Tributes and Obituaries

Dee Carter: first class mum and famously forthright Clayhidon resident

She loved music, dancing and her African homeland


MARCH 2017
Dee Carter,  of Brookdale, Clayhidon, was born in Nakuru in Kenya’s Rift Valley and remained in love with Africa for all of her 71 years.

Her great grandparents had trekked more than 2,000 miles from South Africa after the Boer War to create a farm near Eldoret. Her mother moved to Nairobi, where Dee spent most of her childhood, until the allure of the swinging 1960s drew her to London.

There, in quick succession, she married, had two children within a year, Vanessa (1968) and Richard (1969), before divorcing and returning to Kenya.

She was working for an advertising photographer in Nairobi in 1972 when she met Neil Carter, an already much-travelled young Cheshire-born agronomist working for Dow Chemicals. They married, had a son, Malcolm, in 1976 and a year later moved to Greece, from where Neil was asked to run Dow’s pharmaceutical business in the Middle East.

The family lived there for four years, before Neil was transferred to Dubai, then a relatively undeveloped waterside city. Neil spent three years working out of the London office during which the family lived in Camberley before they were moved to Houston, Texas for four years, returning to London in 1989.

 Dee and Neil wanted English schooling for the children. They chose Taunton School because it was the first public school in the country to go co-educational from 13. It was the Taunton connection that first brought them to Clayhidon. They bought Brookdale, near the Half Moon Inn, in 1981 but did not move in until 1989.

She was famously forthright in her manner and did not suffer fools. But she was, said Neil, “incredibly supportive” of their many house moves and a “first class mum”, who didn’t believe in mollycoddling children.

Before the long illness that ended her life, she was outgoing and party-loving. She loved music and dancing and was in love with Africa, returning time and again to visit her Mother who still lived in Nairobi and then latterly Nanyuki.

Dee Carter was born on 5 November 1945 and died in Musgrove Park Hospital on 20 March 2017.  She is survived by Neil and her three children: Vanessa, who lives in New Zealand with her children, Will and George; Richard, who lives in Langford Budville;  and Malcolm, an airline captain with Emirates, who lives in Dubai.

A private funeral was held at Taunton Crematorium on 28 March

 


Patrick Meredith: war veteran and local historian
FEBRUARY 2017
One of Clayhidon's great characters, Patrick Meredith,
Nautical theme as parish says farewell to Navy veteran
 St Andrew's Church was crowded for the funeral on 9 March of Patrick Meredith. There was a nautical theme as family, friends and neighbours said goodbye to the Royal Navy war veteran.
Rowena Passy read Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem Crossing the Bar. In a moving tribute, Mark Meredith spoke of his father's war service and his lifelong love of sailing.  Patrick's coffin was carried out to the strains of The Pirates of Penzance. 
The service was conducted by the Rector, Rev David Burton. Patrick and Tricia's daughter Lucy read the lesson from John, chapter 6 versus 35-40. Donations were made in aid of The Royal Star and Garter Homes for service personnel.


of Lillycombe, died on 21 February 2017 at the age of 89.
He was a keen local historian and a painstaking keeper of historical records, who wrote a chapter of Clayhidon, a parish in the Blackdowns.
He was also a regular member of the congregation at St Andrew's and would proudly wear his medals at the annual Remembrance service.
Patrick was born in Southsea on 8 April 1927, the son of a Welsh naval officer and Irish mother. After joining the Royal Navy in 1941, he served as a 17-year-old midshipman on motor torpedo boats in the Dover Straits, then joined the battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth in Durban and took part in action against the Japanese off Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
After the war, he worked in the City as a chartered company secretary. He received his law degree at the University of London from the Queen Mother.
It was in London that he met Royal Navy captain’s daughter Tricia Watson. They married in 1967 and lived mostly at Headley, near Newbury until 1987, when they fell in love with Lillycombe and moved to Clayhidon with a menagerie of horses, dogs, cats and chickens. For a while they ran a livery service.
Here Patrick could indulge his passion for history and he became an active member of the Clayhidon Local History Group and of the Art Group. He was an avid reader of the Daily Telegraph  and a man of strong political opinions.
He died at Musgrove Hospital, leaving Tricia, their two grown-up children, Lucy and Mark, and six grandchildren. 










