Jinks Fitzsimmons, countryman, businessman, rogue and raconteur, and elder statesman of four generations of Horrabridgers, died on Wednesday Nov 11, aged 83, about the time the nation went silent in Remembrance.
He was born February 20, 1937. He passed on peacefully, at home, two weeks after taking to his bed for the last time, and is mourned by his wife, Jill, their seven children, their children’s children and grandchildren and a network of friends stretching around the world.
His father was a dockyard inspector and his mother was part of a farming family in Eggbuckland, where Jinks grew up and got the nickname he preferred to his christened name, Jeremy.
He ended up working on a farm at Sampford Spiney and getting engaged to Jill Maddock, whose family had deep roots in Horrabridge. And over the next 60 years he was deeply involved in all aspects of village life, including the football club, the parish council, the catching of salmon and the recording of local history.
Jill and Jinks this summer, by Max Law
He was interested in everyone and made an effort to make everyone feel welcome. Newcomers were charmed and interviewed and drawn into his network. And old-timers respected a man who had come up the hard way and worked and played with many of them.
He was shepherd, dairy man, builder, rabbiter, poacher and fixer. In the 1960s, he worked for the MoD, organising fuel and other supplies for Plasterdown Camp, and then, in the early 70s, took over the newsagents and general store which used to be run by Jill’s parents, at the heart of the village, opposite the bottom end of the bridge.
After retiring from that, in 1983, and moving to his last house, on Station Road, he remained busy as gardener, grandad, consultant, entertainer, and historian of local affairs.
Jinks encouraged the launch of the Horrabridge Times and will be forever remembered here in The Shed, as in many other places, for his generosity, sharp observation and good company.
Funeral arrangements to be announced.
The morning after his passing, his family were slightly spooked to find his last ferret, which he called The Old Man, dead in his hutch.
NEW MAN STARTS WORK & CEMETERY RULES DISCUSSION
Horrabridge has a new handyman.
Adrian Rockey’s appointment to the half-time job, starting November 2, was announced at the parish council meeting on Tuesday, along with the retirement of Tom Dooley last weekend.
The new man was immediately plunged into village politics, after Councillor Chris Edmondson reported that Tom Dooley had sometimes had to empty dog waste bins, even though Horrabridge pays West Devon Council to look after them – £340 a month during summer.
Council chairman Eric Hemsil said one of Mr Rockey’s first jobs should be to monitor the bins, to check that they were being emptied according to the contract.
The hot issue of the meeting was control of grave decoration in the cemetery – especially lights.
It was proposed that the council’s rules should be rewritten to make clear that only a vase of flowers was allowed – then the proposal was amended to say artificial flowers would be acceptable.
But two councillors, Mike Huda and Fiona Peart, felt even that was too restrictive and declared themselves quite angry about the council trying to stop families making their own memorials.
Eventually, the flowers-only proposal fell from lack of a seconder and Cllr Hemsil moved the debate to next month’s agenda, to allow time for cooling down and further consideration. He also listed for debate a proposal to create a wild flower bank at the uphill end of the cemetery.
Next month will also be the deadline for the council to make up its mind what to do about a projected deficit in next year’s budget. The subject will be discussed by the finance committee on Thursday December 3, in time to make recommendations to the full council on Tuesday December 8. Villagers can attend both by Zoom.
Mike Huda said it was time for a push to recruit new volunteers for the five vacant places on the council. Eric Hemsil agreed, asked for this to be reported and said he would also issue an appeal on Facebook. Inquiries to parish clerk.
Police are probably looking local for a burglary at The Chippie which cost proprietor Kenny Chiu more than £1000 in damages and yielded about £3 in loose change and an old iPad.
Somebody threw a rock through his window at about 1.45 am Wednesday, grabbed the till and its printer and made off on foot towards the bridge as neighbours woke up and sounded the alarm. The machinery, except for the iPad in the till drawer, was thrown in the road and is in police custody for the foreseeable future, and Kenny had to buy replacement kit, close on Wednesday and fix his window. No other clues yet.
Email information to email@example.com or telephone 101, quoting crime reference CR/095001/20.