Obituaries

David Strong

1953 - 2013

David holding Elizabeth AnneI am very grateful to all those who have helped me write this obituary, especially our children, Tony Smith (many of whose words I have used), Tim Collins, Chris Bush and Mike Bubb. The Thanksgiving Service was a joyous occasion and I was overwhelmed by the number of people there and the support you have all provided.

David was a perfectionist who remembered and recorded information. He was very proud to have achieved accreditation as a chemist, teacher, lay reader and musician. He began by collecting stamps, coins and trains and moved on to churches, organs and bells. Any task that David undertook was completed to the very best of his ability; his youngest son claimed that he was the best teacher of basic bell handling he had ever seen but I run ahead of myself.

David grew up in Solihull and learned to play the piano sufficiently well to be asked to play for the Sunday school by the age of 10. He spent the next fifty years accompanying groups, playing for services and performing. Organ lessons followed and David took his first post as organist at Hall Green for a year before leaving for University. However, it was not until much later that David decided to take grade 8 in both piano and organ and in 2001 he achieved a lifetime ambition of gaining his Associateship of the Royal College of Organists.

Cycling was an important part of David’s life; enabling him to play for services as far away as Stratford and, together with school friend and fellow organist Carl Attwood, to tour the south west collecting organs.

I met David on the first Sunday at Keele in the parish church and the rest, they say, is history. We had four happy years at Keele University where David was organ scholar and accompanied the Choral Society, even playing the triangle in the university orchestra! The nearest either of us came to bells in those days was the tubular bells used in Noyes Fludde. Having had a lot of fun we left Keele in 1975 as fully fledged teachers and got married.

A teaching post at Hardye’s Grammar school took us to Dorchester and we wanted a new hobby (that David wasn’t already better than me at!), so we started to learn to ring. The bells at St Peter’s, Dorchester were very forgiving and easy to ring. We made rapid progress with the easier methods because we could manipulate the numbers sufficiently to know who to follow. As a result of the frustration of this method of learning, David became less enthusiastic and gave up in May 1976 when he was asked to be the church organist and choirmaster. Fortunately five months later, thanks to a chance encounter with Richard Thompson, he made a comeback and never looked back. David’s ringing quickly advanced under the guidance of Tim Collins of Charminster who called his first 20 peals. Every Wednesday evening David would travel in the back of Tim’s van learning the method for the quarter they were ringing that evening. In 1983 David was one of the founder members of the Dorset County Association and the Association’s first Chairman. He also became a keen ‘tower grabber’ and was even known to go on three-bell ringing outings. We were both interested in researching our family histories and the children were surprised by how many holidays involved finding family names on gravestones.

In 1985 David became Head of Chemistry at Westonbirt School for Girls and we moved to Sherston. We were welcomed into the band at Sherston and, in due course, David became tower captain. Our four children all learned to ring here and they encouraged friends to learn so we had a thriving band and won District striking competitions. Tower outings included week-ends based at Street, Minehead and Lulworth Youth Hostels and often resulted in complaints from the children that the adults were too noisy and they couldn’t get to sleep! David’s determination to encourage learning is shown by his first peal as conductor which was at Sherston and included four first pealers.

David was fully involved in the Chippenham Branch of the Gloucester and Bristol Diocesan Association, holding every major post and serving as Central Council representative for nine years. It was during this time that he successfully proposed the affiliation of the Dorset County Association. David also organised training events in the Guild and enjoyed leading sessions on the Hereford Course.

I moved to Guernsey in 2001 and David followed me a year later. The children were old enough so we flew the nest! David was a valued member of the Vale band and also Organist and Choirmaster, writing several motets for the choir to perform. David ran innovative evening classes in bell ringing at the Guernsey College of Further Education (which also provided an opportunity for a number of ringers to learn how to teach handling) and served at District and Guild level in the Winchester and Portsmouth Diocesan Guild. He was Channel Island District Newsletter Editor (editing the long-running Les Cloche des Iles) and District Ringing Master. In 2005 David ensured the success of the Channel Islands Festival which was arranged to coincide with the Guild AGM in Guernsey. David became the first Guild Vice-Master in 2006. A year later he was elected Master and served two three-year terms. It was work which he found both demanding and fulfilling. He also served a further three-year term as Central Council Representative and on both the Central Council and the Guild Education Committees.

