Tribute to Bill Cummings who died on the 2nd March 2019
Bill was born in Exeter, and he and his 3 brothers were very keen footballers. He played for one of the top amateur teams in the area and was being closely watched by a scout, which he had hoped would lead to him becoming a professional. Unfortunately his health let him down, but Bill was still a very active person and when young ran with Exeter Harriers and rode with Exeter Wheelers.
Bill & Pam married in 1957 and in 1963 moved to Alphington, Exeter, having two children of their own and eventually six granddaughters. Bill served as Chairman of the Parent Staff Association whilst his children were at school, and also helped with the local Scouts, Exeter Swimming Club - where for a while he was Team Manager, and then the Pony Club. Bill and his friend trained the Prince Phillip gymkhana team, and after being elected to the Pony Club Committee Bill was asked to become District Commissioner, a post he really enjoyed.
In 1972 Bill was asked if he would take on the running of Alphington Village Hall, which at the time was in debt. For many years, he and the caretaker managed to run the hall on a shoe string until a Community Association was formed and Bill became a Trustee. The Village Hall was in desperate need of refurbishment and eventually funds were raised and Bill was very proud to have been asked to carry out the recent official opening.
Bill was also a volunteer car driver for his local Doctors surgery, taking patients to and from their various appointments.
Until retirement, Bill spent most of his adult life working for a wholesale textile merchant, where he started in the trimming department but ending up as a director. He loved the job, especially dealing with the beautiful cloth they sold, and became an expert at completing all the necessary paperwork to allow the materials to be exported all over the world.
Bill was a very enthusiastic driver and had always dreamt of owning an Austin Healey. Unable to afford one, his first car was an MG TC, but this was eventually followed by a succession of Austin Healey Sprites, with which he had great fun. He eventually bought his dream ‘3000’ in 1968 and his passion to get involved led to Bill becoming a founder member of the Austin Healey Club, where he would travel up to London for meetings on a regular basis.
Bill & Pam at the Dawlish International Weekend, May 2018
In the 1990’s, as a long term friend of the Healey family, he joined Bic Healey in reviving the Healey Drivers’ Club and serving on the committee in various capacities, as Chairman, Magazine Editor and Treasurer, ably assisted by Pam as Secretary. He organised weekends away for the members and visits to interesting local attractions, along with regular monthly club meetings. He and Pam’s energy and enthusiasm have been instrumental to the successful development of this club.
Bill also joined the local Crash Box Club, where on his first visit to the annual ‘Powderham Historic Vehicle Rally’ he was awarded the prize for best Club Car. He became very involved with this club and again served on the committee for many years, firstly as Regalia Secretary, Assistant Treasurer, Secretary, then Chairman and later President. He was also a Club Director and took part in many holidays with the Club, taking his Healey to Europe, Scotland and Ireland. The Crash Box Club was a huge part of Bill’s life and he was honoured when he was made a Life Member.
One of Bill’s main hobbies was his love of motoring books and he accumulated a vast library covering many marque’s, their histories, motoring memorabilia and the like. When attending motoring functions Bill would always have a few books with him ready to be signed by any authors who may be present. As one well known author told Bill, “Book collecting is a disease”!
Quiet and unassuming, with a great sense of humour, Bill always put others before himself.