Farewell To Our Late Queen Elizabeth II

Today, the UK, Commonwealth and the world bid their last farewell to Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as she has now officially been laid to rest.  Thousands lined the streets to view her coffin as it travelled through London to Windsor.

Vice Chair of Broadwindsor Parish Council, Jacqui Sewell

The procession and funeral was live streamed at the Comrades Hall where the village’s book of condolences was also available which Vice Chair of Broadwindsor Parish Council, Jacqui Sewell can be seen signing in the photograph. Refreshments were served. Those that attended were very appreciative and the young children present behaved extremely well, particularly during the funeral 🙂

As The Queen’s Committal Service came to a close, Her Majesty’s Piper Pipe Major Paul Burns of the Royal Regiment of Scotland played the lament ‘Sleep, dearie, sleep’.

The 11th former monarch to be buried in St. George’s chapel in Windsor Castle, the Queen is now buried alongside her father King George VI, the Queen Mother, her sister Margaret and next to her beloved Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who died in April 2021.
Learn more of royal burials in St. George’s chapel – Click HERE.

Thank You Your Majesty!
Rest In Peace – God Save the King!


The State Funeral Of Our Queen Elizabeth II – Monday, 19th September 2022

Our Queen is now Lying-in-State in Westminster Hall, London allowing the public to pay their respects.

On the morning of Monday 19th September, the Lying-in-State will end and the Coffin will be taken in Procession from the Palace of Westminster to Westminster Abbey, where the State Funeral Service will take place at 11.00 hrs. BST.

Her Majesty’s State funeral will be streamed to the big screen at the Comrades Hall on Monday, 19th September 2022.

Doors will open at 10am. All are welcome.

Following the State Funeral, the Coffin will travel in Procession from Westminster Abbey to Wellington Arch. From Wellington Arch, the Coffin will travel to Windsor and once there, the State Hearse will travel in Procession to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle via the Long Walk.
A Committal Service will then take place in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The streaming will continue until 12.30pm.

Non-alcoholic refreshments will be available. You are also welcome to bring your own refreshments along.

The Book of Condolences which is currently in our church, will be available for those who would like the opportunity to contribute.

King Charles III
and his siblings took part in the Vigil of the Princes on Monday, 12th September at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland after being driven down from Balmoral in Aberdeenshire accompanied by Princess Anne.
First occurring with King George V in 1936, this was only the third Vigil of Princes in recorded history. The Princess Royal became the first woman ever to stand guard at a Vigil of the Princes. They all stood vigil for a second time at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday, 14th.


Vice Chairman Jacqui Sewell Reads The Proclamation

This afternoon at 3.30pm, Vice Chairman of Broadwindsor Parish Group Council, Jacqui Sewell, read out the Proclamation of King Charles III.

The fact that the signs on the photograph state ‘Monarchs Way‘ appears to have an additional significance!


Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to His Mercy our late Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second of Blessed and Glorious Memory, by whose Decease the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is solely and rightfully come to The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George: We, therefore, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm and Members of the House of Commons, together with other members of Her late Majesty’s Privy Council and representatives of the Realms and Territories, Aldermen and Citizens of London, and others, do now hereby with one voice and Consent of Tongue and Heart publish and proclaim that The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George is now, by the Death of our late Sovereign of Happy Memory, become our only lawful and rightful Liege Lord Charles the Third, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of His other Realms and Territories, King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to whom we do acknowledge all Faith and Obedience with humble Affection; beseeching God by whom Kings and Queens do reign to bless His Majesty with long and happy Years to reign over us.
Given at St. James’s Palace this tenth day of September in the year of Our
Lord two thousand and twenty-two.


Thank you to Peter Roe for the photographs 🙂


The National Accession Proclamation For King Charles III

The National Accession Proclamation for King Charles III took place earlier today at St. James’s Palace in London.
Following this, a local proclamation ceremony conducted by the High Sheriff of Dorset, Sibyl King in the presence of the Lord-Lieutenant, Angus Campbell, will take place at 1.00pm on Sunday, 11th September on the front steps outside County Hall, Dorchester. Members of the public are welcome to attend. You can arrive from 12:45pm to gather in front of the steps. Councillor Jacqui Sewell will be attending to represent the Grouped Parish.

In Broadwindsor,
the Union Jack flag was raised for the proclamation and once the proclamations have been declared in the four regions of the UK, which is due to be completed at noon tomorrow, flags will be lowered again to half mast until after the state funeral on Monday, 19th September.
A book of condolences is available to sign in our church and opportunities to be in church to pray and light candles.
An official Proclamation for the Grouped Parish will be read out on Sunday, 11th September at 3.30pm in Bernards’ Place, Broadwindsor (Comrades Hall if raining).
Please do come along, everyone is welcome.


