Tributes to Navy commander who penned plays in Branscombe

Mementoes from each of Paul Haines' commissions while he was in the Royal Navy

Mementoes from each of Paul Haines' commissions while he was in the Royal Navy - Credit: Archant

A Royal Navy commander who was dispatched all over the world before retiring to write plays and pantos in Branscombe was smiling to the end.

Paul Haines

Paul Haines - Credit: Archant

Paul Haines also pushed for green initiatives that are cutting costs at the village hall and a new clubhouse for the cricket club.

He died on June 2 at the age of 85. His funeral was held last week.

Paul followed his father into the navy, taking a scholarship at the age of 13 to the Britannia Royal Naval College, better known as Dartmouth. It had previously been the reserve of public schoolboys and had at the time been evacuated to Chester.

From there he went to the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. He met wife Ann when Ann’s brother, also at the college, brought Paul home. He was 20 and she was 18. They would be wed for 62 years.

Paul Haines early in his career in the Royal Navy

Paul Haines early in his career in the Royal Navy - Credit: Archant

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Ann joined her husband when he was deployed to Malta, New Zealand and Washington, DC, but mostly stayed at home to raise their three daughters, Jane, Sue and Sara. She now has five grandchildren.

It was while Paul was in the navy, mainly on aircraft carriers, that he started writing plays – the crews could watch films but preferred to watch each other on stage in the so-called ‘sods operas’.

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He served for 35 years and reached the rank of commander.

“He retired two years early because he didn’t want to push paper at the Ministry of Defence,” said Ann, who lives in Weston. “Writing plays was different – it was more fun.

“The Branscombe Players couldn’t find plays to suit the characters they had so he wrote plays for the characters available. He liked to poke fun at those in politics.

“He helped get a new roof put on the village hall with 35 solar panels and also suggested they install a ground-source heat pump. It’s been very successful.”

She added: “People will remember Paul for the work he did in Branscombe and the concerns he took on. He was full of wit and laughter.”

Paul spent his last months in Sidmouth Nursing Home, where he was known as ‘the smiling one’. Ann praised the staff’s compassion and the quality of their care.

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