Hundreds pack Barnstaple Parish Church to bid farewell to community champion

More than 700 people attended a service in Barnstaple today (Friday) to celebrate the life of David Butt.

The packed congregation at the Parish Church showed how the community champion, former councillor, retired Braunton Academy teacher and tireless fundraiser had touched the lives of so many people.

It followed a private family service at North Devon Crematorium earlier in the day, before the public service led by Reverend David Fletcher.

It was attended by a wide range of people, including teachers, former pupils, councillors, many friends from the world of rugby, Pilton Festival and his countless charity works.

It opened with one of his favourite songs, Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues and continued with hymns plus a poem read by his daughter Amy and eulogies by Malcolm Prowse, Nigel Baldwin and Steve Warner.

There have been hundreds of tributes since David, 63, died suddenly at his Pilton home on April 14.

Starting the eulogies, his lifelong friend Malcolm Prowse said he was 'an amazing guy and such a good friend'.

"All his family and friends can be so proud, he was a very special person who made a difference to every one of us," he said.

"He cared passionately, never forgot his roots and believed he could change things for the better."

Mr Prowse said David had achieved so much during his time as a Barnstaple town councillor, district councillor and then deputy leader of the council until 2007, but had never sought the limelight for himself.

"Although he achieved a huge amount he did it without making an enemy. David touched everyone he met and the numbers here today show he was a very special person," he said.

Rugby and laughter

David's friend of 46 years Nigel 'Paxo' Baldwin had the congregation chuckling as he regaled them with memories of his friend and their time playing rugby together.

"He was more than a friend to me, he was a shared soul," he said.

"He and I were at a friend's funeral not so long ago and he nudged me and said 'will you give my eulogy?'

"He said 'because Paxo, you'll tell the truth'. I said don't be stupid we will be in church! He said, 'you do mine and I'll do yours'. That was his wonderful sense of humour."

Good works

Steve Warner, another good friend, spoke last to pay tribute to David's endless charity work, including their three trips together on a seven-seater bike to raise money for Children's Hospice South West as part of the Mag 7 team.

Wearing a Mag 7 shirt, Steve said: "I was determined that he was going to make his last journey carried by someone in a Mag 7 team shirt."

He said his loss 'left a massive hole': "People liked him, he was decent, he was genuine and he was honest.

"We achieved some amazing things we would not have achieved without Dave."

He spoke of his work and fundraising for Children's Hospice South West, plus the Read Easy adult literacy charity as well as the things people never heard about, such when David took the time to buy food for a homeless man.

"On April 14 this year we lost a very special man and I lost one of my closest friends," he said.

A collection taken on the day will be divided between Children's Hospice South West and Amigos.