Whereas it has pleased Almighty God to call to His Mercy our late Sovereign
Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second of Blessed and Glorious Memory, by whose
Decease the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is
solely and rightfully come to The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George: We,
therefore, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm and Members of the House
of Commons, together with other members of Her late Majesty’s Privy Council and
representatives of the Realms and Territories, Aldermen and Citizens of London, and
others, do now hereby with one voice and Consent of Tongue and Heart publish and
proclaim that The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George is now, by the Death of our
late Sovereign of Happy Memory, become our only lawful and rightful Liege Lord
Charles the Third, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland and of His other Realms and Territories, King, Head of the
Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to whom we do acknowledge all Faith and
Obedience with humble Affection; beseeching God by whom Kings and Queens do
reign to bless His Majesty with long and happy Years to reign over us.
Given at St. James’s Palace this tenth day of September in the year of Our
Lord twenty thousand and twenty-two.



Our Queen Elizabeth II Has Died

Tributes are pouring in from around the world for our Queen, Elizabeth II who died earlier this afternoon at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, surrounded by her family.

At the age of 96 years old and reigning for over 70 years, many will have known no other monarch in their lives. The 2nd Elizabethan era has ended.

At the age of 73 years old, her son King Charles III spoke of the death of his beloved mother “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother.”

Buckingham Palace stated that the King and his wife, Camilla, now Queen Consort, will return to London tomorrow, Friday 9th.

Our country’s longest ever reigning monarch, our Queen remained alert, engaged and working until the very end. The new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, was appointed by the Queen just two days ago.  Liz Truss said the Queen was” the rock on which modern Britain was built, who had provided us with the stability and strength that we needed“.

Queen Elizabeth II is survived by her four children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

The UK will remain in a period of national mourning until the Queen’s state funeral after Buckingham Palace set in motion a detailed accession plan that has been honed over decades.

Operation London Bridge, as the Queen’s funeral plans are codenamed, will be combined with Operation Unicorn, the plan for a monarch dying at Balmoral, which is named after the national animal of Scotland.

The Queen Is Dead – Long Live The King!


Farewell Suzette Riggs

Friends and family gathered together yesterday to celebrate the life of Suzette Riggs, Sue who died earlier last month.  Sue had requested a non-attendance cremation, which puzzled some but had to be respected.  The following are the words spoken by the Celebrant, Helen Salway-Roberts from Hillside Ceremonies:

“Hello how lovely to see you all as we join together to celebrate the life of one of Broadwindsor`s finest our very own Sue Riggs, a woman who was strong of mind and will, a tiny woman with broad shoulders where many here will have laid your weary heads or shed a tear, for that was her way, the unofficial social worker, confidante , and wise ol’ bird of Broadwindsor.

How are you managing without her ?,  for when the proverbial hit the fan , she`s the one you turned too, she`d know what to do, the one who could help is not here when we need her the most, the giver of sound advice, every community needs a Sue Riggs.

We`ll never know why Sue made the decision to not have a funeral, opting for a non attended cremation, but you can be sure it would not have been made lightly, no she`d have thought it through, and it would have been made with the best of intentions, my hunch is that she was trying to protect and spare you her friends, her loved ones from the pain and heartache of a funeral ceremony.

As a funeral celebrant you could say I am a bit biased , but it seems to me that goodbyes are important and they need to done with others who miss that special person who is no longer with us.

We also need to celebrate together the life that has ended, we don`t need a chapel or church to remember, this hall definitely feels right, how many times has your Sue celebrated in this village hall, how many village shindigs and shenanigans has Sue been party to here , if these walls could talk eh !.

She loved you her friends and family, she`d not see this gathering as going against her wishes, I think she`d be chuffed to see you all here, no big fuss it`s not a funeral , it`s a doo, and she loved a  bit of a doo, so we`ll have a natter, they`ll be chance for you all to chip in if you want to as we take a trip down memory lane ,there`ll no formal eulogy that wasn`t her thing, and then we`ll share slice a cake, there had to be snack, no one left Sues company hungry.

Every morning she`d put on her trusty red lipstick, back in the day she`d rock a classic beehive, just so , lookout world here I come, do not be fooled by her tiny stature but she was a proper firecracker who took no prisoners you knew where you stood, and to stand at Sue`s side was a  good place to be, a heart the size of a planet, who loved and was loved indeed always will be loved dearly.

