Obituaries

David John White

1945 - 2011

David was born and lived all his life in the Swindon area. In his late teens he had been very involved with the youth group at St Mary’s, Rodbourne Cheney, organising walks, meals out and other activities. This is when David and his brother Bob learnt to ring under the watchful eye of Bert Kynaston and Frank Broughton. David always went on the ringing outings, providing much amusement by his various modes of transportation; there was the motor bike and side car that came with its own unique form of heating, the Standard Vanguard that mysteriously left the road on one occasion, and the bubble car – a Messerschmitt – that was at times known to have held four keen ringers!

Following a technical apprenticeship at Radio Rentals, in 1967 David took up a job at The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the Microelectronics Design Group. On a campus filled with experts he was an expert in his own right and was a respected member of the technical and scientific community until his early retirement in 2000.

Following their marriage in 1971, David and Jenny continued to live in David’s Highworth home and ran a youth club at nearby St Philip’s church in Swindon. Activities arranged by David for the club included climbing, walking, and an early passion of his – caving.

In 1976 they moved to Haydon Wick with their 18 month old daughter Rachel. This happily brought them back to St Mary’s Church, In 1978 David took over as tower captain there and only handed over the position when he began his Open University course in 1985. During these years, along with many other recruits, David taught Rachel to ring. He spliced together a “tail extension” which he could attach to the tail end; this was especially useful on the many tower outings she went on as he could not rely on adequate boxes being available in the towers!

David was always a reliable and regular Sunday ringer at St Mary’s. He was also meticulous in the maintenance of the bell tower and was very much responsible for Rodbourne winning the Best Kept Tower competition in 1982 and 1983. It was after this success that he was co-opted on to the judging panel for future competitions.

Following an enforced and prolonged silencing of the bells, David recently worked hard establishing a new band at St Mary’s and was still teaching learners even after his illness was diagnosed. It is a tribute to David’s efforts that St Mary’s rings regularly on Sundays again.

David’s involvement with St Mary’s went far beyond his efforts in the bell tower. For many years he was a member of the PCC and the fabric committee. He spent thousands of hours at the church dealing with the electrics, the roof, the boiler, the flooring - the list
is endless.

It was his ability to solve problems that was so useful across all aspects of David’s life – work, home and church. Jenny would testify to this as David built the platform that lifted her wheelchair, providing her access to the bungalow. However, David was the first to admit that it had never been completed (there was always so much else to do!); as long as it functioned adequately David was satisfied.

Peal ringing for David was constrained by his loving care of his wife but he was a first-rate ringer and was a safe man to have in a band. He was sometimes unduly modest about ringing advanced methods because his quest for perfection wouldn’t allow himself to make even the smallest error. He had had no need to worry; he was up there with the best. His first peal recorded was in 1981, of Cambridge Surprise Minor. Although never completing the standard eight David rang 33 Surprise Major peals, many of these new methods. He also rang peals of royal, triples, minor and doubles, in all a total of 85. Sadly by 2008 David no longer had the strength to continue peal ringing.

The two most important strands to David’s life were his family and St Mary’s church. He adored his granddaughter Katy and proudly shared photographs with everyone. It was a real sadness to the family that he was not able to meet his grandson Adam who was born four days after David passed away. David’s final illness showed the world his inner strength and calmness, no doubt a result of his faith that had kept him so close to the church over a lifetime; a quiet and faithful servant.

I’d like to end with a quote from Brian Bladon, who knew David for many years but only really got close to him during his final year: “Visiting David (during his illness) was not a duty; it was a privilege and a pleasure”.

DEB VINING

BB BellBoard
CC
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers