4th April 1938 – 5th May 2012

When meeting a new ringer, have you ever wondered anything about their life? When we moved to Steyning in 2003 one of the ringers was Doug and I did wonder. First impressions were of someone who was probably retired and spending his time pottering around, but then he would announce that he was off to Loughborough for a week at the University. Why?

Doug was born in Lichfield, as he used to describe, in a small country town. After school he went to study mechanical engineering at Loughborough, graduating in 1962 with a first class honours degree. During his time at Loughborough he was fully involved in student life and gained a blue for his performances as a triple jumper. This was not bad at a college that also specialised in sport training.

On leaving university he found employment with Ruston and Hornsby in Lincoln, at that time still a leading diesel engine manufacturer. They were undertaking research into thermo- dynamics and this was to be Doug’s speciality. A return to Loughborough to undertake a PhD followed. After completion of his PhD Doug returned to Rustons at Lincoln and ultimately became their chief thermo-dynamics engineer.

In 1972 Doug moved to Sussex where he went to work for Ricardo Consulting Engineers in Shoreham. Here he was to work with all the major engine manufacturers in the world. It is probably true to say that everyone now either drives a vehicle whose engine has been influenced by Doug’s work, or travels on a motorway or railway that was constructed by machines using engines influenced by him.

It was at this time that Doug and family moved to Steyning. He was taught to ring by Hugh Pettifer and became a member of the Sussex Association in1 980. Work unfortunately meant numerous absences from the belfry as it took him around the world. A lot of work was undertaken in China, very much a closed country as it was only a few years after the cultural revolution. Doug had other interests including flying and gaining his private pilot’s licence. Before Doug left Ricardo he had become Chairman and Chief Executive. Since then he has worked as a consultant, particularly with Caterpillar. He regularly returned to Loughborough as a visiting professor, and in this role he was very much a hands-on person. He helped with research students on a regular basis. He also developed close working ties between industry and the university, first Perkins and subsequently Caterpillar.

For all his achievements in 2007 he was made an Honorary Doctor of Technology by Loughborough University. He had earlier been made a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. One description of him was a vertically integrated engineer, having worked at the very top of his profession but also remaining interested in hands-on engineering.

What of Doug’s ringing? As with all he did in life there was a modesty of his own ability. He supported ringing at Steyning over the many years, even after a house move to Partridge Green, and after more than one occasion being approached to join West Grinstead ringers. But he was loyal to Steyning where he was steeple keeper, and an active member of the church. He enjoyed going on outings, although one that we had never found time to arrange was to his birthplace of Lichfield. He would have liked to ring there, especially the Cathedral where one of his grandfathers had worked as a stonemason.

Doug had rung two peals, the first was to celebrate when he became professor; and numerous quarters, mainly at Steyning for Sunday service. He was getting to grips with Cambridge Major and had rung in Australia on a recent trip to see his daughter and family in Melbourne.

Besides ringing there was an interest in the wartime RAF and Doug was carrying out research with a number of navigators to find out how they had coped on their missions. This entailed time at RAF Hendon and more locally when a surviving person was found to interview.

At the service of thanksgiving to celebrate Doug’s life, there was a recurring theme in all of the tributes: that he was a lovely man and very modest in what he did. This service was a true reflection of the different components that made up his life, not forgetting his family, his children, wife Thea, and their grandchildren.

We'll all miss him


BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers