W M David Collis (1957-2009) – A Personal Tribute

by John R Ketteringham



Dave died on 20 May 2009 after a long illness. His funeral service was on Friday 5 June at St John's church, Washingborough followed by interment in Canwick Road Cemetery, Lincoln.

Dave was born in York on 15 April 1957 but grew up from the age of eleven in Lincoln. He attended Skellingthorpe Junior School and went on to the City School which was then in Monks Road, Lincoln. He was one of the very first pupils at the new school when it relocated to Skellingthorpe Road, Lincoln.

From an early age he was interested in chemistry and from 1976 to 1979 he studied this subject at Sheffield Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) and continued his studies at West London Polytechnic (now Thames Valley University) in Slough from 1980 to 1983. As a Chartered Chemist he became a member of the Royal Society of Chemists.

Dave’s great love was bellringing and he learned to ring at St Giles, Lincoln in the early 1970s. He became a familiar figure at practices and meetings with his brown Kawasaki Z400 motorbike often with his younger brother Colin riding pillion! In 1974 Dave was elected a member of the Cathedral Company of Ringers.

Dave teaching at St Mary-le-Wigford, Lincoln (probably c1974)


His first peal on 19 August 1974 was of Kent and Oxford T B Major at Walesby. His next three peals were in January 1975 and all were of Stedman Cinques at Lincoln Cathedral! Altogether in 1975 he rang six 12 bell peals.

Whilst on a course in Woolwich in 1977 Dave rang regularly at Camberwell and at Southwark Cathedral. He was elected a member of the Ancient Society of College Youths in 1981. In 1984 he started work at Jealotts Hill and joined the band at Warfield ringing his first handbell peal soon afterwards. Whilst at Jealotts Hill he rang a total of 13 handbell peals and 5 peals on tower bells including his first as conductor. He is remembered at Warfield as a very cheery person who was always willing to help where necessary and he assisted at the Easthampstead Ringing Course. Dave moved in 1989 to Watford, and then to Snodland, Chester and Aylesbury before finally moving to Waters European Headquarters in Paris in late 1998.

Wherever Dave lived he joined in enthusiastically with the local ringing and he particularly enjoyed helping learners as well as ringing peals both in the tower and in hand.

It was soon after his move to Paris that he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. An operation was initially successful but a recurrence eventually overcame him. During the last few years I helped Dave to update his peal records and I also gave him contacts for bellringing on the continent but unfortunately he was never well enough to take advantage of these.

Since Dave’s death I have received a number of messages from those who knew him as a bellringer which confirms, as I always found, that he was a good friend and good company. Whenever he was in the UK he rang at St Giles and Lincoln Cathedral but eventually he had to stop driving and this limited his visits considerably.

Although bellringing was undoubtedly Dave’s major interest, in Washingborough Hall after the funeral service there was a very graphic display illustrating Dave’s many other interests! Dave’s brother in law, Mike during his address said that on Dave’s desk at his apartment in Versailles was found a small card displaying the following motto: ‘Stand up, be brave’

This philosophy no doubt kept Dave going for much longer than the doctors expected.

I am grateful to Dave’s sister, Linda and her husband Mike, to his brother, Colin and to Revd Les Whitfield, who conducted the funeral service, for assistance in compiling this tribute. I am also grateful to those ringers who have contacted me by email and telephone with their recollections of Dave.

Dave commenced his last journey from the church to cemetery to a recording of the Morecambe and Wise classic 'Give me Sunshine' - this says a great deal about him.

John R Ketteringham

Revised: 26/06/2009 (acah)