Posted: 12.06.20 at 15:15 by Philip Evans
Axminster bid a fond but tearful farewell to three-times mayor Douglas Hull this afternoon.
Dozens of people, including civic and community leaders, friends and neighbours, gathered in Trinity Square and on The MInster Green to pay their last respects tothe councillor who served the town for more than 50 years.
The hearse containing a wicker coffin pulled in front of The Minster shortly before 1 pm, led by funeral director Simon Searle from J. F. Clarke & Son. The coffin was adorned with floral tributes, the blooms for which were gathered by well-wishers earlier in the week and made into bouquets by the Mayor of Axminster, Cllr Anni Young, a friend and confidante of Douglas.
Just as St Mary's church clock struck one, the Team Rector, the Reverend Clive Sedgewick, called on the gathering to observe a period of silence in memory of the man often referred to as "Mr Axminster" - Douglas Rueben Henry Hull, to give him his full name.
After a prayer and reading of a poem, "Not How Did He Die, But How Did He Live", by an unknown author, the back of the hearse was opened for people to pay their respects.
These were led by Cllr Young, who was visibly moved by the ceremony. There followed dozens more from town councillors and staff, members of East Devon District Council, Axminster Heritage Centre volunteers, representatives from local charities, friends and neighbours.
As the hearse then pulled away to take the coffin to the East Devon crematorium at Whimple, the gathering clapped in Douglas' memory until the vehicle disappeared out of site down West Street.
The hearse also stopped briefly outside the Guildhall where a small group paid their respects.
It was a dignified but emotional send-off for a man who had given his life to Axminster, serving as a town, district and county councillor and who was honoured by being made at Honorary Alderman of Devon.
Clusters of those present remained in Trinity Square after the coffin had left, no doubt recalling that the town would never see the likes of Douglas again.
Only a limited number were allowed to attend the funeral service due to the coronavirus restrictions but those who were not able to go to the crematorium were able to watch the service virtually.