Tributes follow the death of Don Fisher

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There are few people in Bourne who did not know of Don Fisher.

He devoted more than a quarter of a century to the affairs of this town and his was a familiar face in our streets, having been mayor twice and holding office with innumerable organisations devoted to the welfare of its citizens.

Yet Bourne was his home only by chance, although his roots in administration and what he called “a commitment to the cause” went back to his boyhood years in the north of England and a willingness to serve that never left him.

Donald Fisher was born on September 11, 1933, at Woodlands, Doncaster, south Yorkshire, the son of electrician Elijah Fisher and his wife Mabel.

After leaving school he enrolled as a cadet with the West Riding Constabulary and a career with the police force beckoned but he found the Army a more attractive option and in 1951 at the age of 17 he enlisted as a regular soldier and served with the Coldstream Guards for 15 years, including tours of duty in Germany, Kenya and Oman.

In 1967, he took the route that led him to Bourne when he met and married Celia Rodgers, a former pupil of Bourne Grammar School, and left the Army to work at a London store. But the marriage was not to last and they were divorced after four years.

There were no children from the partnership but because of it, Don became acquainted with Celia’s family, well known in Bourne for their butchery and farming interests, and it was during one visit that he had a chance meeting in the street with Eric Cross, the furniture dealer who was then building his warehouse store in Manning Road, now occupied by Anglia Furnishings.

He asked Don if he would like the job of manager, the offer was accepted and in 1972, Bourne became his future home.

He never remarried but devoted his energies to the community which became his consuming interest, and four years later he was elected to Bourne Town Council, representing the old Dyke and Twenty ward, since absorbed into the East Ward.

He remained a town councillor for 35 years, serving two terms as mayor, from 1983-84 and again in 1998-99.

He served as a member of South Kesteven District Council from 1979-2007 and Lincolnshire County Council from 1981-89.

He was also responsible for organising many of the major events in Bourne in recent years, including the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations in the summer of 1977, the Heritage Exhibition in 1981 and the R A Gardner Art Exhibition of 1996.

Don was involved in numerous other organisations, including the Royal British Legion, serving as chairman of the Bourne branch from 1996-2001, when he received one of the legion’s highest awards, the Gold Badge.

He was a founder member of the Civic Society in 1978 and its chairman from 1994-96.

One of his main interests was the village of Twenty where he served as secretary of the village hall management committee from 1977, a job he took for just six months but held office for 21 years.

He also served for a similar period on the village hall management committee at Dyke.

He was a tireless worker for charity and from 1989 was a member of Bourne United Charities, serving for a period as chairman of the organisation which he considered to be one of the most important in Bourne.

His other interests included education. He was a governor of Bourne Grammar School for 10 years and became the longest serving governor of the Robert Manning Technology College (now Bourne Academy) as well as completing spells on the board of the Abbey Road Primary School, Morton Primary and the Willoughby Special Schools.

He was also a committee member of the South Lincolnshire Branch of the Alzheimer’s Disease Society, chairman of the Kesteven Museums Panel (1985-89), former secretary of Age Concern in Bourne, an organiser of the Bourne Evergreen Club, during which time he arranged meals for the elderly, and vice-chairman of the Bourne branch of Disability Links.

Don once said: “I always felt it extremely important to become involved with these organisations if you want to do something positive for the town.”

He was also an active supporter of Bourne Outdoor swimming pool, sitting on the trust committee, and was a co-opted member of the old Bourne Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

Don retired in 1995. but suffered a stroke in 2001, although this failed to dampen either his spirit or his enthusiasm for public work and he continued to attend meetings and keep appointments.

“I love Bourne”, he once said.

“It has so much character and I will always fight to preserve things like the church and the Red Hall.

“It is institutions such as this that are the very essence of our town and must be protected at all costs. I think that in finding this place to live, almost by accident, I made a very fortunate choice.”

In March 2010, he moved to The Cedars Retirement Home and continued to maintain his interest in local affairs but his condition deteriorated in recent weeks.