3rd February 1939 - 24th November 2011

Dennis playing the organ on a ringers’ outing in 2011With the passing of Dennis Elliott on 24th November 2011, the village of Hurstpierpoint lost one of its most gifted and popular residents. Dennis excelled in a number of fields, any one of which could fill the space allocated to this tribute. It is therefore only possible to give but a brief outline in this obituary, but this in no way belittles his many achievements.

Dennis was born in Stratford Mortimer, Berkshire on 3rd February 1939. During his formative years, during which he attended Forest Grammar school, he joined a number of church activities including the choir and ringing with his family on the eight bells. He became a member of the Scout troop (eventually becoming a Queen’s Scout), learned the piano, and taught himself to play the church organ, a pleasure which remained with him for the rest of his life. At this time also, he learned to play the cornet in the local Brass Band, and progressed in a number of bands before being called up. He joined the RAF and was posted to RAF Locking at Weston Super Mare, where in addition to his camp duties, he joined the RAF Military Band. Such was his ability that later in his musical career he played in the National Brass Band Area finals at The Royal Albert Hall with the Tadley Silver Band – and won!

On demob. from the RAF, Dennis rejoined the Trustee Savings Bank in Reading, and rose through the ranks to senior management. He showed a particular interest and aptitude in computers and when given the opportunity, he transferred to the developing IT section. He was promoted to a position in Crawley, and moved to Gossops Green. Whilst here, he continued with his musical interests, becoming a local organist and choirmaster for several years, (there being no bells in this church) and became the Musical Director of the Horsham Brass Band. Such was his commitment and enthusiasm that his wife Heather was heard to say (much later) “I’m fed up with the three Bs! Banking, Bellringing, and Bl…y Brass Bands!

In 1986, Dennis was promoted to head the new Computer Department at LloydsTSB in Brighton, and moved to Hurstpierpoint. He entered into village life with his usual enthusiasm, playing the organ for church services when required, helping with handbell ringing in the village, and accompanying and conducting several singing groups particularly at Christmas time. He became Treasurer of the Girl Guides for many years, and it was a particularly proud moment for him when he was presented with a County award for outstanding service a few weeks before his death.

He soon joined the local ringing band, steadily progressing to ring most methods up to and including Cambridge, and to develop a love of Stedman which he enjoyed calling. He helped to organise the annual Hurst Outing which became a firm village favourite, and took over this task in 2002 until earlier this year. He also became Deputy Tower Captain, and then Captain, a position which he held until his death. Dennis loved good striking, and would not tolerate sloppy ringing. He taught a number of new ringers recently, and they are progressing well – a credit to his memory.

Dennis was also a trains fanatic. He had model trains everywhere! He had a full size layout in his garage, for which he used another of his talents, model making, in creating a scale model of the old Mortimer station, and he mounted his collection of trains each in its own showcase.

But multi-talented as he was, Dennis was much more than this. He was first and foremost a family man. He was married to Heather for nearly 45 years, and had two children, and two grandchildren on whom he doted. His world fell apart when he lost firstly his daughter Sue, and then Heather both with cancer. It says so much for his faith that he was able to carry on so fully, and be such an inspiration to us all. Then, on top of this, he learned some two years ago that he too had abdominal cancer. In true Dennis fashion, he accepted the inevitable, continuing with his life as normal, and extending the prognosis by over a year. It was whilst on holiday with his cousins, Wendy and Chris Johnson that he became very ill, and was taken into the Royal Berkshire Hospital. He was transferred to the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, and eventually to the local hospitals here. He died peacefully in his sleep at the St Peter and St James Hospice, Wivelsfield.

Dennis was a warm and wonderful friend to many, myself in particular. We spent many happy hours together, and he helped me more than I can say in so many ways. Our sympathies go to Andy, Lisa, Lewis and Jamie, and to other members of his family.

May he rest in peace, and rise in Glory.


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Central Council of Church Bell Ringers