Tributes to war veteran Bill

THE FAMILY of a popular Sidmouth war veteran have paid tribute to a loving husband and father - and told of how the proud Yorkshire man came to love his adopted home of half-a-century.

William ‘Bill’ Craven, 87, was a dedicated member of the Sidmouth Royal Naval Old Comrade Association and numerous clubs and organisations.

Scores of friends he made through his numerous activities attended a celebration of his life at the parish church last Friday. Bill died on December 3.

“His contribution to Sidmouth, which he loved, was broad and spanned all decades,” said his son, Colin.

“He was a proud Yorkshireman but would also like to be regarded as a Sidmothian!”

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Leeds-born Bill joined the Royal Navy as a torpedoman at the age of 17.

He served for four years on a number of warships experiencing anti U-Boat actions, the D-Day landings and hazardous minesweeping duties after the hostilities.

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Bill brought his family to Sidmouth in 1962 and a lifelong friendship began when they lodged with Dorothy and Larry Jackson.

A successful business partnership in the repair of electrical domestic appliances also blossomed - with ‘Craven and Jackson’ lasting for many years.

The Cravens set up home in Winslade Road and Bill quickly got himself involved with the town’s rugby and cricket clubs.

He was also introduced to the Arts Club - whose musical productions at the Manor Pavilion at Easter were eagerly awaited by the town during the ’60s and ’70s. Playing the lead role of Tevye in the 1978 production of Fiddler on the Roof was Bill’s personal highlight.

His Royal Naval service naturally prompted Bill to join the old comrade association and his involvement in the early ‘60s helped breathe new life into the group. He was to go on to serve the association passionately throughout the decades - which fittingly culminated in him, as president, being the guest of honour at this year’s Annual Trafalgar Day Dinner as the association celebrated its centenary. His fellow comrades provided a guard of honour at his funeral.

Bill brought an end to an active and accomplished participation in sport, which began at the age of eight, when he retired from umpiring cricket at 83.

His 50 years in the town also saw him actively involved with the conservative, war memorial and bowling clubs, the Parochial Church Council, St Nicholas School board of governors and the men’s forum.

Bill was a member of Budleigh Male Voice Choir for 15 years. They sang in his honour during last Friday’s service. Bill is survived by his wife of 59 years, Gladys, and their two sons, Colin and Paul.

“None of the activities once distracted him from being a loving husband and father,” added Colin.

Members of Sidmouth Men’s Forum stood for a minute’s silence in Bill’s memory at a recent meeting.

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