The life of Bill Parish

The life of Bill Parish

The life of Bill Parish

First published in Celebrating

Former Dauntsey’s School teacher and supporter of Wiltshire Music Centre, Bill Parish, of West Lavington, has died, aged 79.

Mr Parish was born in Wokingham in March 1935 and was educated at various schools as a result of his family moving around frequently.

His initial aim was to join the Navy and at the age of 17 he was training to become a naval officer, achieving various distinctions and awards in the process, but to his great dismay he was found to be suffering from spinal problems, resulting in his being invalided out of the service.

Despite this disappointment he resolved then to pursue academic aims, returned to take his A-levels and then gained a degree in mathematics at Cardiff University.

Still undecided about his future, he tentatively applied for a post as mathematics teacher at Dauntsey’s, West Lavington, in 1963 and was duly appointed. In this role he achieved considerable success and in 1966 he was appointed head of mathematics at the school.

He became involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities, one of which was to have particular significance in the life of the school.

In response to the suggestions of some boys that, despite living so far from the sea, they might form a sailing club, with Mr Parish’s prompting an advertisement appeared in various newspapers on the south coast offering weekend labour on boats in return for a week’s sailing in the holidays.

Happily, a retired commander in the Navy took up the suggestion by the offer of his boat Griffin, as a consequence of which the Dauntsey’s Sailing Club became established. Inevitably the enthusiasm and activity grew until the late 1970s when the club, in co-operation with the Exeter Maritime Museum, came to use a famous boat, the Jolie Brise, which had on three occasions won the Fastnet race.

Since then it has often participated in the Tall Ships Races.

That the Sailing Club and its activities still flourish is largely due to his imagination and enthusiasm.

Mr Parish was an inspiring teacher and influence within the school until his retirement in 1995, at which point he put his other great love – music – to good effect, particularly in his support for the school’s music, as well as the Devizes Eisteddfod where he became for some years the treasurer.

Although his part as a performer was limited to learning and playing the trombone in the school orchestra, he was a regular supporter of the Wiltshire Music Centre at Bradford on Avon and of such events as the Bath Mozart Festival, especially in his retirement years.

He was also closely involved in the West Lavington Care Group where, for many years, he bore the brunt of finding drivers to provide transport to hospitals and other places when the need arose.

Mr Parish died after a short illness on August 20 – a loss not only to his wife Anne, their four sons and seven grandchildren, but also to so many of his former pupils who had remained his friends.

His funeral service is on Tuesday at All Saints Church, West Lavington, at noon.

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