A man of strong convictions and a fierce intelligence 

Richard Dimbleby's church tribute to his friend and colleague, John Law. a former vice principal of SCAT, who died at his home in Clayhidon on 27 May 2016.
We are all here to celebrate John's life and achievements, and to remember what a
special person he was. I feel privileged that Judy has asked me to say a few words today. 

John was a private person who did not make it easy to get close to him, but those of us who got to know him recognised his real qualities of love, kindness, interest in and concern for others, his sense of humour, and indeed his joie de vivre.  He could see the funny side of things and had a broad smile and ready laugh.  These qualities only became clear to me over the past 25 years or so, when he felt loved  and valued by Judy, by his adopted family and by his friends. 

'We will miss our walking encyclopaedia' - Jamie Hutt

 Stepson Jamie Hutt said John's father had been a regular soldier who was posted to Dublin in 1921 where he met and married John's mother. In 1928 they moved to London. When John was five and his sister seven they were evacuated to Warminster during the Second World War and tried to run away unsuccessfully.

He said John was not a lover of the great outdoors and one of his last trips was to see his old team, the Harlequins, play at Exeter. He said it showed his strength of character that he was drenched, couldn't see the pitch, but was still determined to be there for the game he loved. He also loved the Tour de France, the university boat race and had a passion for cooking.

"He was a man of simple pleasures, reading, computers and watching sport. We will miss our walking encyclopaedia. John found himself at peace living in this valley with my mother. On the day of his passing he made my mother lunch and then, for some reason, decided to check the oil.

"The man we knew and loved was asked what he enjoyed once and he replied, sport, reading the papers and I quite enjoy my own company."

I'm sure I am not alone  here today when I recall that when I first met John, and for some time after, I found it hard to get beyond the public face  he presented.  

I first met John in 1981 when he was Head of Business Studies at SCAT and I joined the college as a colleague Head of Department.  The then Principal, Les Byram, told me that John had recently separated from his wife and family.  I now realise that he was going through a difficult time in his life, living alone tucked away on the Somerset Levels. 

Later when John became Vice Principal, he maintained this work role of being rather serious.  He did of course make a very significant contribution to Somerset College: guiding it through incorporation as a business and building strong foundations for its future development. 

In his work life, only occasionally would he talk more personally and relax enough to chat about rugby or holidays.  In fact when I worked with John I largely failed to see him as he really was - he did a good job of hiding the real John. 

But somehow Judy saw beyond his gruff exterior and realised there was more to him: underneath that front he presented to the world was a warm heart and a capacity to love and be loved. John must have been so pleased when Judy asked him to be her academic mentor for her Master's degree, and we know how that mentoring relationship blossomed for them both.  

Although John did not readily reveal himself and his feelings, here today are people who know him in different ways and recognise his many strengths and qualities.  I feel privileged to count John as a friend and, like you, feel very sad to lose him now. We shall not however lose our fond memories of him. 

For the past 20 years or so, since he retired, and since he and Judy came together and got married, I feel that John allowed himself to relax and to enjoy life.  He loved living in these hills, he loved his adopted family, he also loved his Brittany home, and he sought reconciliation with his lost children from his first marriage. 

 In Brittany, he plunged himself into renovating the old house in Cosperec Vraz  where the windows had previously been open to all the winds. Gill and I have so many fond memories of times with John and Judy, of partying and eating in Somerset, Devon and Brittany - drinking French wine under the wisteria, r having memorable meals at the Croix d'Or in Le Faouet. 

John was not in the habit of talking about his life and achievements, but perhaps I can briefly remind us of a few.  His childhood talents were recognised as he gained a place at the Grammar School, and then went on to read Modern Languages at Emmanuel College, Cambridge: developing a love for Spain and France.  John used to challenge my wife Gill, who taught languages, by saying that learning foreign languages was a waste of time - we don't think he meant it, and he was of course fluent in French and Spanish. 

After Cambridge, he went into business and became an export manager, travelling extensively around the world before changing career to work in higher and further education.  He became a Bursar in Chichester, then a Lecturer in Management at the then Bristol Polytechnic, then moving to Bridgwater College and on to SCAT as Head of Department and Vice Principal. 

