Don Weller, bass singer, and a highly-regarded member of the Kings of Herts chorus, sadly passed away in Luton and Dunstable Hospital on May 11, just 12 days short of his 82nd birthday. Coronavirus safety regulations prevented chorus members from attending the funeral service at Harwood Crematorium, Stevenage, but an online link-up was a welcome substitute and we watched a moving family tribute to a much-loved father of three, and grandfather to four.
Don’s wife Irene, daughter Caroline and sons Stephen and Daniel offered moving recollections, in the presence of Stephen’s wife Laura and Daniel’s partner Holly.
Don’s sister Sheila and her husband joined the ceremony remotely from Millicent, South Australia.
It was a small gathering, but a fine remembrance of a man of many talents and interests.
Music played a large part. The service started with My One And Only Love recorded by his late friend Jeff Clarke and ended with another gentle piano piece, The Meadows, written and played by son Daniel. Monty Sunshine’s Just a Closer Walk with Thee played as the family departed.
Don’s working life was spent in printing. He moved to Harpenden in 1986 when he was headhunted for a senior managerial post in London looking after colour quality on the Daily Mail’s You magazine. It was an appointment that saw him working alongside famous journalists such as Eve Pollard, John Lees and Dee Nollan.
Don was born in Amersham. His career took him from an apprenticeship in High Wycombe to a colour retoucher’s role at Eric Bemrose Limited, at Aintree, Liverpool, working on such magazines as TV Times and Weekend and progressing through a series of promotions to quality control manager.
It was in Liverpool that he met and married Irene, who discovered he had a huge enthusiasm for jazz and for motor sport. So keen on cars in fact that he actually built a kit-car at home in his youth - and regularly attended race events at Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Goodwood and even Le Mans.
Don served his National Service in the Royal Horse Artillery from 1957-59. He retired from work in 2003, just three months short of a half century in the print industry.
He joined the Kings of Herts in March 2006 and for years was its librarian and song sheet distributor, with music equally important in Irene’s life as a member of the Welwyn Harmony ladies’ acappella chorus. In recent years Don’s hobby interests extended to acting as a volunteer at the De Havilland aircraft museum in Hatfield.
Son Daniel’s career has been absolutely devoted to music, for years as a guitarist with highly-rated progressive rock band SikTh and more recently as an award-winning independent rock music producer.
Kings’ chairman John Lough said: “We remember Don with great affection. He was the chorus librarian for many years and a great overall contributor to the Kings of Herts. His absence will hit home when we step on to the risers again.”
Paul Nash, bass section leader, remembered Don as a stalwart member and one of the most reliable participants at sing-outs. "He loved the singing experience and his gentle easy-going attitude and dry sense of humour were appreciated by the chorus. Don was also our unofficial photographer for a long time and his pictures provide a valuable record of our stage shows and special events."
Don died from pneumonia/lymphoma. The family are inviting friends to make a donation to Lymphoma Action. Contact https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/donald-weller for guidance.
The order of service included a weblink bonus - a YouTube connection allowing mourners to hear Don, in 2009, performing cheerful vocals for the theme tune of popular BBC children’s show Ed and Ouch. It can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQFfl2yCGV8&app=desktop