‘Loyal’ Exmouth Amateur Operatic Society member, Bill Carpenter, has died

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An evacuee who refused to go back to London after the war, making Exmouth his home, has died.

Cockney Bill Carpenter, who was born in Lambeth, adopted Exmouth as his hometown after he was evacuated to Devon for safety - where he was fostered by a couple living in Belvedere Road.

After apprenticing as a carpenter and joiner, Bill was employed by a local builder and was involved with building Exmouth town hall. Later, as site manager with Sidney Pratt, he was responsible for the Rolle and Rose Mullion, both at Budleigh Salterton.

After marrying Daphne, with whom he had two daughters, Lynda and Susan, he got involved with stage work and stage managing pantomimes.

He joined the Exmouth Amateur Operatic Society and was a loyal stage manager for more than 45 years. During this time, he met some well-known people, including Angela Rippon, some of the original Black and White Minstrels and the great pianist, Semprini. His one great friend was David Whitehead, who became a stage-lighting expert and owned a lighting company called Stage Electrics. They made a great partnership, working on the operatic productions.

Bill became interested in breeding budgerigars and fishing. He was the proud owner of boat called Poppet and together with his great friend, John Prior, brought back many a catch.

When Bill’s marriage to Daphne ended, he brought up his two girls on his own. They were a ‘great credit to him’.

Through his work with Sidney Pratt, Bill met Jean. They married in 1991 and she soon joined his passion for budgerigars and the operatic society. The pair made many friends together.

Soon after, Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

He had moved into Jean’s home in Woodbury, making a raft of new friends, and became hooked on growing plants.

Together Bill and Jean joined the Woodbury Garden Club and The Exmouth Fuchsia and Pelargonium Society – both learning how to grow winning fuchsias and pelargoniums. They both won several cups.

Bill was made president of the Exmouth Amateur Operatic Society, a position he held for three years. He was in the team that took the society over to Langerwehe to stage My Fair Lady. Later, Bill was made an Honorary Life Member.

Bill’s interest in budgerigars brought him success and he rose to Champion Breeder level, winning many trophies and rosettes.

Elected president of the Western Counties Budgerigar and Foreign Bird Society, he was later made a life member.

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