John had a strong commitment to education and to enabling people to make the most of their opportunities as he had.  He had strong convictions and a fierce intelligence - able to analyse problems and find solutions. ‘Plan for the worst, hope for the best’, he would say. 

His calm and rational approach to things and Judy's more creative and energetic approach made them an unlikely couple, but they complemented each other so well. Judy's support for John has been immense; but I know that Judy has felt immensely supported by John too. 

John had great strength of character and did not shirk a challenge.  He faced his Parkinson's with enormous personal strength, making light of it and never complaining about it: he would say there are plenty of other people worse off. We know that in spite of this debilitating condition he made the most of these recent years. 

He loved his life, his wife, his family and his friends.  All of us here can recall happy times in John's company.  We know that underneath that apparently serious exterior was a man of great warmth and great character.  He was a loving husband and loyal friend who will be greatly missed.




Service for 'a little lady with a tremendous personality'

MARCH 2016
Tributes were paid at St Andrew’s Church, Clayhidon 

Tribute to Joan Harris by her daughter Brenda Briggs, emailed from Australia and read at her memorial service by Brenda Persey.

 My mum was an amazing woman,.
A woman who had an incredible brain in her head. There were no bounds to her knowledge of history, world politics, sport, nature, famous people and movie stars. She was not the one to play trivia with, unless she was on your team, as she always won.
She didn't suffer fools easily and always had her say. This made her a very independent lady, who always knew what she wanted and where she was going and I'm proud that she was my Mum.
She came over to visit us many times and we loved this, as it kept us all close. She always enjoyed her time here with our family and made new friends at the local sewing group.
We have many happy memories of outings and family get-togethers. Also some funny ones, like the time she had a go on the water slide and shot out the bottom like a rocket.
I know she would have liked to visit us again, but her health prevented this. That being said she kept up to date with everything that was happening here, she never forgot anyone's birthday and always sent money for Christmas. This was her way of being involved.
All of my five children and five grandchildren will remember her fondly. We always raise a toast to her at Christmas with a nice glass of red, which you know she liked. It was especially nice last year that she got to have a chat with everyone on Christmas night.
Everyone who knew of her battle with cancer would know of her incredibly strong will to fight and not give up. She never made any fuss and always answered with "I'm fine" when asked. She was such a strong woman and amazed everyone that she lasted fifteen years after her first diagnosis, I can only hope that I have some of her strength. 
She knew she was getting close to the end, typically saying  that she would be dead in a month (not one to beat about the bush was my Mum ) she told me that she had loved having me, loved being with my family and that she didn't want me to grieve, but to enjoy my life as she had enjoyed hers and she had had a good life ,traveling widely, being involved in many and varied interests. 
As she loved my garden we are going to get an old fashioned English rose to plant in her honour. We will think of her often and be thankful that she loved us and gave so much of herself to us.

Rest in peace Mum we loved you very much and will miss you even more.

on 19 March to “a little lady with a tremendous personality” when the parish bade farewell to Joan Harris.  She didn’t want a funeral service so this was a service of Thanksgiving for her life. 

Her daughter Brenda  had emailed a tribute to her mother from Australia (see right)and this was read by Brenda Persey. Margaret Blackmore spoke about people who had been very important to Joan; about their reminiscences and read a poem which she had written about Joan. 
Pam Reynolds spoke of her being a little lady with a tremendous personality. She had been a Parish Counsellor determined to do what was best for Clayhidon and its parishioners. For more than 20 years she had been on the Parochial Church Council and once more, determined to do what was best for her beloved church and its people.
“Her strong will and determination were an asset to her in her research about Clayhidon and its history,” said Pam.
“Similarly her immaculate sewing skills in quilting and patchwork were demonstrated in her countless designs and achievements.
“Perhaps her determination was most obvious in her health. She had been given a fortnight to live, yet she fought on and to everyone’s astonishment lived for fifteen years!”                                                                                                   There was a quieter side to Joan, not known by everyone.  Her love of birds; her love of music.She also possessed an instinct for younger people whom she could inspire and encourage. She developed an affinity with them. 
At this point young Maisie Pepperell came forward.  She spoke of her admiration for Joan and how they had become friends. The service finished with ‘God bless you, Joan. We miss you.  Be at peace.” 
Afterwards her ashes were carried out to the south wall of the churchyard, where they were laid to rest.  People gathered there to hear a prayer and then went into the Church Room for refreshments.

