Farewell to Colin

Colin Peter Sherard Platt

11th November 1934 – 23rd July 2015

Many thanks to Liz Miller for this account and for her moving tribute to Colin on behalf of the village:

On Friday 31st July at 12 noon, the Church of St John the Baptist, Littlehempston, was packed with people, mourning the death of Colin Platt, but also celebrating his life. His daughter Emma Kelly spoke of him as a loving father; a fellow academic Paul Smith spoke of his hard work and dedication to his subject and the books he had written; Paul Stamper, an ex-student of his, spoke movingly of Colin’s relationship with his students; and I felt honoured to be able to speak about his life in Littlehempston which became so important to him.

“It was fascinating to those of us who had only known Colin and Claire from the time they bought the Old Rectory in March 2002, to hear about his previous life, and the way he was valued by his family and friends as indeed he was by us.

They settled into village life, and I don’t know quite how they managed it, but with great sensitivity and tact they would act generously without ever seeming like Lord and Lady Bountiful dispensing largesse. Their field would be offered for November 5th bonfire and fireworks, or their kitchen for heating mince pies and mulled wine, for the Lighting of the Village Christmas tree. A committee meeting needed a venue and Colin would say ‘you can come here’ and then the bottles of wine and nibbles would appear. Their barn was used for storing all the stuff that wouldn’t fit into the church or was needed for the Village Fair, and when the church was closed during the conversion we had our services in the barn.

When the idea of converting the church was broached, it seemed an impossibility, but Colin with the Rector, Nicholas Pearkes, and the PCC Treasurer Derek Goult, applied for, and received grants, and as they came in, it became more than just a dream, but an actual possibility.  An architect was found, plans were presented and at last the work began. Nicholas and Derek were a very important part of the conversion, but I hope they would not be hurt if I say that it was Colin’s knowledge, with his sensitivity of touch for this ancient building that has made it what you see today, a place of worship, but also a place where we can have concerts, poetry readings, suppers, dance performances, and even a Barn Dance.

Colin hated the cold, and in the winter we had a curtain hanging over the church door, and at times the curtain would billow out, and the church would be freezing. Colin had the idea of the inner porch, and it is perfect.

He and I served on various committees, and always he was the calm centre when people got bogged down in trivialities, and tempers rose. He was able to cool the atmosphere, say the sensible thing in his quiet voice, leaving everyone (mostly) satisfied.

We all know what a brave man he was in the way he dealt with his cancer, and it was obvious how much he was loved, not just liked, loved, from the way the village reacted when they heard he was ill. The phrase that occurred over and over again was ‘Oh, how dreadful. He’s such a lovely man.’ And he was. A generous man, a kind man, a wonderful friend, and someone for whom this church will be a lasting memorial. We were so blest that he and Claire came to live here.

A lovely man.”