And that’s what brought you all here today, to remember, and remember well.”

Helen then welcomed Julie & Sally to speak:

“Hello Everyone
It is so lovely to see so many of you here today, thank you all for being here. Sally and I would like to share some special memories but together by our mum and by us  of Sue.
Suzette (Sue) – Wife, mum, mum-in-law, Granny, Sister, Auntie & Friend. What special memories and love we have all shared for Sue. Suzette was born in 1946 the youngest of four children,  sister to John, Peter and Myrtle.  She was Affectionately known as Lettuce when she was a little girl although we are not sure how that came about or by whom do you know Pete? Being another girl it was taken as read that when old enough she would tag along in her sister’s shadow. Sue tagging along was not always cool and not always welcomed, so inevitably there were times when she was  subjected to the  odd prank or two. She also had to spend time as a lookout in case Nan came back while mum was up to no good.

She was also a bit of a prankster herself, when our dad first came to live in the village he was walking his dog down the road when Suzette and her friend shouted “ Hey Terry your dog just peed in our milk” obviously dad was unsure whether this was true or not so he gave them the money to buy some more, but not before he threw the other away. He still doesn’t know to this day whether it was-true or not and she would never ever let on.
When the two sisters were older and the age gap not as meaningful one thing soon became clear and that was their friendship and love for each other, which carried them right through their adult life, along with their love  for their big brothers John and Peter, and Peters wife Pat.  It must also be mentioned that Suzette had a big Soft spot for our father Terry and regarded him as another big brother.
Once mum and dad took Sue on a trip to WestBay, they were hungry and decided to buy Harvest Fruit Pies for lunch ( who remembers them) ? At that time there were many different flavours and combinations of flavours. Suzette was sent to buy the pies ( how difficult could that be)? All three wanted something different, Suzette wanted Apple, dad wanted Pineapple and mum wanted Pineapple and Apple. Off Suzette went with the order but was soon back with a confused look on her face saying “but that is four pies when there is only the 3 of us”, she never did get it that the Pineapple and Apple were one flavour, even recently she still couldn’t make sense of the request.
There was also a time as a teenager when Suzette had a little too much to drink, she went next door to the Fursemans to sober up, Nan kept asking if anyone had seen Suzette but this was denied wholeheartedly by all of them “ no Mrs Gay they said innocently we haven’t seen her” . She was kept with them until sober enough to return home, Nan never any the wiser.

It should be known that living next door to our grandparents, Suzette was a devoted daughter and was always there for them, Peter and mum played their part too but Suzette was the one that was always on hand.
Sally and I were her older nieces followed a little later by Karen and Tracey, Sally and I were never allowed to call her Auntie as this made her feel old but by the time Karen and Tracey came on the scene she got more used to the idea. Is that right Karen were you allowed to call her Auntie?
She was the cool, unshockable aunt, a confidant. As many of you know she had no aires and graces and would call a spade a spade which is what made her special as we all knew where we stood with her. She was always interested in what went on in our lives and loved to hear various stories of what we were all doing. Followed later by are own childrens antics and family lives.
One funny incident was on our dad’s 80th birthday and we had a party for him in Beaminster playing fields, to get there you had to climb a hedge bank, so not to miss out Suzette was piggy backed across the bank by my eldest son Jon, how they didn’t fall in the ditch on the other side I still don’t know to this day as they were laughing so much and wobbling like they were on ice, both survived and did it again on the way back over.

Finally we mention those who always came first to Sue, Wayne of course and his wife Elaine and their daughters Holly and Lorna, she was so proud of you all, and everything you have and will continue to achieve as a family.
To you all – just try to remember that where there’s love there’s memories and with those memories there are smiles and one day laughter again of the times you shared together.”


Helen then read out a personal message from a dear friend, Anna Russell:

<< I met Suzette in July 2001. I was a newly qualified teacher employed at Broadwindsor Primary School and at the time Suzette was the cleaner and all round Social Worker!!!  The best and most skilful in her game!!
Suzette( and Mini the dog!) befriended me from day one. She was the kind of person who within ten minutes had asked enough questions and had had enough experience to know just who you were! I was a DORSET girl so I was O.K.!  She reminded me instantly of my Portland granny who employed just the same tactic!!
Ten minutes became 21 years! From colleagues to friends and near family. Suzette became my second mum (Endorsed by my own mum and dad who have  met her on several occasions and always held her in the highest esteem because of the care and love she always bestowed upon me !).
We continued to support  one another even when Suzette retired and I left the school at Broadwindsor to start a new life in Portland in 2018.  Suzette was anxious that I’d be lonely, but after a visit including a fish and chip lunch thought I’d be just  fine!
We supported one another throughout the pandemic with our calls throughout the day, every day and some surprise visits from me and some very hairy bikers!!
I miss Suzette, Mrs Riggs, my Friend dearly. >>

