20th September 1932 – 7th January 2012

David Kingston was born on 20th September, 1932. He trained as an actuary, working for a long time at Sun Life’s offices in Borough High Street, before becoming freelance in his late 50s.

He learned to ring at Hornsey in Middlesex – a tower with a ring of six bells left orphaned after the church was pulled down. He was Tower Captain there when the bells were finally condemned and taken out of the church, recast and sent elsewhere. He would tell the story about how they were ringing there one evening when the gudgeon of the 4th broke, and that was it, they were never to ring there again.

He joined the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1951 in a belfry election before a peal of Cambridge Major at Holloway. He admittedly had very little to do with the Society in the decades after that, and soon moved to Bishops Stortford. In 1969 he moved to Bromley and joined the local band at the Parish church, the Society of Bromley Youths, which at that time was led by Percy Spice. David became Treasurer in 1976, Deputy Tower Captain in 1979 and then became Captain in 1983, which was a position he held ever since. In that time he has been responsible for training dozens of ringers at Bromley, and when a new ring of bells was put into the Bromley suburban church of Bickley, he was responsible for training the band there too.

Fifty years after joining the College Youths, he rang his second peal for the Society at St Ebbe’s, Oxford, and attended his first dinner that year when he took wine with the Master to celebrate his half-century membership. This started his new relationship with the Society, and he would be an occasional visitor to the Society practice when his own band at Bromley Parish Church were not practising. He had great delight in practising Stedman Cinques and went on to attend every ASCY dinner ever since. He was also a regular attender at Beckenham on a Thursday night, and involved himself in the ringing and the social activities there. He was very interested in turning his actuarial mind to the mathematics behind change ringing, and he even went as far as producing a peal proving program that he wrote himself in Microsoft Excel.

Aside from ringing, David was very active in Bromley Parish Church and was a member of the “Men’s Group” that would immerse themselves in all sorts of activities connected with the church and outside. He loved rambling, and would often be out on long walks with various walking clubs. He felt frustration when many footpaths were closed through the foot and mouth disease. He was a remarkably fit man, and he only returned a few months ago from a demanding cycling holiday in Vietnam (at the age of 79!). He was also a talented musician, an accomplished pianist and was treasurer of the Ripley Recital Club.

David’s last peal was in 2007: Bristol Major conducted by Phil Rogers, at Bromley Parish Church. A few years after that he decided that he would retire from peal ringing, until I suggested that we ring an ASCY peal made up of local members past and present to mark his 60th year of membership last October. He was very keen on the idea, even suggesting a practice peal earlier in the year just to make sure that he would be OK for it! Alas he was gone before it was attempted. However he did get to see a framed photo recently mounted on the wall of Bromley ringing room wall, of him being congratulated on his 60th year ASCY membership by the Master, Phil Goodyer.

David was fit as a fiddle, and enjoyed his Christmas Day and Boxing Day ringing. However a few days later he suddenly collapsed and was diagnosed with a torn aorta. He had two operations and his body went into shock. All the doctors could do was put him into an induced coma and rely on the fact that he was such a fit and active man to allow his body to heal itself, and everyone seriously believed it could. But it was a coma he wasn’t to wake up from and he passed away on 7th January. His funeral at Beckenham Crematorium was a very busy affair and attended by many people from all the groups with which he associated himself.

David’s passing has come as an awful shock to those of us who rang with him in Bromley and Beckenham and he has left a huge hole in the leadership at the Parish. He was a true gentleman in every respect and loved by everyone who knew him, young and old. He will be sorely and bitterly missed, and our thoughts go to his wife, Joan, and his two daughters, Julia and Hilary.


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