Obituaries

Donald Alfred Smith

Donald a former Tower Captain at St Andrew’s West Tarring Sussex, died on 8th of November 2011 at the age of 84. He had lived on his own since his parents died in the late 1960s, but he was always interested in people, and he had a wicked sense of humour.

Donald learnt to ring in 1949 and was subsequently, tower secretary; when from time to time he sent in snippets of news about the ringers for inclusion in the parish magazine, he was also treasurer for a time. On 6th February 1961 he was elected Tower Captain of Tarring and remained so until he stepped down on 19th January 1970; throughout this period the emphasis had been on good striking.

Donald was born with a club foot, but this did not stop him walking over 2½ miles from home to the tower and then climbing the 49 steps to the ringing room. He undertook this journey several times a week, not only for Service and practice ringing, but also to wind the clock. The weights had to be wound up a distance of nearly fifty feet once a week, the heavier of the two weights being about three hundredweight! Donald was also a sidesman at Tarring Church.

In his younger days Donald would go to Association meetings courtesy of either being given a lift or by using public transport. He was quite well known in the county, and was part of the ringing fraternity that helped to get people on in their ringing careers, for which so many of us today are grateful.

The main reason that Donald retired as Tower Captain was that his work, first as a bank cashier, then as a solicitor’s clerk/cashier, meant that he usually worked late, then caught a bus and arrived at ringing practice straight from work at about eight o’clock without having eaten a meal.

He was extremely interested in old clocks, or in his words, “Antiquarian Horology” and had a fantastic collection of clocks of all sorts of design, size and age. He was a member of the local horologist club, and when he retired from work the members of the club very kindly changed their meeting night, which had been held on Tarring’s practice night, so that he could attend ringing practice as well as the ’clock club’ meetings.

He rang nine peals, but decided that this was not for him; he also rang well over 500 quarter peals and called at least one of them. Upon his retirement Donald found a renewed enthusiasm for ringing and rang 30 quarter peals in the first year and went on a week’s ringing tour of the west of England – indeed he did this for three years in a row.

Gradually Donald had to slow down due to health problems and having had a fall five years ago he broke his hip and, after nearly 60 years of service to the church, regrettably he had to give up ringing. He spent the last four years in a care home in Shoreham, where several of his relations and friends periodically visited him, giving him the opportunity to catch up on news particularly about ringing friends, and allowing him the opportunity to reminisce, which proved a valuable source of information that might otherwise have been lost.

Donald’s funeral took place at Worthing crematorium on Wednesday, 23rd November, when 49 people were present. The service was taken by Revd Edward Jervis, the Rector of West Tarring. Revd Peter Blackman very kindly stepped in at the last minute and played the organ for the two hymns; Praise My Soul the King of Heaven and Abide with me, which were sung meaningfully and with the usual enthusiasm that ringers give.

Rest in peace dear friend.

ROY COX

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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers