him of his days as a choirboy, and from his wedding day which he wrote was a "reminder of my happiest day". David was such a modest man that his wife Suzanne wanted to give a eulogy to voice his accomplishments and attributes. She reminded us just what a gentle and quiet man he had been; he was also elegant, steadfast, honourable, kind and fair-minded, with a cheerful and reassuringly optimistic disposition. He had been a mentor to her and their beloved children. His interests were cricket, bell ringing, green bowling, his allotment and walking by the sea or in the countryside with Lucy the dog. Although his greatest love was music – both singing with choirs and playing the piano and organ – he was never more happy than when he was with his family. Suzanne wanted to honour him and give thanks for his life; he would have been so proud of her courage and strength on such an emotional day. It was heart-wrenching and there was not a dry eye in church.

Ashley, their elder son, read out a eulogy on behalf of his uncle, David’s brother Fred. As a youngster David had lived in Bickington, Devon where he had been taught to ring church bells by his father. (He passed the skill on to his own sons, and he, Ashley and Simon had rung together on occasions at St. Mary’s Church, Piddlehinton where he, his wife Suzanne and the family had lived for 33 years). As a child he was very interested in aeroplanes which led him to pursue a career at Filton. He was involved in the design of Concorde, and he and his team of aeronautical engineers were responsible not only for the undercarriage and landing gear but also for the hydraulics of the droop-nose. As a youth he passed his driving test after only six lessons and "courted" Suzanne in a white, soft-top Triumph Spitfire. He was good at sport, playing both football and cricket; the latter ‘gaining him the scalp’ of the notable H. D. ‘Dickie’ Bird. Cricket featured throughout his life; he was a member of the Dorchester Club and umpired for the County. He had constructed (with help from his then girlfriend Suzanne) a Mirror dinghy from a kit which was used by the family thereafter. In 1991, at the age of 49, David decided to leave British Aerospace in Weymouth to become a teacher. He was inspired to change career during his time as a school governor at both the Piddle Valley and Puddletown schools – he wanted "to give something back", which was typical of his altruistic nature. He trained at Exeter University for a year (he already had a degree gained at Bath University) and his placement was at a school in Beaminster. He then worked at Corfe Hills School, Poole teaching higher maths. until his retirement.

Ashley also gave his own eulogy to his father; a short quote is "Dad helped to create a warm, cosy atmosphere conducive to bringing out the natural virtues of his children. Not for us to earn massive riches but to respect others and to enjoy life". Ashley’s tribute was equally as heart-wrenching as his mother’s; it included reminiscences of his, and his brother and sister – their words to describe him are contentment, humility, wisdom, dignity, elegance, and pride in his family. He was their protector, leader, comforter and idol, and had great Faith. They were blessed to have parents who were very much "in love". David’s life evolved around his family, which brought him much happiness and contentment. He was proud to be a granddad, and able to share quality moments with the new generation. He leaves a widow, two sons Ashley and Simon, a daughter Katie, and four grandchildren.

On 23rd February, a week after David’s funeral, a quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles, David’s favourite method, was rung at Piddlehinton in his memory. The Interment of Ashes was on Easter Sunday, which would have been their Ruby Wedding, in Piddlehinton churchyard. He chose his own headstone of smooth, unpolished Purbeck stone.

On 24th August Simon Christophers started a four day walk along 90 miles of the Dorset coastal path to raise money for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity. He was joined for part of the way by three friends and his brother Ashley; their father would be very proud of his sons, who raised £2,500 in his memory.

JANET RANGER
Chairman, Dorchester Branch, SDGR

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CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers