On behalf of Wendy -I thank you all for coming today.
There is an old saying "You can take the man out of the army
but you can't take the army out of the man" and that was
so true for Don.
Don joined the Lancashire Fusiliers back in 1963 and on the merger
became a member of the 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
In fact he served in the 4th 1st and 2nd Battalions but never
the third, yet such is the regimental family, that several of
the third are here today.
He saw service in Britain, Hong Kong, Canada, West Germany, Cyprus,
Berlin, Kenya and did several tours in Northern Ireland during
the troubles. He was awarded the BEM in 1984 for his services
in Berlin, carrying out duties well above his rank. But that was
Don, a great NCO - No fuss, no glory, just get the job done.
On leaving the army in 1989 he became a civil servant working
in MT Flight at RAF Leeming. He was very versatile and soon became
a well-respected member of the support team even though his overalls
were green and not grey. -- If it moved on land, Don could drive
it; from tankers to ambulances, staff cars to buses
But although Don was a dedicated soldier at heart - he still remained
the perfect gentleman.
Moira and I met Don when he and Wendy joined the Richmond Branch
of the Royal British Legion, they both became a great asset to
When he was asked to be the Branch Standard Bearer it was like
we had given him all his Christmas presents at once. He took it
home, polished it and made a special stand for it.
He took the job very seriously and was always immaculately turned
out, and with the handlebar moustache making him the epitome of
the "Old Soldier". At the Royal British Legion Freedom
parade, I and many others felt he put the national standard bearer
in the shade.
He travelled all over the North East and even down to Brize Norton
at his own expense to carry the standard for parades and funerals.
Many will remember him on the Market Place with his poppy stall
during the Remembrance fortnight. Regardless of the weather he
never wore a coat. He never said it - but I got the look which
said -"The uniform is Blazer and beret" but he did admit
to wearing thermals underneath.
He took great pride in whatever he did and for those who have
seen the film "The Great Escape", Don was the James
Garner character, whatever was needed Don would somehow find it
or make it. . The things he came up with to decorate our dinners
and our festivals; - Sand bags full of paper, plastic barbed wire
and all sorts of military equipment. His garage is a military
Don and Wendy became close friends and on my appointment as mayor
of Richmond he volunteered to be my driver and chain guard, and
volunteered Wendy as mayoress's escort. Driving his highly polished
car with the Richmond badge proudly set on the front and sides.
We never missed a function and no one attempted to nick the chain.
Because of his bearing and personality Don was well respected
by the other mayors and was welcomed as a guest at many of the
Regrettably my Mayors Ball was the last function Don attended.
Looking like a bouncer with the glasses he won.
A military friendship is something only the military can understand;
Don and I's friendship was that type of friendship, unspoken respect,
loyalty and support.
As the saying goes "We will remember him".