Her closest friend Vanessa Studley then spoke:

Friendship and Love
A friendship is fondly found, forged and fashioned over 21 years.
A friendship started with a cup of tea in the ‘Fozzie’ cup and afternoon classroom visits with dearest Mini.
Our friendship is ‘Morning Chil’ ‘.
Always saying ‘I’m going on’ at the end of the day and  ‘Night, night sleep tight’ every night before bed.
Friendship was larking and laughing. Riding in ‘chariots’, chasing froglets, hoovering artificial grass and delivering precious but forgotten Mother’s Day cards around our village.
Love is soothing  happy and sad tears. Tough love, advice and honesty even when it hurts.
Love is picking up the pieces, dusting thoughts and tidying minds.
Love is being a second mum but no less cherished than my first.
Love is a pork chop or chips n egg made with a crinkly cutter.
Love, support and comfort always spanned  the miles and the sea between us.
Love is having to say goodbye to my dearest friend but knowing that she will hold a place in my heart forever.

My what a wonderful difference one single life can make.

Our friend was at the heart and soul of this village, born in no2 Little Court, then when she married her beloved Sean she upped sticks and moved no 3 Little Court  where she happily saw out the rest of her days, not that she`d not have a good moan when it was needed she was honest and forthright, you knew where you stood, never shy of putting you straight but more often than not it was laughter you heard from this house.

She loved her husband , wrapping her arms around him the squeeze of a woman who`s found her place in the world and knew exactly where she wanted to be, he was one lucky man.

You all were lucky, Broadwindsor was lucky, she`d taken herself off to foreign lands to earn a bob or two , working at Guppy`s of Bridport, The Pines of Beaminster , Van Heusen s of Crewkerne, but was none too impressed, there`s something to be said for knowing you mind and following your heart and Sues brought her straight back home to first work in the shop in Broadwindsor for a fair few years, until September 1st 1983 when she first rolled up her sleeves and set too in sorting our Broadwindsor Primary School, that`s everyone pupils and staff alike, initially as a dinner lady then as a cleaner, caretaker and key holder,  the place where she saw out her working life, 33 years she devoted to your school, to your children, most likely to you, and even your parents, yep and league`s of fresh faced teachers too, who learnt more from our Sue than any text book or collage, as we have heard from her dear friend Anna , Sue was not just employed at that school she was that school.
And she took her pastoral responsibilities most seriously , so much so that she had to rope her pal Vanessa into sharing the cleaning with her, to free up more time to sort out the teachers complicated lives, her pearls of wisdom were in constant demand.
She loved kids, all kids , they made her laugh, do you think she had any idea just what a positive difference she had to all those little tackers lives, they loved Miss, everyone of them.
Remember her Tabard that classic uniform of a hard working woman of a certain era . intent on getting a job done, no messing, her pockets full of biscuit crumbs, from custard creams nicked from Becky`s lunch box.
Yes she was no Angel, Sue could be a right bugger, set her mind on something nothing got in her way, you`d be a fool to wouldn’t you, there was passion and spirit about her.
Loved her garden, growing her own prize winning veg, no Leeks rivalled Sue`s nor her tenderly nurtured Fuchsias that showed with pride at the   Horticultural Show, though truth be told her husband grew them , though she watered them now and again.
She was a bit of an oracle in the village , nothing slipped past our Sue,  she could keep Mum though, many a tale she takes to the grave.

Now read on behalf of Vanessa,

Never forgotten-

I think of things you used to say

And all that you would do,

At some point, every single day,

My thoughts will turn to you.

To lose you was a bitter wrench,

The pain cut to my core.

I cried until my tears ran out

And then I cried some more.

This wouldn’t be your wish for me

That I’d be forever sad

So I try to remind myself

Of the happy times we had.

I know I can’t be with you now

And you can’t be with me

But safe inside my heart you’ll stay,

That’s where you’ll always be.