> She made a difference and brought our history alive - Local History Group chairman's tribute.


Joan Harris, history group founder, dies aged 89

Many people will be sad to hear that Joan Harris died on Friday evening (19 February 2016) aged 89, writes Pam Reynolds
She lived in Clayhidon for more than 30 years and became well known for the quality of her patchwork, but also as one of the founders of the Clayhidon Local History Group.
Over the years she has done an incredible amount of research about Clayhidon and its families. People used to contact her from all over this country and also from abroad to discover details about their ancestors, often information which could not be found online.
Joan was always the first person to greet people when they arrived for the annual ‘Big Breakfast’ held annually in March, for Cancer Research UK.
She also spent several years as a Parish Councillor. She was very committed to the Church and to the parish community, serving on the parochial church council for around 30 years.
She had hoped to live until her 90th birthday in August when she wanted to put on a final display of her patchwork, in the church.
She had been working towards it and completing new items.
However, we will still put on a display in August, in her memory, together with items made by 11 year old Maisie Pepperell who was inspired by Joan.

Riverside farewell to Gary Williams

august 2014
I
n a unique and moving ceremony beside the River Culm on 15 August 2014 family and friends said goodbye to Gary Williams, who has died at the age of 62.
Born in Connecticut, USA, Gary had a passion for music and in his 30-year career in the record business worked with many of the biggest names in entertainment, from Leonard Cohen to Celine Dion and Bruce Springsteen.
After leaving college he talked his way into a job in the mail room at Columbia records, New York and then systematically worked his way up through the ranks of Columbia and Sony. His job took him all over the world. He moved to Denmark, then Holland, where he met Yvonne Roth, and then London.
When he retired at 50 he and Yvonne moved to the Water Mill, Clayhidon. In the beautiful garden Yvonne created beside the river, celebrant Trudy Farmer conducted a farewell ceremony, praising this “patient, dignified and very gracious man” who had fought an unrelenting battle against cancer.
His friend David Bridewell paid humorous tribute to Gary’s enthusiasm for golf. Another friend and former work colleague, Nick, said: “If not quite the king of rock’n’roll, Gary has a unique place in the music biz, As one of his lifelong friends said yesterday, ‘He was the loveliest and most decent man I know’.”
He said Gary would stick up for his staff and his artists and help any friend out in any way. “The messages I’ve received have been overwhelming and from all over the world.”
To the sound of James Taylor singing September Grass, Yvonne placed grasses on his casket beside the river.  The ceremony ended with Billy Joel singing Lullaby.
Gary’s ashes are to be scattered in the garden and at Todd’s Point, a place he where he loved to picnic back home with his family in Connecticut.
There were no flowers. Instead donations to Bowel Cancer UK were requested. 

200 celebrate life of Bee Hill

JULY 2014
The Blackdown Belles singing group (above) serenade guests at a humanist ceremony on 11 July 2014 to celebrate the life of Bee Hill, of Bollhayes, Clayhidon. Around 200 family members and friends from across the UK and Europe met in  a field at Biscombe Cross in blazing sunshine to say farewell. They heard moving tributes to Bee and stories of her life and career and of how much she meant to so many individuals.
- In June members of Clayhidon Parish Hall committee stood for a minute’s silence for their vice chairman Bee Hill at the start of their annual meeting.
Mike Hudson, the outgoing chairman, said they were all “enormously grateful for her enthusiasm and energy”. Her death in May shocked the whole community and was a severe blow to the committee.Mike said the greatest burden of putting on events in what had been a very busy year had fallen on Bee.


Peter Gregory dies aged 89 after a 'very good life'
MAY 2013
Clayhidon residents turned out in force to attend the funeral of Peter Stanley Gregory on Wednesday, 29 May 2013, at All Saints Church, Nynehead.

