Tributes to president of the Chichester Players

Eric Clarenbone with his wife Ruby
Eric Clarenbone with his wife Ruby

TRIBUTES have been paid to a man of the ‘highest integrity’.

Former president of the Chichester Players, Eric Clarenbone BEM, 92, died earlier this month.

Mr Clarenbone was born in the flat above the north entrance to King Edward VII Sanatorium, in Midhurst, on March 24, 1920.

His father, Charles, was steward from 1914 and became the accountant in 1936. The family later moved to Hillview Cottage, on the estate.

Mr Clarenbone went to school in Midhurst, firstly at St Helena’s and then Midhurst Grammar.

He began working in the education department at county hall in 1936.

On his 19th birthday, in 1939, Mr Clarenbone joined the Royal Army Medical Corps Reserves.

It was then he met his friend, David Saunders, under canvas at Tweezledown Racecourse for the formation of the First Armoured Division Hygiene Unit.

He went on to be deployed in France and the Middle East and, in June 1945, he was awarded the BEM for outstanding service. In 1987, he was awarded a silver jubilee medal.

It was when he was serving in the Western Desert Mr Clarenbone received the first in a series of airmail letters from ‘Pam’ whom he later met as Ruby under the clock in Waterloo station. The couple married in 1947 and moved to Chichester.

They went on to have three daughters, grandsons and great-grandsons.

Shortly after moving to the city, the couple joined the Chichester Players with Mr Clarenbone working as a handyman.

He went on to join the maintenance committee before becoming chairman and then president.

In 1981, Mr Clarenbone retired as county education welfare officer, having been responsible for organising rural transport. He joined the retired members section of NALGO, now Unison, going on to become social secretary until February 2010.

He was also a member of several other groups including the Stockbridge Gardens Friendship Club, the horticultural society, the British Legion, Cruse, the local history society and Chichester Canal Society.

Speaking about her father, Margaret Minty said a testimonial, written when he was discharged from the army, still completely summed him up.

“He has an exceptional capacity for hard work and, in all that he undertakes, shows the same high standard of keenness and efficiency,” said the testimonial.

“He is a man of the highest integrity and first-class character, absolutely trustworthy and reliable and possessed of outstanding initiative and capabilities.”