Group Captain Monty Dawson, DFC*, DFM
With the sudden death of Monty Dawson on 7th January, the community has lost one of its best-loved and most respected members, as was shown by the large number of people who gathered in church on 15th January to celebrate his very full life and to honour his memory.
As an RAF navigator in the war, Monty took part in the raid on the Scharnhorst, dropped troops and towed gliders for the D-day landings, and was in the elite Pathfinder Force which made Bomber Command’s precision bombing possible.
After retiring from British Aerospace, and coming to live in Shawford in 1985, he threw himself into a number of community activities.
In the early 1990s, the days of real cut and paste, he took over the editorship of this magazine from Sid Russell and laid the basis for its continuing success.
A committed church-goer and sidesman, he joined the PCC where he shouldered the often thankless task of fund-raising with characteristic optimism and enthusiasm. He organised numerous concerts. He was Area Organiser for the Historic Churches Cycle ride and until very recently used to join in on his Raleigh bicycle, British Racing Green of course. Charming, courteous and persuasive, it was impossible to turn down a request from Monty.
With Robin Tice, he used his flying knowledge and negotiating skills to persuade Southampton Airport to modify aircraft approach routes for the village’s benefit.
When Ray Wilmshurst revived the Horticultural Society in 1993, Monty became its Secretary, a post he held ever since, with the invaluable help of his beloved wife Cherry as “Secretary’s Secretary”, and he was delighted to win the prize for Best Garden in 2002.
At the Parish Hall 1996/7 centenary celebrations he showed his talent for acting in the Horticultural Society’s “A Vegetable Plot”.
For many of us, our last memories of Monty will be distributing presents as Father Christmas at the Horticultural Society’s Christmas Party, or hugely enjoying himself in the audience on the last night of this year’s Shawford panto.
Monty – we will miss you but our lives are the richer for having known you.
Adrian Walmsley and Bob Emmerson
This tribute to Monty appeared in the February 2003 Parish Magazine