“Thank you Vanessa , I`m sure that most people here today will identify with those poignant words, when we met to plan today Vanessa was very clear that it was not about her, she was adamant about that, it`s not about me she said again and again, I can see why she and Sue were such close friends, two very strong will straight talking women.
But I too can be strong willed, so I will override that instruction just briefly,and say loud and clear that this gathering would not have happened with out you, your efforts and determination to honour and say goodbye to your dear friend Sue.
Thank you, and to all those who have supported you in making today so special, and of course thank you Sue Riggs, for living a life that has been such a joy to revisit in this village hall in the place you called home.
I`ll now share a prayer

The Death Of Someone We Love

The death of someone we love and care about

Is like the death of part of us.

No one else will ever call out from within us

Quite the same responses, the same feelings or actions or ideas.

Their death is an ending of one part of a story.


Lord as we look back over Sue’s life

We ask what we have received, what we can appropriate

And continue on in our own lives and what must be laid to rest.


Our love for her reminds us that our sharing

In one another’s lives brings both support and pain.

Our being parted from her reminds us of our own mortality

And that your love is enduring.


We thank you that our love for Sue draws us together

And gives us a new appreciation of one another

And of the beauty and fragility of relationships

Which mirror your grace and goodness to us.


Lord, time’s tide may wash her footprints from the shore

But not our love for her nor the influence of her life upon our own

Nor the ways in which they will ever be a sign for us

Of those things which really matter-which are eternal.

Hear this prayer for your love’s sake.


Helen continued, “At the beginning of her beloved husband Seans funeral, Sue walked into the church to Vanessa singing Lay The Blanket On The Ground, saying that to hear her friends voice would remind her of happy days dancing with her hubby at Royal Oak.”

Thanks were given and those present shared some tea, home made sandwiches, delicious cakes and their memories of Sue.

Anyone wishing to donate in memory of Sue can do so by contributing to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance HERE.


Suzette Riggs
25.08.1946 – 14.04.2022



Celebration Of Life For Suzette Riggs

You are invited by Suzette’s family to join them at the Comrades Hall, Broadwindsor on Friday 27th May, 2pm-4.30pm to remember and celebrate the life of Suzette Riggs.


If Someone Dies . . .
Suzette, Sue to her friends, sadly died last month at her son’s home in Bournemouth and a cremation service has already taken place.
On 25th August, 1946 Sue was born at No. 2 Little Court, Broadwindsor.  When she married, Sue moved house… into No. 3 Little Court! She never left.
Suzette worked at ‘the old village shop’ in the Square for many years before starting at Broadwindsor school on 1st September 1983, first as a dinner lady and then as a cleaner.  33 years Sue worked there, cleaning the school for the last time on Friday, 30th September, 2016, therefore many, many former pupils, as well as teachers will fondly remember ‘Mrs. Riggs’.

Anyone wishing to donate in memory of Sue can do so by contributing to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance HERE.

Our condolences and prayers go out to the family.

Suzette Riggs
25.08.1946 – 14.04.2022



Bob Wills’ Family Say Thank You

Bob Wills’ family would like to express their deep gratitude to everyone who was able to attend his memorial on Friday 6th of May. To see so many of his local friends, and hear how loved he was, was a great comfort to us all. The day felt to be a genuine celebration of a life well-lived. ”

“We would like to give special thanks to Bridget and Katie for their beautiful violin and cello pieces at the funeral service, and to Brian for his wonderful organ music. Thank you to Liz and Megan for their beautiful floral decoration of the church, and to Lynne, Val and John for their splendid transformation of the village hall. Thank you to John also for his moving and fitting tribute – and for his shirt! ”

Bob will be greatly missed by us all, but his spirit will live on in Broadwindsor. Thank you.”

Kind regards,
Rob Wills


Celebrating Bob Wills

A beautiful service was held at St. John the Baptist Church yesterday afternoon for Bob Wills who died last month.

A violin and double bass played by Bridget Pearse and Katie Chantler welcomed people as they arrived at the church, creating an ambient atmosphere.

Tributes to Bob were first made by his family and began with his granddaughter, Jess:

“Describing Grandad’s life is pretty daunting, especially in front of an audience.  Luckily Grandma has helped, so I’d like to read her account of the first time they met…”

Vic Cook mentioned a name I did not know, “Bob Wills”.

“Who’s Bob Wills?” I asked.

“Don’t you know him? He’s unique,” said Vic.

Ten minutes later, Bob Wills came up the stairs and we were introduced. I looked with curiosity at this “unique” person, my future husband.

Bob was a little taller than myself. He had thick, straight, floppy black hair, and dark blue eyes with unusually long, curling black eyelashes. He was muscular and deep-chested in build, very masculine.

