Tributes to ‘true Sidmothian’ who never wanted to leave

Sidmothian Gerald Counter, who died at the age of 86

Sidmothian Gerald Counter, who died at the age of 86 - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a familiar face and a ‘true Sidmothian’ who tried to ensure his stories would not be lost when he went.

Gerald Counter died in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital last Thursday at the age of 86.

His family are left with memories of a man who loved life and lived it to the full, who knew everyone and will surely be missed.

“He was Sidmouth through and through – he lived in the town all his life and never wanted to move away,” said his daughter Olwen.

“I will remember him as a strong man who always enjoyed life and talking to people.”

Gerald had wanted to donate his body to medical science to help the fight against motor neurone disease (MND) from which he suffered, but the offer was declined.

To the end he was working with his friend, Julian King, to record his stories about Sidmouth – a book Gerald was unable to complete alone as his condition took hold.

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His autobiography, A life in Sidmouth, begins with his birth in a Mill Street school – a site now called Counters Court – through to his time working as an engineer for South West Water and pastimes keeping bees, catching shrimp and going on walks. His job took him into houses across the Sid Valley and fed his love of meeting colourful characters, ranging from the owner of Sidbury Manor to a former editor of the Sidmouth Herald.

Gerald was a loving husband to Vera, and the couple barely spent a day apart in more than 60 years of marriage.

He leaves Vera, daughters Olwen and Susan, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A service will be held in Sidmouth Unitarian Church on Thursday, June 27.

The book of his memories is set to be published over the summer.