IN true Hittisleigh tradition a sumptuous tea, all homemade, was laid out on tables through the Village Hall in August for a little party to mark the presentation of an engraved plaque in memory of much-loved resident, Brian Howell, on a bench in the garden at the hall.

Brian and his wife Carol had moved to the village 30 years ago, Brian helping village projects so many times. He died earlier this year aged 76.

A number of people were there to see Will Fisher, vice chairman of the Village Hall Committee pull the tartan blanket off the back of the bench to reveal the engraved brass plaque.

Will spoke about how Brian had helped create the garden from a tangle of brambles and nettles beside the Village Hall where the bench is.

“On day one we discovered we could not get the dumper in here, doom and gloom. We might have to use shovels and wheel barrows.

“Brian was there and said OK, he would knock a couple of feet off the wall and rebuild it so that we could get the dumper in and carry on doing the work.

“He rebuilt it so we could have a wider gate. Having someone like that on your team was great, he is much missed,” said Will.

There was hefty applause of agreement.

Will had organised the plaque and put together a display of photographs in the hall of projects in which Brian had been involved.

The Village Hall Committee had organised the tea, people from the village contributing cakes, cheese scones and other food.

Brian was born into a farming family in Essex, went to boarding school in Cranleigh, Surrey which also had a farm, which he loved.

He studied at Writtle Agricultural College in Essex, met Carol and they began married life near Great Dunmow, Essex in a tied cottage on a large Strutt and Parker farm where Brian milked the cows among other farming jobs.

He later worked for British Sugar in Essex as an Agronomist advising farmers on their crops.

They had long-time friends farming in Hennock near Newton Abbot where they would spend holidays and, encouraged by them, they moved to Devon, to farm near Hittisleigh, 30 years ago.

Brian’s widow, Carol, said: “He was a kind, generous, caring, practical, humorous, community-minded man - also as a friend put it, he could be contrary.

“He loved life and made the best of it. He loved our two daughters dearly and was proud of them both.”

They had two grandsons as well and were married for 52 “happy, interesting, fun and eventful years”, said Carol.

They had lived first at Hill Farm until 1999, moving then to West Fursham. Among many other things, Brian had been a member of Hittisleigh Parish Council and the Village Hall Committee.

He used to run quizzes there, dreaming up the questions and on one memorable occasion setting questions that took people all around the village.

He had done a dry stone walling course on Dartmoor, kept bees and belonged to the Community Choir.

Donations of £950 from his funeral went to Devon Wildlife Trust because he was a great conservationist.

Sue Read