Covering this “hunk” of a man was a very odd garment. He was wearing a bulky, belted brown overcoat, with a pattern of large purple squares outlined on the fabric. Later he told me, with pride, that he bought it in a sale at a very good price. To my fashion-conscious self this coat made Bob “unique” indeed.

His great gift was and remains an immense practicality:  he understands how things work, and can make or mend anything from an engine, to a fine china cup.  He leans not to the academic but to the creative and practical.  Added to this is a great persistence in seeing a project through.   Where others might abandon a task, or tire of it, he will finish it, however long it takes.

Also he is blessed with fine physical health and enduring stamina; and he was a good swimmer and footballer, and rode a motor-bike. He played the piano “by ear”, truly a man of many talents.

            At seventeen, however, I have to own that I did not recognise, or analyse, these attributes.  I did not know what a fine father and grandfather I was selecting for my children.  I did not have enough experience of life to understand the true value of these qualities.  It was simpler than that.  Some instinct in me sensed the calibre of the man; he was right for me and we were meant to be together.

Bob’s daughter Kate followed and spoke the following:

A message for all the Chrysalis members – Bob sends his apologies that he won’t be here this afternoon, he accepted another invitation

Dad was born in 1930 to Rita and Frank and sister Jacqueline.  From our own experiences of our grandparents and great grandparents it was a loving family, and he grew up close to his cousins, it was always Terry, Bobby, and Barry.  Dad did well at school, but he was also mischievous and told (often) of how he climbed on the roof of the school to get to the water tank.  That day all the water in the school ran blue… he assured us the dye was harmless.

Graduating from London U in 1953 his first job was at Harwell Atomic research, near Oxford where mum, by that time his fiancée, was studying, but he was there less than two years before he was offered a job in Trinidad.  With Chris still in her last year of her degree they had to make some fast decisions.  In less than a month a wedding was organised, on a very damp day in November, just a few days before Bob flew off to Trinidad to start his new job – as a physicist, in the research labs at Trinidad oil company.

Trinidad was a fun time for the newly-weds, and they spent three years there.  To their delight Nicola was born in March 1957, then in November that year they went back to the UK for home leave and with a second child on the way, they decided to stay. I was born in 1958, and two years later Robert completed our family.

Dad worked at Elliot Brothers as a Chief Engineer developing analysis instruments, before moving on to Tecnicon, where he became an expert on their Auto Analyser, which tested blood samples and was used in large hospitals and labs around the world. He travelled a good deal to the States, Europe, Moscow and Hong Kong to deal with technical issues and train others.  He learnt to programme as they incorporated computers into their work.  Dad’s career culminated in starting his own company in 1985, Wessex Instrumentation, with a colleague Don.  They successfully developed a smaller version of the autoanalyzer, the Compact Ten, that could be affordable to smaller hospitals and labs, and eventually sold the company in 1992.  He stayed on working as a consultant, and as an engineer for a company in Winchester.

Although a talented engineer with a lot of common-sense Dad had his moments.  He could be absent minded.  Jim (colleague) tells us Dad once flew to Madrid and wondered why he wasn’t met at the airport.  It seems he should have gone to Milan.  Close…ish.  And once he packed his passport and then checked his bag in.  It flew to London without him.

Family life with young children had its challenges, and at one point they were 40 minutes from shops with two babies, no car, a long bus strike, no washing machine and no fridge, and Dad had to spend a lot of time commuting.  But as Dad said, we were a close family, and happy.  My parents big treat was a small bottle of cider at weekends.

Dad worked hard at work and hard at home.  He spent weekends under cars, painting, building fireplaces and shelves, gardening… eventually when we moved to Jonathan’s Thatch transforming it to a beautiful family home.

Still he was a fun Dad.  He brought us sweets on Friday night, and would romp and play with us.  We loved our donkey rides to bed (on his back as he crawled up the stairs) and the tree house and swing he built.  He loved games – Christmas charades were hilarious with Dad and Uncle Frank.  He played the piano, told limericks and sang daft songs.

As a grandad too he was fun – in his 80s he would disappear into the bushes playing hide and seek and Ethan and Jack loved it when Grandad joined them bodyboarding in the Cornish surf.

Caring, generous and kind he gave us all his time and nurtured our talents.  I have been lucky enough to inherit his logical brain and he taught me that if you look and think about things you can usually work out how they work, and then you know how to fix them.  He once fixed my car with a squashed coke can which kept it going for months, to the surprise of the garage mechanics.

