When walking the Gloucestershire Way last year, I called at Don Hunter's workshop in Shipton Oliffe. We haven't had any need for furniture repair for a year or two, but over more than three decades Don had always been our man when something antique needed fixing properly: surely nobody took more care or can have been more respected.
Besides our professional contact over the years, I counted Don amongst my oldest friends, having met him in 1973 at North Farm House soon after I arrived in the neighbouring parish of Sevenhampton. Through his trademark smiles and just a few words, I have been able to follow the blooming of his marriage to Pauline, and of the welling pride he had in Andrew, their only child.
That day in March 2009 Don was with a customer: I told his colleague Carl that I was on a mission and wouldn't dally. So I moved over the road to pay a quick visit to St Oswald's before walking on through the village.
Don wasn't tied up for long, however, and came running across to the church after me. "You look different," I said. "Yes, my hair has gone curly: I've been in hospital," he explained, "for Treatment." Of course I knew what this must mean, but Don was in no mood to yield to self-pity. Indeed, he was his usual optimistic self, full of trust in the God he had long known so well and personally.
In Saturday's Gloucestershire Echo, his death was announced - "peacefully, at home.. Wonderful husband... much loved father... dearly loved by many." That last certainly includes me.