Small stature, big heart

David Hunt, whom I knew through the Ramblers, died in July aged only 77.  Despite his illness he was active to the end.  In August I went to his funeral at Lambley in Nottinghamshire and met his three sons, Wes, Paddy and Mark, and other members of his family.  David had a terrific sense of humour, and the celebration of his life included memories of happy times and his jokes.

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Paddy spoke for the family.  He told us that he knew from an early age that he wanted to join the navy, and he consulted his father: ‘Dad, when I grow up I want to be a sailor’.  After a brief moment of contemplation, David responded ‘Paddy dear boy, you cannot do both!’

There were three words that defined David: fellowship, fairness and humour.  Fellowship was what he felt for his brethren and the environment.  Fairness drove his behaviour and philosophy, and his phenomenal contribution to society, through his family, political affiliation to Labour, his widespread charity work and his profession (accountancy).  And humour was important to David.  Once he had mastered email he set up ‘Jokes corner international’.   He would make light of his short height, once dressing as a gnome for a Warwick University Graduates’ Association event

He loved sport, especially cricket, he supported Arsenal and he played squash and rambled.  He also enjoyed travel.  His career was as an accountant, and when he moved to Nottingham in 1986 to work in the administration office of PKF (Pannell Kerr Foster, one of the top, global accountancy firms) he fell in love with the city and stayed there for the rest of his life.

Although he was an accountant, he was a partner and UK Director of Human Resources and International Training Partner for PKF which led to him working in over 70 different countries.  After he retired he formed his own management development company.

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Wes, Paddy and David

Hilary Lindsay, past president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said that their paths crossed more than 30 years ago, and she particularly appreciated David’s laughter and his enjoyment of life.  He would joke that there were more letters after his name than in it.  He was a member of the ICA council for 20 years, and it was impossible to measure his impact.  He celebrated his 70th birthday appropriately at the longest champagne bar in Europe, at St Pancras.

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I spoke of David’s immense contribution to the Ramblers.  Encouraged by his friend Frank Syratt, who worked for Ramblers, he answered an advertisement in the magazine to apply to be our national honorary treasurer.

I found the paper to the Ramblers’ committee which recommended that we propose him as treasurer at the AGM.  That was in December 1996 and it was appendix 45 (it’s amazing how many committee papers we had in those days).  A subgroup interviewed seven candidates and said of David: ‘We found him polite but robust.  Inspirational.  Worth having on all counts.’  They then made a shortlist of three and recommended David: ‘for eminence in his profession, policy awareness and support and personality: clearly the top’.  How right they were.

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David joined the Ramblers for good reasons, because he believed in our work to open up and maintain public paths and increase access.  He loved walking and unlike many he appreciated that the Ramblers play a fundamental role in enabling people to walk.

Superb treasurer
As a respected accountant, David made a superb treasurer, particularly as he was always willing to part with money to support our cause.  He believed in spending charitable funds on charitable purposes, not storing them away in case of an emergency.  Treasurers’ reports can be boring and fusty, but not David’s.  Whenever he spoke at our AGM he would start by explaining ‘By the way I am standing up’ (in view of his short stature), and would then proceed to present the accounts in a witty fashion so that everyone listened.

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David Carter, a former accountant at the Ramblers, said that when he told David that he was taking early retirement to study theology, David H quipped that he was moving from looking at the profits to looking at the prophets.

When David ceased to be treasurer in 2003 he became active in Nottinghamshire Area, taking on the role of chairman twice.  With his winning charm and humour he encouraged people to volunteer and always remembered to thank them.  He led the reorganisation of Ramblers’ rights-of-way work in the county to make is much more effective.  He would defuse tensions with humour and produce a workable consensus out of seeming intransigence.

Praise
He always took the trouble to praise and analyse a piece of work.  He was a loyal member of the Open Spaces Society and after receiving each issue of our magazine he would write to express his appreciation and make pertinent comments.  He would always reply to correspondence in a helpful manner, and when he agreed to do something he followed it through.

He was such fun to be with, and even when suffering his grim bouts of illness he retained his humour, saying that he had a season ticket for Nottingham City (Hospital).

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His humour is apparent in his answers to questions for an article on the Notts Ramblers’ website:

‘Who would be your ideal walking companion?’
Me.

‘Have you ever got lost on a walk?’
Not when I have been leading!

And finally, ‘Sum up your personality in three words.’
Enjoyment in everything.

That was David.

David Hunt, 22 December 1941 – 3 July 2019

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The view of rural Nottinghamshire from the crematorium at Lambley

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About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Access, Obituary, Ramblers, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Small stature, big heart

  1. Geoff M says:

    I have fond memories of David. At my first General Council (Aberdeen, 1998), I wrote a report that included ‘…David Hunt, the R.A’s treasurer woke everyone up with a sparkling report proving that accountants really do have a personality!’ And ‘…At the bar after dinner, I got into conversation with the R.A’s treasurer, David Hunt, a Bob Hoskins-esque figure, drinking double Cointreau-on-the-rocks! It was his first full Council, and he thought the motions desperately dull.’
    David had seen a copy of my report and reminded me of it when we met two years later at Canterbury. He always made time for a chat on the occasions we met subsequently.
    I was aware of his long battle with ill-health, born so bravely, and the fact it never stopped him travelling the world in connection with his charity work and for holidays, until his illness brought greater restrictions this year. He wouldn’t have wanted to have continued in that way.

    Geoff

  2. Thank you Geoff, lovely memories. I remember those double cointreaus too, he was always pleased to buy drinks for others.

  3. Wes says:

    Thank you so much Kate for such a lovely tribute here and on the day. Miss him so much already but such lovely words mean the world to us and thank you!
    Kindest wishes
    Wes

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