He was more than my Dad, he was my friend.  We learned to ski together, shared a love of science fiction, discussed maths, physics (him far more competent than me) and puzzles and parallel universes.  He never ceased to amaze me with the way he thought about the universe, its problems and wonders to the last.

Mum used to call him a saint – mostly.  Dad told us firmly that he didn’t like eulogies that make people sound all saintlike, so we have compiled a list of some of his less saintlike qualities.”

Kate then handed over to her brother Rob:

One family dinnertime Dad was so exasperated with us bickering as children that he erupted, flinging the bowl of cabbage he was holding in the air.  Some stuck determinedly to the ceiling. It was effective at the time, we were all rather quiet, but after our initial shock the ceiling cabbage  became a family joke.

He could never believe in his own absent-mindedness.  Burnt toast was a regular feature in our house, and somehow he was always surprised when he did it again.

Sometimes he and Mum were practical to a fault, wanting us to leave before the finale of a concert to avoid the crowds, because everyone else would leave… when it ended.

He always thought when dinner was on the table and everyone else was seated was the perfect time for him to do the washing up.

He was very bad at keeping track of time, and it wasn’t unusual for him to be an hour late for dinner from a trip to the shed, or surprise us all with an impromptu keyboard performance at 1am.

In fact he was just very bad at being on time…  I see he hasn’t arrived yet.

His determination could stray into frustrating stubbornness.

He wasn’t good at getting rid of anything.  He followed us to the dump after a clear-out and started taking things out of the boot because that particular broken plastic tub might come in useful one day.

He liked to be useful, but he would rush things, and it would end in disaster – there’s a reason he learned to glue china back together.  He mowed the cable of an electric mower the first time he used it, and grumpily declared anyone would have done the same (Kate had used it for months without issue)… of course he immediately fixed it.

We’ll miss his occasional disasters, his stubbornness and his unique timekeeping just as much as his other qualities.

As you have heard, my father was a well-accomplished and hugely practical man who could turn his hand to almost anything.  His mind was forever creative and problem solving, and he always had a project.  His 80th birthday treat to himself was to build a porch. For his 91st he built a summerhouse.  But what has been so striking about the conversations, messages and letters since Dad became ill, is the frequency with which people talk of his kindness, warmth, gentle nature, and willingness to help.

They had a knack not just for finding good friends, but for keeping them too.  Everywhere they went they collected good people, built strong friendships, and stayed in touch.  His Christmas card list was extensive, and a lot of you have managed to be here.

At Elliotts he met Coppy Laws who became, with his wife and family, a close and lifelong friend.  It was through Coppy that Dad and Mum were introduced to The Institute for Cultural Research and Idris Shah, something that played a major role in their lives. As children we found it odd but interesting that they were suddenly spending time dressing puppets, though we later understood their use.  Dad contributed a great deal to ICR over the years, and did a lot of practical work at the Langton headquarters.  The friends they made there lasted, and greatly enriched their lives.

They came to Broadwindsor in 1998, unsure if it was to be a long term move, but quickly grew to love the village and their new friends.  Dad eventually retired from work, but not from being busy, and it was delightful to see them enjoying life together in the amazing community they found here.

His concern for others endured to the very end. In his final weeks in the hospice he was still worrying about where his visitors could go for refreshment when they left – giving carefully considered suggestions and detailed directions for getting there. In the days before he died, with others forever in his thoughts, he asked us to say goodbye to all his lovely family and friends. People felt that to be his friend was a privilege, and I find this both comforting and inspiring.

I think a quote I read recently captures this: “the quality of your life ultimately depends on the quality of your relationships. Not on your achievements, not on how smart you are, not on how rich you are. But on the quality of your relationships, which are basically a reflection of your sense of decency, your ability to think of others, your generosity”. This is how my dad will be remembered – as a gentle  man and a gentleman.”

The final tribute came from Bob’s close friend, John Staff:

Bob didn’t care for flattery so he’d not like what I’m about to say.

Theodore Robert Wills or just Bob.  He told me he was Bobby at primary school and when I asked why he was called Bob he said he was getting ribbed at the higher school so changed it from Bobby to Bob.  He said his mother always called him Bobby and didn’t remember how it came about but never Theo or Theodore.

Bob was the most generous man I know, generous with his time, his kindness and his hospitality and you couldn’t wish for a better friend as I’m sure many of you can testify.   We along with other friends have spent many hours in his company making wonderful memory’s.  Eating cheese on toast in the early hours after being kicked out of the pub.  His wonderful company at dinner parties.  He once walked off in his host’s shoes, not remembering where he’d taken his off. He did say they were a little tight and looked cleaner.  They belonged to Charles Lawrence.