Peter, who lived at Applehayes, Clayhidon, for 42 years, died on May 17. He was 89.
His son Chris said his father had been very specific and was adamant his funeral should be a celebration because he believed he had had a very good life. He did not want a eulogy, so instead Chris spoke about his father's life and the recurrent themes of the sea, the land and baler twine.
Peter was born in Wellington on September. 9, 1923, and fell in love with the countryside when he moved to Churchstanton. When he was 15 he went to HMS Worcester, a training establishment in London then worked for a while on a dairy farm in Wiltshire. Too young to join up he joined the Royal Navy after his 18th birthday in 1941, and was assigned to HMS Clematis, a corvette escorting Atlantic convoys. Selected for officer training he went to Scotland to learn how to captain a landing craft, and in 1943 set sail for the Mediterranean aged 20.
Chris said his father said these were some of the happiest days of his life even when he got lost trying to land at Sicily. He was involved in other landings in Salerno, the south of France and Greece and Africa. A ship he was on was bombed while he was in the shower, but it beached before it could sink.
After the war he returned to farming, then worked in a garage and was hoping to go to university, but got the opportunity to go to Kenya and work on a coffee plantation. He loved it, was involved in the community and even set up a rugby club.
His brother persuaded him to come back to Wellington and join the family firm of Walter Gregory, and he did and married Shirley in 1950. They bought a house at Culm Davey and in 1959 moved back to Oakleigh, the family home in Wellington. Chris said his father loved his rugby and was both chairman and president of the Wellington Club. Another major interest was his vegetable garden, and on the day he died, May 17, had been discussing planting potatoes.
Sailing was important to him and he kept a boat at Beer. Shirley went once and that was enough. In 1968 he went to the Antarctic on a trip led by Peter Scott and had a fantastic time. At home it was a traumatic time however, as Walter Gregory was in the process of being bought out, and both Peter and his brother Michael were made redundant. (The company later became Swallowfield).
But then began the most wonderful period of his life. He had already bought land on the Blackdowns and then Applehayes came on the market next to that land. Peter began rearing calves and Highland cattle, and took up hunting, holding things together with baler twine. When his son Simon got involved in the Jubilee Sailing Trust Peter decided to go tall ship sailing and was never happier than when he was up the rigging in a storm.
The ponds in Clayhidon and the trees he planted over many years were the cultural centre for the family, where they would camp, eat drink and tell tales. This, said Chris, was his biggest legacy to the next generation. Another was the trees he planted at the top of the football ground in Wellington to mark Churchill's death.
Peter and Shirley moved to a house at Nynehead Court in 2010.
At the funeral service which followed an earlier family cremation, Peter's daughter Tara Huffman read an excerpt from A A Milne's Winnie The Pooh and granddaughter Jess read Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted Trees.
Donations were made to the Jubilee Sailing Trust and Nynehead's All Saints Church. Peter is survived by his wife Shirley, son Chris and daughters Tara and Emma

Mike Baker, distinguished broadcaster and Clayhidon resident, dies at 55
Mike Baker, the distinguished former BBC education specialist, who lived in Clayhidon, died in a London hospice on September 21 at the age of 55. 
His funeral is planned for 1pm on Friday October 5 at St. Andrew's Church.
Mike and Chrissie Baker, who also have a home in Kingston upon Thames, moved to The Parlour at Cordwents about four years ago and quickly established themselves as active and popular members of our community, throwing themselves into local activities with great vigour. 
Mike was diagnosed with lung cancer last year despite being a lifelong non-smoker. He died with Chrissie and their daughters Louise and Rachel at his bedside. 
Twice winner of the education journalist of the year award, he covered the upheavals in schools and universities for the BBC from 1989 to 2007 - from the days of Margaret Thatcher through to Tony Blair. 
Among many who have paid tribute to his professionalism are former education secretary Baroness Estelle Morris, Universities Minister David Willetts and Head of BBC Newsgathering Fran Unsworth.
David Blunkett, another former education secretary, said: "Mike Baker was not only one of the nicest journalists I ever met, but one of the most thorough and reliable." 
"He mixed a total commitment to his love of education with a journalistic eye for detail but complemented this with his academic ability and therefore knowledge in depth. This enabled him to be able to distinguish between trendy clap trap, and genuine educational innovation and newsworthy development. He will be sorely missed." 
Last year his online column for the Guardian won him the Best Online Education Commentary award at a ceremony in the House of Commons. The blog on his own website won the 2011 CIPRA National Journalism Award for Best Online Commentary on Education. 
The same website carried his cancer blog, a candid, fearless and often deeply moving account of his illness, which he continued writing until just before his death.

