A Tribute To Don Nunneley

Don Nunneley, a much-loved former President of Cranleigh Rotary, passed away recently. Here is an appreciation of his long and fruitful life from our President, David Barry.

Levels of social and community activity take on new values when one looks at Don’s long-term inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm, not least of which was his obvious passion for ….….. yes, you guessed, Barn Dance Calling. In addition, however, sport, youth clubs, Cranleigh Youth Band, a member of Bonfire Boys, an organiser of village fetes for more than 30 years, a church warden, a school governor, foreign travel and cruises, have also played major parts in his life, not to mention his almost 50 years working in ‘The Treacle Works’ (as termed by his brother, Norman) down Knowle Lane.

Don’s links with the ‘Cranleigh area’ commenced when he was less than two years old and his family moved from Southend-on-Sea to a house on St Nicolas Avenue, built by his father. He attended Guildford Grammar School from the age of nine and was, as only recently discovered by his family, quite sporty! There he made several life-long friends; indeed, he attended Old Guildfordian events right up until the Covid pandemic stopped activities.
After his Secondary education he trained as an industrial chemist at Guildford Technical College. Following in his father’s footsteps Don joined the Air Defence Cadet Corps during WW2. He would often cycle to Dunsfold Airfield because, being in uniform, they allowed him onto the base where pilots used to take him up in their planes. Indeed, several times he flew in the WW2 gliders that were being tested there for D-Day. He was too young to be called up in WW2 and spent his National Service in the RAF as a radio fitter and participated in the famous Berlin Airlift in 1948/49.

In the early 1950s he was very much involved in the newly established ‘Over 17s’ youth club which became the centre of entertainment in Cranleigh. There he met and subsequently married Daphne; many future marriages, apparently, began on the dance floor at the Over 17s!
Also, it was here that Don first began his ‘barn dance calling’, something which he would enjoy throughout his life and which would also bring a great deal of merriment to many groups, clubs, charities and parties far and wide. His innumerable barn dance evenings raised much money for umpteen organisations and charities, many of which were so successful that they would be repeated again and again, with the same weekends booked year after year.

A few years before Don’s retirement, The Treacle Works was converted to a brick manufacturing plant to take advantage of the clay available on site. So, rather than move elsewhere in order to use his industrial chemistry skills, he retrained and was then appointed manager of the brick production plant until his retirement in the early ‘90s.

Just a few days after commencing his retirement he and Daphne booked a trip to Madeira, and so started their rigorous travel pattern for several years that covered California, Australia, New Zealand, and many European river and sea cruises. In addition, of course, there were many Garden Club holidays. Nonetheless, he also found time to drive ‘old people’ around for health care within the village, even though he was often older than they were!

Finally, on a Cranleigh Rotary theme, he was a long-term member of the club and was Club President in 1998-99. Moreover, he was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship for his fundraising efforts in helping raise significant financial aid for Shelterbox, an international disaster relief charity that provides emergency shelter and other aid items to families around the world who have lost their homes through disasters or conflicts.

He will be sadly missed across many sectors of the community and, of course, by Daphne, their sons Paul and Mark, and their families. 
Many thanks to Paul Nunneley for providing the background details on which this eulogy was created.
David Barry.