His hospitality knew no bounds, for a few years while at Island house he would host a BBQ for our Bowls Group but everyone he met once the date had been decided would be invited, so often half the village turned up.  His involvement with Bowls Club is legendary, often throwing himself further down the mat than his wood.  On the clubs numerous trips to London it was he who organised the hotel accommodation and all of us would fight to stop him trying to paying the bill.  His last Bar-B-Q was at West View last year were we played bowls in his back garden in the rain and because it was much smaller than Island House he organised two events to make sure he could entertain all his friends.

Bob’s involvement with Comrades Hall was a passion of his.  He was on the management committee for years and some time Chair.  He was the go to man for the sound system.  He was responsible for installing the hearing loop for the deaf and setting up of all the existing speakers.  He was also pivotal in the setting up of the film club.  Bob’s enthusiasm is legendary he would spend hours at the hall sorting out problems and if any one needed help he’d be there.  He wouldn’t let any problem stump him always coming up with ingenious solutions.  The school often called on him to help with the sound for their Christmas Play.

Bob always had to have a project.  He was always making something or other, building or repairing something.

I found him one day tottering on top a of a ladder in his kitchen.  He was problem solving.  He kept bumping his head on the wall cupboard doors so decided a roller blind instead of doors was the answer. That’s it, he’s finally gone completely bonkers.  I decided to humour him and helped cut the hole in the side to allow the chain to rise and lower the blind.——-  To my astonishment It worked,— perfectly,  and is still working,  and solved the problem.  Kate was hoping he might have chosen a new blind and not the scruffy one he’d found in the garage.  That was Bob.  If you have seen his shed in the front garden all made of recycle doors and windows from the house not to forget the old pallets left over from the garden renovation. It’s a master class in recycling.  He once turned up at a Chrysalis meeting toting a strange box with wires dangling, another solution to a problem. He’d made a contraption that sat on the table and would allow him the to hear all the conversations.  He said the acoustics were terrible in the room we held the meeting.  Eventually he got hearing aids.  But had to try his own device first.

Bob was also a founder member of the Chrysalis investment club named after his wife Christine whose idea it was.  Over the past couple of years, we have had to resort to Zoom for our meetings.      Now!  Bob was the cleverest man I have known but when it came to mobiles or tablets not so much.  In the dozen or so times we have used Zoom, Bob has only appeared once and it was such as  a shock I took a screen shot, all other times we had a disembodied voice but he always moaned he couldn’t hear us but would never put his hearing aid in.   A club without his presence will be a sadly diminished but he will always be remembered. If for nothing else, then. Hydrogen!  Another story.

He only decided a month ago to retire from the club stating it will make things less complicated for the family.  That was Bob, kind and thoughtful. He never forgot your birthday and if you helped him in any way a small gift in the way of a plant, bottle of wine or sweets would mysteriously turn up on your doorstep.

There are dozens of stories left to tell and I’m sure most of you who knew Bob have a favourite.

I saw Bob two day before he died and he thanked Rob his son and myself for arranging the wonderful images he was seeing and asked me if everyone got this.  I told him that only special people got it.

If you’re up there Bob,  You where special.

I’m going to miss you so much.”

Those gathered, applauded.

Afterwards at the Comrades Hall, friends and family gathered and enjoyed delicious catering by Linda Paget from the Stableyard Restaurant. Stories were shared and a collection of photographs of Bob and memorabilia which included an item that Bob was responsible for creating…

For those wishing to make a donation in Bob’s memory, please visit the Weldmar Hospice HERE.

❤ Farewell Bob & Thank you ❤

Theodore Robert Wills, “Bob”
26.08.1930 – 13.04.2022


Bob Wills Memorial Service

There will be a service to celebrate the life of Bob Wills on Friday 6th May, 2pm at St. John the Baptist Church, Broadwindsor.

Bob died peacefully at Weldmar Hospice on 13th April with his daughter, Kate at his side. Kate has requested the following:

“You are warmly invited to join us afterwards at Broadwindsor Comrades Hall.
We are aiming to put together some photos, memories and anecdotes about Dad and how he touched our lives.  We would welcome any thoughts or recollections you would like to share.
If you can let us know if you will be able to attend that would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks,”

Kate, Rob, Nikki

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kate & family.

26.08.1930 – 13.04.2022