Details of a memorial service will be announced later. 
>Click here to read the BBC News obituary. 


Alec George Levett

Born July 15 1916. Died Bridge Cottage, Clayhidon March 16 2011
 
My father’s life could be summed up by saying that he was born in Portsmouth July 1916 and died in Clayhidon March 2011. BUT

 

His 94 year life was full. Born in the First World War, served in the Second, he led a happy, interesting and healthy life until the last few months.

 

He was Father to me his only child, Grandfather to Julian and Jamie and Great Grandfather to Eli, Tom, Barney, Max and Ellie. He was fearsomely protective over his family, supportive and inspirational but none of us were spared his criticism ifwe did not come up to his exacting standards.

 

On leaving school he went to work in Worthing where he met Doris. He was 15 and she was seven years older. They were married in 1937 when he was 20 and as he was under age his Father had to witness his signature. He worked in London first for Woolworths and then Littlewoods, Oxford St as a departmental manager.

 

In 1939 at the age of 22 he enlisted for the army as the onset of World War

II seemed imminent. He had many war time stories and tells of going to the

Territorial Army Head Quarters in Sloane Square walking down a corridor and

choosing the First Cavalry Division because it sounded good!

 

He travelled down through France with horses en route to Palestine. After a year

in Jerusalem, he went to Cairo and the Western Desert. He spent some time in

Italy where he witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius and was presented to Pope

Pius 12th - some honour for an Anglican. In 1943 he became a commissioned

officer, spending time in England and Germany before being demobbed in 1946.

 

After twoyears working back in London he decided on the spur of the moment to

take over a village pub in Chumleigh, Devon. Neither he nor my mother had seen

the pub before they arrived, nor had any experience in the business. I was born in

1948.

 

Deciding it was no life to bring up a child he moved his family to Chard in 1950

where he took on a run down business and shop. His parents joined us and the

businesses thrived through exceedingly hard work on the part of all my Family.

During our time in Chard he was an active member and President of Chard Rotary

Club.

 

After the death of my Mother (also in March) in 1972 he was bereft. Soon after he

met Winifred whom he married in 1973, retired and moved to a beautiful cottage

 

near Winsham on the Cricket St Thomas estate. Here he spent more than 20 happy years

immersing himself in their beautiful garden and was an active committee member

for The Friends of Cricket. Winifred died in1998 and he found himself on his own

again and unhappy.

 

Then the dawn of the New Millennium and Doreen came into his life. Aged 86 he

moved to Cullompton to live in a house in town with a more manageable garden.

 

In 2005 aged 89 my Father and I attended the Remembrance Day Service at the

Cenotaph. I was immensely proud of him. It was an honour for me to assist him in

what was a physically demanding undertaking.

 

In 2009 my Father’s final move was to join me and John here in Clayhidon.

He ‘supervised with meticulous scrutiny’ the design and furnishing of his exquisite

studio apartment to the highest possible standards and nothing like & I quote ‘an

old person’s place’. He was here in Clayhidon for only a short time but he made

his presence felt and made even more new friends. My Father and I had a

difference of opinion over flowers and plants, he liking multi coloured and bright

saying ‘‘nothing in nature clashed’’. As a tribute to him the flowers you see today

are symbolic of his love of gardening and colour.

 

In July 2010 he celebrated his 94th Birthday with Doreen on a cruise to the

Norwegian fjords. October 2010 we went to our house in France where we had

a happy time eating out, meeting friends and shopping which he enjoyed. We

bought my Christmas outfit together which I am wearing today in his memory.

 

To sum up, he was a man of indomitable spirit and courageous in the face of ill

health at the end. Good at organising and working on house or garden projects

right up to the last. A good cook, his pastry making was legendary, the whole

family enjoying his mince pies at Christmas. He loved people and was extremely

sociable. He was emotional and not afraid to show his feelings.

 

He was an exceptional role model, one that I shall be for ever grateful to for

helping and supporting me in bringing up my boys when we were on our own.

 

I would like to thank him for giving me and my family a wonderful life.

 

 - JUDY HUTT

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