Neighbours pay tribute to ‘the nicest, kindest man you could meet’

OUR neighbour and great friend Dennis Mossman died on December 8 after being rushed to Peterborough Hospital as an emergency the previous Tuesday. He would have been 80 next February.

Anyone who knew Dennis will know what a loss to the world he is. He was the nicest, kindest man you could meet, exceptionally talented yet totally unassuming, knowledgeable, humorous and always ready to help.

My husband Ian and I met him when we came to live in Elwyn Court nine years ago. He and his wife Evelyn had got to know my mother Joan Menzies through their mutual love of reading. Dennis, a joiner by trade, then rebuilt her conservatory, which, living in her house, we enjoy today.

Dennis immediately offered to help putting up shelves, cupboards and pictures, and from then on every time some new contrivance entered the house – a futon, a desk or whatever – Dennis would inevitably be asked if he could once again sort out the most hopeless DIY-ers in the book.

And putting things right that we had got wrong was always such fun, with Evelyn joining us later for a coffee or a glass of something red and not too dry.

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Many people in March will no doubt have benefited from Dennis’s great skill as a carpenter. His talent was wide-ranging. He built some exquisite furniture and two magnificent rocking horses for Evelyn’s grandchildren.

Dennis was born in Hackney in East London in 1932. Leaving school at 14, he became an apprentice joiner. On call-up for National Service, where he served as a trouper in the Cavalry, he told the army he was a trained joiner so, of course, they promptly sent him to be a motor mechanic.

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In the 1960s he moved from London to March, where, with partner Keith Old, he expanded and developed their business fitting blinds and shutters. Later he joined the building company Galliford Sears, finishing as site manager.

Dennis’s first wife died after a long illness. He married Evelyn in 1996. They were ideally suited, both being avid readers, enthusiastic travellers, cat-lovers and devotees of Gilbert & Sullivan.

Our great treat every February was to go with them to the student production of a G & S opera at the Cambridge Arts Theatre.

One year when we were both smitten with ‘flu two friends went in our stead and found themselves sitting directly in front of the Duke of Edinburgh, in Cambridge as chancellor of the university to honour Darwin.

At the wake at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel following Dennis’s funeral at March Crematorium a medley of G & S songs was played. It’s the way Dennis would have wanted it: fun but no fuss.

He leaves Evelyn, two sisters, two step-daughters and four grandchildren.

A fine man, a true friend and a real gentleman, he will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him.

Donations in memory of Dennis may be sent to Wood Green Animal Shelter, Kings Bush Farm, London Road, Godmanchester PE29 2NH

Celia and Ian Skidmore

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