Respects paid to village’s ‘pillar of the community’

The guard of honour as Ferring nurseries' late owner is escorting into St Mary's Church, East Preston. L19102H13

The guard of honour as Ferring nurseries' late owner is escorting into St Mary's Church, East Preston. L19102H13

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HUNDREDS of mourners paid their final respects to a former East Preston firefighter who has been described as a “pillar of the community” and an “incredible father”.

David Luscombe, owner of Ferring Nurseries, died last month following a valiant seven-month fight against an aggressive form of leukaemia.

At his funeral last Wednesday (May 1), at St Mary’s Church, East Preston, six firefighters from the village fire station provided a ceremonial guard of honour for David – who, before setting up the nursery business, in 1980, had served there as a retained fire officer.

Standard bearers from East Preston and Kingston Royal British Legion, of which David had been a member for more than 50 years, and president at the time of his death, also attended the funeral.

David’s son, Courtenay – who works at the family business – said he was “astonished” by the turn-out and wished to thank all those who took the time to pay their respects.

‘Astonished’

“As a family we were so surprised at the number of people who attended the funeral. It was packed full of those who loved Dad.

“But we never expected so many people. We were astonished,” he said.

The procession made its way from David’s home, in North Lane, along The Street to the churchyard, in Vicarage Lane.

His coffin, draped with the Union Jack, was carried into the church by six members of staff at the nursery, while the fire service guard saluted them.

Inside, long-term friend and treasurer of the Royal British Legion branch, Malcolm Reene, of Worthing Road, gave a touching speech about David’s life.

However, it was David’s grand-daughter, Alexis Luscombe, who tugged at the heartstrings of the congregation.

The visibly emotional 11-year-old read a poem in memory of her beloved grandfather.

Celebrated life

After the service, the funeral procession moved away towards Littlehampton Cemetery, where David was buried.

The route passed through the heart of Rustington, stopping in The Street at the site of last year’s Olympic-inspired floral displays, designed by David and his team, which helped ultimately to clinch the village’s victory in Europe’s most prestigious horticultural competition, the Entente Florale.

“Some people asked me whether the day would be a sad one,” said Courtenay. “And I told them ‘no’.

“It was a time to celebrate my Dad’s life.

“And I know he would have been proud to see the display we had put on for him, He deserved nothing less.”

David grew up in Rustington. After completing his National Service with the RAF, he moved to East Preston, with his wife Sylvia.

Weeks later, in 1955, he joined the fire service at the village station where he rose to station commander and stayed until 1990.

In his later years, he coached both East Preston and Ferring football clubs.

David leaves behind his wife, two grown-up children and five grandchildren.