‘A kind man who tried to bring sunshine and happiness to everyone’

Don Filliston
Don Filliston

Tributes are being paid to a Sussex man deeply committed to nature conservation and known for his poetry.

Don Filliston, 89, died peacefully at his home in Storrington on March 24.

His daughter Sue Curnock said Don was “a kind and gentle man who did his best to bring sunshine and happiness to everyone he met, Don will be sadly missed. He loved people and always made time for the things which really matter; stopping for a friendly chat, playing with grandchildren, finding the good in everyone and every situation, with wise words and thoughtful deeds.”

Don was born on February 20 1929 in London, the elder son of Joe Filliston and Irene Shaylor. He was evacuated to Much Hadam in Herts. There, he passed his scholarship exam and joined Hackney Downs School and was then evacuated to Kings Lynn.

In 1955 he married Daphne Howell at the Parish Church of Herne Bay. He leaves his beloved wife Dee; brother Alan; daughters Jo and Sue; grandchildren Jacki, Simon and Chris; niece Val and nephew Peter.  

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, Don excelled at many sports including cricket and football. He served in the Royal Navy for seven years as Flag Officer’s Writer, and 40 years as sales manager with Unilever; his natural people skills bringing swift promotion through the ranks.

Said daughter Sue: “He was deeply committed to nature conservation, working tirelessly to protect and care for his local green spaces, and inspire others to do the same. He was chair of Sandgate Conservation Society for 20 years, during which time membership increased to almost 2000, making SCS the biggest parish-based society in England.

“In 2003 he was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for ‘Services to Conservation in West Sussex’. And on his retirement from the chair in 2005 he was awarded Honorary Citizenship of Storrington and Sullington by the Parish Council.

“In later years he was able to spend more time on his poetry and contributed over 100 topical and humorous poems to the West Sussex Gazette. He was even invited to tea with Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, as he had so enjoyed reading Don’s poem on Quantitative Easing!

“Don will be fondly remembered as a loving husband, brother, father, grandfather and loyal friend, always thinking of others, helping us follow the right path and leaving us with a smile to lift our hearts.”

Brian Burns, of the Sandgate Conservation Society said Don was “such a lovely person and a driving force behind the society, who had a great empathy with countryside and its conservation.

“Don took over the chairmanship in 1985 when the membership was little more than 300 and, due mainly to his own efforts, raised it to over 2,000 - quite an achievement by any standards - that made the society the largest parish based organisation of its kind in the UK.

“Don was a very quiet person who had a way with him that beguiled many a volunteer to offer his/her services without realising they had volunteered.

“Another attribute that never ceased to amaze was his attention to detail and instant recall of people and their names, not only their names but also their relatives and previous conversations; just remarkable.

“Among many of Don’s achievements was the introduction of young people to conservation work, and under his watchful eye many youngsters have attained their Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

“Don was awarded the MBE in 2003 for his unstinting work in the area of countryside conservation that will benefit future generations.”

A funeral service will be held at 11am on Thursday April 12 in the Kingswood Chapel at Worthing Crematorium, Findon BN14 ORG. Flowers are welcome or memorial gifts in Don’s memory may be made to: St Barnabas House Hospice, Worthing, or Marie Curie Cancer Care, Worthing.  Arrangements are with H D Tribe Funeral Directors of Storrington, HDTribe.co.uk Tel: 01903 742585.