Ottery St Mary pays tribute to a selfless community hero and true gentleman
- Credit: Archant
Barry Fearn is remembered as a great man with a big smile, who had time for everyone
A selfless community hero and ‘true gentleman’, who would ‘do anything for anyone’, will be sadly missed by all in Ottery.
Barry Fearn died in Honiton Hospital on Thursday, November 17, at the age of 76, after a battle with cancer, and tributes have been pouring in to honour a great man, who was unfailingly generous and good-humoured to the end.
The much-loved father and grandfather was named Ottery’s Citizen of the Year in 2015 for his numerous acts of kindness and he was familiar to many as the ‘graffiti-busting’ hero who dedicated his time to making the town a better place.
Barry was born in Southend-on-Sea and, after a star-studded career in London’s most exclusive haunts, he retired to Ottery with his late wife, Audrey, in 2003 - on the couple’s 40th wedding anniversary.
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Barry’s son, Nick, said: “It was the sense of community that drew Mum and Dad to Ottery. They did lots of tea dances in The Institute and at Otter Nurseries. After Mum died, it was the community that got him up and out every day and gave him the will to carry on.
“I want to say thank-you to the people of Ottery - I know that people say he really helped the community, but I do not think they know just how much they helped him. He loved Ottery and he loved the people of Ottery and he was proud to be here.”
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Barry had no television, internet or mobile phone, but treated his community as his world.
During his career as a head cocktail manager in top London hotspots, such as St James’s Club, Barry rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous – and one of his favourite claims to fame was dancing with Ginger Rogers.
The humble nature-lover and engine enthusiast spent family holidays in Devon or Cornwall, with Audrey and his two sons, Nick and Matt.
Matt said: “He was just a fantastic individual, not just as a father but as a friend and he would inconvenience himself to help others. Even when he was on his deathbed, he joked with the nurses.”
He reminisced on the flash floods of 2008 when Barry’s spirit shone through and – despite his own home being struck, he loaned the property to BBC Spotlight so they could film live from the scene.
Barry soon went from flood victim to star as he danced with a popular broadcaster.
Tony and Brenda Rhodes, long-term friends of Barry’s, said: “He was a very good friend and unfailingly generous and warm-hearted - the world is a worse place for his loss.
“We worked together running the bar in the parish church and for various charity events. Barry always did it with a smile on his face.”
Mayor Glyn Dobson said: “He was a great man. There was nothing that was too much trouble for him and he will be sadly missed in the town.”
Myra and John Campion, of Seasons Tea Rooms, said: “He was in and out of this café from day one. If there was anything you wanted done, he would do it.”
Friend and tourist information manager Phyllis Baxter said: “He was a true gentleman who had time for everyone – he always had a great big smile and loved a joke.
“He did so much for the town that he loved. We shall miss him so much. I shall never forget all the kindness and help he gave me.”
Neighbours John and Rita Martin said: “He was a brilliant neighbour who was always there for us. He had time for everyone. He was one of the nicest people you could meet and he would do anything for anybody.”
Barry’s family was full of praise for the ‘truly fantastic’ staff at Honiton Hospital for all the care and attention they devoted to him.
They also thanked the Coleridge Medical Centre team for their care.