Below is a tribute from Lynne Assirati, a neighbour and friend, which was read by Lynne at Don's funeral service on Tuesday 14th September 2021.
'...he was a man of many parts, a character of Dickensian proportions the like of whom we may not meet again'
Don will leave a hole in the lives of all of us here today. He has been our near neighbour for more than 37 years having moved into Alders Road just a month after we did. We didn't hit it off at first but that's another story. For much of this very long time we have shared all the important occasions, special birthdays, his and ours and those of our other family members, anniversaries, Christmases and even Royal Jubilees with Don enthusiastically helping to put up marquees, organise the bar and presenting himself the next morning for the traditional fry-up. More recently, we flooded together and bubbled together with Don being almost the only other person we saw or talked to for weeks on end. He was our regular walking companion, we shared shopping and the green house and Saturday nights were reserved for dinner and the crossword when he always answered twice as many of the clues as Robert and I combined. We did, of course, form a pub quiz team for many years and it has been known for us to win the prize money.
Robert was with him at the hospital when he received the grim news that his cancer was inoperable and I have to admit I wondered how we would all cope but Don was stoic, brave and uncomplaining. Our daughter and grand children are also here today to say their good byes because Don wasn't just a friend - he was a member of our family.
However, Don could be a difficult man at times. Indeed, one of his friends said to me a couple of days after he died that he was "curmudgeonly". What a wonderful word that is and one that Don would have appreciated though perhaps not the sentiment behind it because Don was a wordsmith.
Above: Don caught in a 'curmudgeonly' moment perhaps.
Twice published in his own right, a major contributor to the three books about Capel published by the History Society and in recent years their chairman, and a regular contributor to the Parish Magazine especially on behalf of the Cricket Club. I should add that this friend spoke with great fondness. Curmudgeonly - for me conjures up a picture of an Edwardian gentleman sitting in his smoking jacket and fez in a large armchair, gouty foot resting on a pile of cushions, cigar in one hand and glass of madeira in the other all fuzzy beard and whiskers. Sounds a bit like Don, doesn't it? and Don would have loved to have been born into the Edwardian period because he adored dressing up. He especially loved "hats".
About once a year we would try to organise a trip to the theatre in London - "Why don't people dress up anymore? - make an occasion of it. Why is it jeans with everything? He would say irritably having made the effort himself to put on a natty waistcoat and bow tie and I am inclined to agree with him. Unfortunately, he was born 50 years too late and instead he had to deal with "technology".
He quite liked to pop round to me on a Wednesday afternoon for a cup of tea - I wonder if he could smell the cake baking in the oven? - because Wednesday is my cooking afternoon and he was happy to be put to work chopping veg or giving things a stir. "I'm jolly glad I left work when I did - I could never have managed all this computer stuff and spread sheets". Well, actually, he would have managed fine with a bit of training because Don was a clever man even though he did fail his Maths GCE 3 times but he never did take to on-line banking and would patiently tell the cashier in the Nationwide that he was perfectly aware he could do all this stuff on the computer but preferred to deal face to face and didn't she realise she was doing herself out of a job? I only hope when he arrived at the Pearly Gates that he wasn't confronted with a key pad and a request to enter his password.
Don was also a stubborn man and if news of his demise has made its way to the officials at TWBC I imagine there has been much popping of champagne corks and someone will have dug out some bunting because Don was a thorn in their side. His specialist subjects were listed buildings and litter and Don was often to be seen on a Sunday morning litter picker in one hand and black sack in the other cleaning along the verges of Alders Road. All the neighbours go out and do their bit and mostly we are picking up McDonalds wrappers and cartons so Don resolved to write to McDonalds to invite them to clear up after their customers. Needless to say, he didn't receive a reply which incensed him so much he wrote to them to complain about their rudeness. Well, that was Don for you.
So, (he absolutely hated a sentence starting with the word "so" and naturally I just had to put it in. So, if Don was a bit old-fashioned, occasionally cantankerous a, dogged man with very set and quite frankly sometimes un-PC views, why is this church which he loved so much full to the brim with the congregation overflowing out into the churchyard which he was so proud to help to restore as a member of the Friends of Capel Church?
Don was a caring man. No mother could have had a more loving son and it is fitting that they should lie together here. He was godfather to 4 children and took his duties very seriously. He was a reliable and helpful neighbour even though he did boil my tropical fish one year when left in charge of the house whilst we were on holiday. He was conscientious and always went above and beyond the call of duty, whether in the role of Scout Master during the 70s and 80s, Secretary General to the International Monarchist League and concurrently Secretary to the Constitutional Monarchy Association during the 90s or as Master of the Cadogan Masonic Lodge and Stanley Wykeham Lodge and was always very pleased to pass on his experience to those younger members who were taking on offices in their turn. And that is just a few of his many interests. Let's not forget the years he spent working lineside for the Spa Valley Railway and volunteering for Trinity theatre both on and off the stage and one you probably didn't know about - he was a judge for the Southern England Parade Band Contest between 2013 and 2016. He also states on his Linked-in Page that he was a film extra and photographic model but perhaps we would be better not to go there.
Don loved a good party, appreciated good food and wine and was a great raconteur who could always be relied upon to keep my dinner guests in fits of laughter whilst Robert and I cleared dishes and brought the next course to the table.
In short, he was a man of many parts, a character of Dickensian proportions the like of whom we may not meet again and I am sure this afternoon will be full of anecdotes and funny stories as we celebrate his life together. But, there is always a but isn't there - there is one thing Don was not - Don was not a modest man. He knew his worth and would not have been in the slightest bit surprised to see you all here today but he would have been very gratified.