In 2008 David and I moved back to the mainland, settling in Lockerley where we joined the Lockerley and East Tytherley band, and in due course David became Tower Captain. Following the restoration at West Tytherley, David was instrumental in training a completely new band there.

David rang his first peal at Charminster in 1979 and his last, his 159th, at Bishopstoke in 2011, the only peal Tony Smith rang with him. Perhaps unsurprisingly for someone who took such a great interest in encouraging and advancing other ringers, David rang over 1,000 quarter-peals and was an inspiration to many. Tony also rang in David’s last quarter peal at Hursley in August, to welcome our granddaughter, Elizabeth Anne, and to enable David to conduct his first touch of Cinques and complete quarter peals as conductor on all stages from Singles to Maximus. David found this totally exhausting but felt humbled by the support of the band which enabled him to achieve it.

David put a tremendous effort into his Guild Mastership, doing all he could to ensure the smooth running of the Guild. It was his idea that special ringing for the Diamond Jubilee should be collated and sent to HM the Queen; he took on himself the responsibility of seeing this through and received a letter of thanks from the Palace. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the “Future of Ringing” initiatives and arranged for an ITTS Module One Course to be held at the Bishopstoke Ringing Centre. During this last year, when David was fighting his illness, he nevertheless continued to chair the Guild Executive Committee meetings and the AGM on Jersey, and did all he could to facilitate the transition to a new team of Guild officers. Many of us are deeply aware of the debt we owe David and this was recognised by the many performances rung this autumn as a tribute to his time as Master.

Tony would like to summarise David’s ringing career in three words: ability, David was an accomplished ringer, organist, teacher, and leader; achievement, David rang many methods, peals and quarter peals and trained and encouraged many ringers; and perhaps most significantly service, David was always ready and willing to use his skills in the service of others. Our lives have been enriched by knowing David and we will miss him.

ANNE STRONG


Tribute read at the Winchester & Portsmouth D.G.Executive Committee Meeting on 16th November 2013

We are very sorry to report that our Guild’s former Master, David Strong, passed away peacefully on Friday 15th November. David’s condition had deteriorated very quickly in the last week.

It was all credit to David that he made the journey to the Channel Islands in July for the AGM. It was wonderful to have him there with us. His sterling work for our Guild, his encouragement to all members and his wisdom were acknowledged on his retirement as Master in Jersey. He was given a well-deserved standing ovation.

There has been special ringing across the Guild recently as a thank-you compliment to David for his work as Guild Master. He was able to look through the lovely folder that records the ringing and the ringers when Christine Hill visited him earlier this week. This special ringing has supported Anne and the family, as well.

David never complained about his illness but had borne it with great fortitude and dignity. He continued to work for the benefit of ringers and ringing up to the last. As recently as 2nd November, he wrote Viv a long letter including his offer of “... any support I can give you before the Executive Committee Meeting”.

David has touched the lives of many ringers over the years. We will all have our own precious memories of him to cherish. He will be sorely missed but his guiding influence and lovely smile will stay with us.

Anne will be advising us of the funeral arrangements in due course. Meanwhile, please join us in supporting David’s family.

We send Anne and her family our sincere condolences.

May David rest in peace.

VIV NOBBS, CHRISTINE HILL, MO ROUTH and MIKE BUBB


David came to Guernsey in early 2002 to join Anne who in the previous year had taken the position of head of maths at La Mare de Carteret school. David had stayed behind in the UK while their youngest completed A levels.

Anne was already worshipping at Vale and ringing with us so it was natural that David joined us. He soon became an integral part of the band imparting his vast knowledge to us and moving us forward.

At the same time he was appointed organist and choirmaster of the Vale and split his time on a Sunday between ringing and playing. He retired as organist in June 2007. His legacy to the choir were numerous settings of “unison” hymn tunes converted to four-part harmony together with a setting of the Sanctus and Benedictus which we still use during the parish Eucharist.

In all he rang 127 quarter peals at Vale and one peal. One of his last quarters at Vale enabled David to circled the tower 20 times. He also rang many quarter peals at the other island towers.

MICHAEL BUBB
Tower Captain, Vale, Guernsey

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