Further tributes paid to ‘Mr Axminster’, Alderman Douglas Hull, ahead of his funeral

PUBLISHED: 18:15 09 June 2020 | UPDATED: 18:34 09 June 2020

Former Axminster mayor and councillor Douglas Hull. Ref exb 09-16SH 6444. Picture: Simon Horn

Former Axminster mayor and councillor Douglas Hull. Ref exb 09-16SH 6444. Picture: Simon Horn

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Further tributes have been paid to Alderman Douglas Hull, ahead of his funeral at the end of the week.

Alderman Douglas Hull served in local government for more than 50 years. Picture: Paul A J DuriezAlderman Douglas Hull served in local government for more than 50 years. Picture: Paul A J Duriez

Many tributes have been paid to Cllr Hull, 82, who served as a town, district and county councillor for more 50 years.

The deputy leader of East Devon District Council (EDDC), Councillor Eileen Wragg, described him as ‘Mr Axminster’ in her tribute to him and also said he was a much loved councillor who held his constituents close to his heart.

Cllr Wragg said: “Alderman Hull could be seen as flamboyant, even eccentric at times, but what was not in doubt was the compassion and empathy that he had for others.

“The changes which he helped to bring about in Axminster and beyond are testament to that. His speeches at all levels of local government made others listen, and were passionate and heartfelt.

Douglas Hull.Picture: Chris CarsonDouglas Hull.Picture: Chris Carson

“His colleagues are already missing Douglas, but the people who will feel the loss of his presence most are his beloved residents of Axminster.

“Douglas and his cherished wife, Joy, had no children, and they considered the Axminster community as their family. What a fitting tribute it would be to honour them both, perhaps by naming one of their achievements as a permanent memorial.”

The funeral is due to take place on Friday, June 12.

Cllr Andrew Moulding, who represents Axminster at EDDC said: “Of all the things he achieved, the one of which he was most proud was the establishment of the Millwey Industrial Estate, without which Axminster would be a much less prosperous and viable community. Axminster has lost one of its longest-serving supporters.”

Douglas Hull with his parents Walter Hull and Hilda (née Rockett). Picture courtesy of Axminster HeritageDouglas Hull with his parents Walter Hull and Hilda (née Rockett). Picture courtesy of Axminster Heritage

Rebecca Green, of Axminster Heritage Centre, said they had lost one of their longest-serving supporters.

She writes: “Douglas was extremely well-known locally for his public service having held a series of elected offices over a period of over 50 years, first as a Liberal and then as a Liberal Democrat.

“He served as a parish, town, district and county councillor, at Hawkchurch, Axminster, East Devon and Devon respectively.

“He also served as Mayor of Axminster three times. Devon County Council made him an Honorary Alderman in 2009, as did East Devon in 2019.

Douglas Hull (right) at an Axminster Town Council meeting in 1987 when Axminster Carpets MD Harry Dutfield and his wife were presented with a certicate thanking the company for its huge contribution to the town's ecomony.  Pictured  left was the Mayor Michael Steer.  Picture courtesy of Axminster Heritage.Douglas Hull (right) at an Axminster Town Council meeting in 1987 when Axminster Carpets MD Harry Dutfield and his wife were presented with a certicate thanking the company for its huge contribution to the town's ecomony. Pictured left was the Mayor Michael Steer. Picture courtesy of Axminster Heritage.

“Douglas was extremely well-known locally for his public service. Of all the things he achieved in the political sphere, the one of which he was most proud was the establishment of the Millwey Industrial Estate. He was equally proud of having secured the money from the Exeter Airport windfall that was used to buy the premises now occupied by the Heritage Centre.”

“Douglas was born at Lambert’s Castle in 1938 to Walter Hull and Hilda (née Rockett). After Walter returned from war service in North Africa and Italy, the family, which by then included Douglas’ younger sister Shirley, moved to Courshay Cottage, Hawkchurch.

“Douglas attended Axminster Secondary School, and after working for a time at a garage at Tytherleigh Cross, he soon devoted himself to local politics.

“In 1976 he married Joy (née Gunn), and they lived at Woodbury Park, Axminster, before moving to Fosseway Close.

Douglas Hull in carnival mood at the Axminster carnival in 2012. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref mha 5430-37-12SHDouglas Hull in carnival mood at the Axminster carnival in 2012. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref mha 5430-37-12SH

“Joy was for several years the head teacher at Lyme Regis Primary School, as well as serving as a local councillor alongside Douglas.

“Douglas was for many years an enthusiastic supporter of our local schools, to which he and Joy donated a number of awards for prize-giving days. They both took a particular interest in initiatives to overcome dyslexia, which had blighted Douglas’ own schooling.

“As well as local charities and the United Reformed Church, Douglas took a strong interest in Axminster Museum, which opened in 1982 in the Old Court House in Church Street.

“He organised many temporary exhibits there over the years, drawing on the growing collections of costumes and objects which he and Joy were developing, as well as the museum’s own collections.

“He was regularly to be found acting as a steward, welcoming members of the public to the museum, and he raised very considerable funds for it by running a second-hand bookstall. If an event required Douglas to put on one of his historic costumes, then so much the better.

“When Axminster Museum and Axminster Heritage joined forces, and the museum moved to Thomas Whitty House in Silver Street (in 2015/16), Douglas served for a time as a trustee, and for several years as vice-chairman of the collections sub-committee, and as one of the regular stewards.

“In recent years, and in particular since his wife Joy’s death in 2017, Douglas donated many objects, documents, photographs and old postcards to Axminster Heritage Centre.

“Of all his donations, the most impressive was from his collection of horse brasses. He had started his collection with brasses that belonged to his maternal grandfather, Reuben Rockett, of Lambert’s Castle, and it featured brasses typical of East Devon, West Dorset and South Somerset.

“These ‘pie crust design’ brasses form the core of the collection given to Axminster Heritage.

“It is a matter of great regret to us that Douglas did not live to see his brasses on display in the Heritage Centre, but at least he knew that but for Covid-19, they would have been on display in 2020, and that when the centre re-opens, they will be there for all to enjoy.”

Speaking for Tiverton and Honiton Liberal Democrats chairman Julian Hoyles, said: “Douglas, our president, was a very kind, caring and determined man who continued to work for Axminster and East Devon right up to the end. We will miss Douglas for his kindness, his advice, his knowledge and wisdom. He was an inspiration to us all. Rest in Peace.”

Mr Hull died over the bank holiday weekend at the end of May.

Axminster town centre is expected to be packed on Friday (June 12) when people can pay their last respects to three-times former mayor Douglas Hull.

Before his private cremation at Whimple the hearse will stop at the Trinity Square entrance to the Minster Green at 1pm, so residents can say their final goodbyes.


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