Obituaries

Roy Pankhurst

1930 - 2013

Roy was born in Maidstone on 23rd September 1930, the first of three sons. Whilst he was still a baby his father, who was a professional gardener, took up a position as head gardener in Stone Street near Sevenoaks. Roy grew up there, attending first the local church primary school and then moved to Lady Boswells in Sevenoaks until his 14th birthday. He never moved far from Stone Street, and his love of the countryside that he grew up in was tangible through his activities and those he encouraged his two daughters Julia and Sharon to participate in.

While he was at school in Stone Street Roy was part of the church choir at St Lawrence, Seal Chart, until his voice broke, at which point he was sent “up the tower” where he learned to ring the bells, and his love of campanology was born. He joined the KCACR in 1948 and became Captain at Sevenoaks before moving to St Lawrence where he taught a large number of youngsters during his time as captain there, including Sharon. So much time was spent travelling around the Tonbridge District, taking part in various events while Sharon was getting to grips with the finer points of ringing, that Roy became Ringing Master of the District. He only gave up his favourite hobby when climbing the many stairs of the towers became too much for him.

Another hobby of his was fishing – both off the coast at Deal in his younger years and fly fishing in the many lakes and rivers of Great Britain. His only regret was not having caught a salmon during his many years of trying, especially while on family holidays in Scotland and the south west of England. Fishing was another of the hobbies he shared with his family, teaching both Julia and Sharon how to fly fish as well as his wife, Diane. His patience while his daughters were “thrashing the water” beside him, as he put it, was legendary.

On leaving school after a short period as a delivery boy for a shop in Sevenoaks Roy went to work on a local farm – first with the shire horses and then later the market run with the apples up to Covent Garden – a trip he first made completely alone in the London smog on the same day he passed his driving test. Roy left the farm for an apprenticeship as an electrician at Fort Halstead where he met his wife Diane at her cousin’s 21st birthday party. They were married in 1958 and Julia was born in 1966 with Sharon following in 1974. Diane sadly died ahead of time when she was only 53 and left Roy to bring up Sharon (Julia already being 22 by this time).

He then went to work as a car salesman at a local garage, later returning to farming in a sense and set up his own fruit and veg round covering a wide area around Sevenoaks. He stayed in the trade for many years going to work for a local wholesaler which saw a return for Roy to driving up to the markets in London three times a week this time to buy the produce to supply to businesses around the local area. Roy enjoyed his boss’s colourful turn of phrase and often quoted him when enjoying a particularly good meal “it might be ‘spensive but it do eat well” being a phrase the family often heard! When his employer retired Roy returned to the car trade, this time as a wholesale manager for Rover dealerships around the south east.

He embraced changes in modern technology by developing an interest in computers. Having always had an interest in aircraft he loved his flight simulator which he took great delight in demonstrating to Julia’s two stepsons Joshua and Nathan, though was a little less sure of their delight in heading straight for and crashing into the air traffic control tower. Roy was very proud of his family, delighting in the many family dinners and occasions, especially the grandchildren’s birthdays and Christmas when the whole family would get together.

In earlier years, while gathered with friends after bellringing in pubs around the Tonbridge District, many a joking conversation was had about the various designs of zimmer frames, and the ideal design of the “go-faster” zimmer. Roy’s solution in the end, having never found a zimmer frame to his liking, was a “scooter” as he put it, on which he delighted giving rides to his grandchildren, Jessica and Daniel. The corridors of Hollybush Court, where Roy moved in his final year, often echoed with their shrieks of delight ... and his chuckles.

He will be remembered.

JULIA and SHARON

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CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers