Remembering David

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Above: White roses for Yorkshire and a pair of David’s crocs on the table in the Meeting House for David’s Memorial Meeting. This display was created by Liz Burrage who also led the Memorial Meeting. Many thanks to those who donated a total of £530 to Yorkshire Air Ambulance in David’s memory. 

David certainly did live up to the advice in the Quaker Advices and Queries which states: Live adventurously. When choices arise, do you take the way that offer the fullest opportunity for the use of your gifts in the service of God and the community? Let your life speak.”

Becoming a Quaker in 2004 made a significant and very positive impact upon him  -but he had lived up to that advice for most of his life.

He was born in Sheffield  in October 1941 where his father worked as a  policeman. While David was at grammar school he represented the North of England at the Scout jamboree in North America in 1958.

At Alsager Teacher Training College he specialised in Design, Technology, Arts and Crafts and then took a job at the Sheffield School for Blind Children.

He and his young family moved to Norfolk  to the East Anglian School for Blind and Deaf Children in 1974. While there he also trained as a teacher of the deaf, gained an Open University degree and served for four years as a councillor on Yarmouth Borough Council.

When that school closed in 1985 he became deputy head of the Norfolk Sensory Support Service with responsibility for integrating  visually impaired  children into mainstream schools. He later became head of that Service.

One of his former work colleagues commented: “David was a larger than life character, loyal to his friends and co-workers – and knew the best places to stop for coffee! He gave us freedom to work with the families and came with me to visit homes if they thought there could be a problem – or something interesting such as the view of prostitutes on Rouen Road!

“He was a lecturer on my Cambridge course and had a wealth of knowledge of the VI (Visually Imparied) world.”

In 1989 David answered an appeal by Phil Feller to help blind and visually impaired children in The Gambia. This led to him becoming a founder trustee of what is now the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in The Gambia after going with Mr Feller to that country to assess the need.

His list included setting up a purpose-built school;  proper training not only for the few teachers at that school but also mainstream teachers as the majority of visually impaired children were living in distant villages; and the provision of Braille machines and paper, as well as computers with specialist programmes.

Phil said: “David – with great enthusiasm – set to work with myself and my wife, Joan, to start meeting those needs. A charity was set up (now the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia) and funds were successful raised for building a special school.”

The school was opened in 2002 and whenever David visited he helped to teach the pupils and teachers there.  He worked closely with the Gambian Education Department and the Integrated Education Programme and by early 2019 over 200 mainstream teachers had been taught to help visually impaired students.

Phil added:  “A highlight for David was the purchase of a minibus in 2003 and, together with Malcolm Garner, drove to The Gambia with urgently needed equipment. Subsequently he organised and led several other overland deliveries.”

David met Malcolm when they were both members of the Special Educational Needs National Advisory Council. Of the overland journey in 2003 Malcolm said: “This experience had a life-changing impact for me as I was later to return to The Gambia on a regular basis to try and develop health and education services for deaf children and adults, something which continues to this day.

“David has left a very significant legacy of change for good among many pupils disadvantaged by limited or no sight, both in the UK and also in Africa, and also among professionals such as myself who have benefitted from his energy, initiative and enthusiasm.” (See his Gambian adventures )

David and Pip Land (his partner whom he married in July 2018) introduced Heather Ritchie of Rug Aid to The Gambia and she has subsequently set up one of the most successful programmes for visually impaired children and adults in that country.

After he retired David moved to Thornton Rust in Wensleydale in 2001. He became a volunteer at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes; enjoyed creative work as a member of the Yoredale Art Group; was an official of the North East Mercedes Benz Club for many years;  a president of the Rotary Club of Wensleydale, and was a trustee of the Kennel Field Trust at Thornton Rust.

Two weeks after he died villagers at Thornton Rust raised their glasses to him for all he had done for the Kennel Field Trust and as a local parishioner. (A special celebration at Thornton Rust)

He became a parish councillor for Thornton Rust in 2015 and one of his parishioners commented: “He was a very conscientious parish councillor and always available to the villagers, just to chat or to get jobs done.”

In the last few years of his life his main projects were turning round the Northallerton branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists to make it one of the most effective in the country (he was its chairman and one of its observers), and working with the West Burton School Representative Group to safeguard its future as part of a local three-school federation. (See West Burton – a school set to thrive and his view as an independent education consultant. )

To the latter he brought a wealth of experience of governing schools since he retired. He had served as a Quaker trustee on the board of Reeth Primary School, and as a governor of the Breckenbrough Quaker Foundation School.  He had also been a Local Education Authority governor on the board of Leeming and Londonderry  Primary School and Risedale Secondary School.

He was an active member of the Wensleydale and Swaledale Area Quaker Meeting and served for a few years as an elder.

In 2014 David decided to create two large poppies, Peace and Remembrance,  to mark the beginning of World War I. These were fixed to the railings at Bainbridge Meeting House in November each year, and then throughout 2018 up until the centenary of the end of that war. They became a significant landmark in Bainbridge.

Another important part of his life since 2007 was his 30ft cruiser, Edna May. Its moorings at Thurne opposite the white mill and various journeys on the Norfolk Broads were a source of constant delight to him as were the friends he met there.

His links with Thurne went back to the early 1970s and nothing pleased him more than being able to return there. In the last few years there was always the question of how much longer he could walk along the dyke to Edna May  as the effects of an old spinal injury took their toll.

On May 19 (2019)he again savoured that walk, stopping half the way down to do his “360” – turning slowly to enjoy every detail of the scenery. Then he walked on and managed to reach his boat and settle into his favourite seat before he died. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

………..

My tribute to my husband, David Pointon,  at the Memorial Meeting at Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House on Saturday, July 13, 2019:

David passionately believed that anyone with a disability should be able to live life to the full and adventurously.

His former work colleagues recount with delight how he encouraged his blind and visually impaired students to climb trees – something that probably wouldn’t be allowed now du e to health and safety rules. But those kids learnt a lot about what they could achieve.

When his dog, Raq, became blind David gave him mobility lessons too. And I was taught how to be a good guide person.

David approached his own increasing mobility problems in the same way. An old severe spinal injury led to him being unable to put his own shoes and socks on. And then he found…Crocs! Out went the shoes and socks and in marched Crocs – and  joyful independence.

They meant he could still walk down the dyke at Thurne to his beloved Norfolk cruiser Edna May – his glorified shed on water, spiders and all. That meant he could fettle to his heart’s content – either in his garage cum workshop at Thornton Rust or when on the boat.

He could still participate in overseas adventures – either the overland drives to the Gambia or later with his mate Ken to Morocco and France. And David and I could enjoy our journeys exploring Britain.

Many have commented on how much they enjoyed David’s sense of humour.

Our relationship began 14 years ago with a good laugh – and continued with lots more. For me ours was a special relationship. We accepted each other warts and all – two odd people thoroughly enjoying life together and supporting each other in our various interests and activities. He was my soul mate and my best friend.

I have many wonderful and very happy memories. Thank you David.

…………

David became a  close friend of John Warren through attending the Quaker meetings at Bainbridge and Countersett. Pip chose the following poem by John for David’s funeral. It was read by Allan Sharland who had been a friend of David and his brother Mike since they were teenagers.

Over the hill the grey road climbs

And the wind blusters over the hill

Tumbling the trees

And the grey road winds

Where hedges curve in ragged lines

And cærulean blue the bright sky shines

Where the road climbs over the hill

And I will go where the grey road leads

With the wind in my face at the crest

Where the curling road goes down and on

To the far blue hills in the west

And birds in the wind

Wheel and cry

The great elms bend, and creak

And sign

And the road goes on

And so shall I

To those far blue hills in the west.

2 thoughts on “Remembering David

  1. The above is a very moving tribute to a Dalesman. ( Be it an Adopted one )
    Thank you for allowing me to share it.

  2. Thank you for those words about David, a unique person. Along with his many achievements David was President of Wensleydale Rotary Club for 2010/11 – David might say it wasn’t his apex achievement but he was good to be with there.

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