ROD Brookes-Hocking, who was well-known in Crediton, died on August 20, aged 73.

During the nearly 37 years that Rod lived in the town, he was involved in projects, theatre productions, festivals and community events.

He produced several “Shakespeare in the Square” performances with director, Peter Hamilton, the 2018 production, “Echoes of Wartime” and worked with the Town Team on the Credfest community festivals, the High Street Flag project, the St Boniface glass panels around the town and the picnic tables in the square.

The biggest project Rod was involved in was the square itself.

Between 1987, when the idea was first discussed, and 2007, when the square was formally opened, Rod, along with local businessmen and architects, advocated the benefits of a large open space in the town centre, found the funding for it and convinced the district council planners that it was a good idea.

The regular Farmers’ Market, concerts and drama performances returned plus all kinds of community events from car rallies and boules tournaments to Christmas in Crediton and the Jubilee celebrations just a few months ago.

Rod was born in London and grew up in Romford, Essex. He was the youngest of three and very much his mother’s favourite (according to his sister). Always active and adventurous, he joined the Air Cadets and learned to fly gliders. An early ambition was to join the RAF and train to be a pilot. However, he didn’t pass the eyesight test and chose a new direction.

He enjoyed reading and performing so he trained as an English teacher at St Osyth’s college on the Essex coast. Taking full advantage of the location, he used to sail a boat from his digs to the college and he never lost his love of sailing.

After graduating with a degree in Education, Rod taught English at St Michael’s, just off the very affluent Sloane Square. The school served a pocket of deprivation invisible behind the elegant Georgian facades. Rod had to learn class and crowd control techniques extremely fast and he told many tales about scrapes he nearly got into but always managed to dodge.

Time for a change, and with ambitions to travel, Rod went north to Aberdeen and worked on oil rigs as a roustabout (operating close to the drill), risky but fortunately very well paid, and he earned enough to go travelling in Central and South America for months, only coming back when he ran out of money and had to borrow from his parents to get home.

Payback time and Rod joined Coventry Theatre in Education, devising theatre performances and drama workshops for schools. This was right up his street and he rapidly extended his range of skills in working with young people. Next, he joined Free Form Arts Trust, a community arts company based in Hackney, East London.

There he met his future wife Liz, who joined shortly afterwards. They set up home in a terraced house in such a bad state that it was about to be compulsorily purchased by the Borough Council. Undaunted, Rod put his practical and DIY skills to work and totally transformed it.

Regular visits to Liz’s mother in Morebath, Devon, sparked a love of the countryside and especially the moors.

Eventually, it seemed like the right time to move down and Rod got a job as community arts co-ordinator at the Exeter Arts Centre, now the Phoenix. Just before Christmas, 1985, Rod and Liz, now with one-year-old Nicholas, moved to Crediton and never wanted to live anywhere else.

With daughters Caroline and Veronica added to the family, Rod went back to teaching in 1991 and for most of the next 16 years he lectured in Media Studies at East Devon College, now Petroc College.

He loved this work and put his energies into enriching students’ college experience, with theatre productions, all-night film nights and trips to London, Amsterdam and New York – as well as making sure they passed their exams, of course.

Rod’s funeral service will take place at 11am on Monday, September 12 at Holy Cross Parish Church in Crediton. All are welcome and afterwards at the Boniface Centre.

In recognition of Rod’s life-long commitment to the arts and young people, his family has chosen The National Youth Arts Trust for donations in his memory.

This charity provides opportunities in dance, music and drama for 12–25 year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Donations may be sent directly to the charity: or via: A White and Sons, Funeral Directors, Albert Road, Crediton EX17 2BZ, telephone 01363 772043.