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5th May 1949 - 28th May 2016

We were very sorry to learn just as the last edition was going to press that our former Secretary and latterly Membership and Shares Secretary, Keith Deakin, passed away on Saturday 28th May 2016. Keith was born at Marston Green on 5th May 1949. In his later education he chose to go to college to study HND in Metallurgy, rather than do ‘A Levels’ at school. Keith married Caroline in 1971 and joined the fledgling ‘2857 Society’ shortly afterwards.

Keith loved any practical involvement with our loco at Barry in those early years. He was also keenly involved in fund raising for 2857 and took on the maintenance and upkeep of the society’s ‘Commer’ van, which resided on his front drive. Although this van carried our sales stock to many venues, it was a bit of a disreputable liability and Keith & Caroline were glad to see the back of it. Just the presence of the van on his drive was said to devalue his property by several thousands of pounds!

He worked for Foseco, now a supplier to the foundry and steel industries, as a Foundry Technologist/Metallurgist making Hillman car engine blocks etc. He offered to repair my shattered ‘6611’ smokebox numberplate at work by a technique called “burning on” and effected an excellent repair joining the four pieces of ‘6611’ imperceptibly back together.

Keith’s humour was often the life and soul of the ’28 lads’. Ros and I shared a holiday with Keith & Caroline, staying in Manorbier station in Pembrokeshire, and one day the four of us were sight-seeing in the car, approaching a major road junction, with me asking Keith as our navigator “Which way do we go here?” He replied, “Take the road to ‘No-Thanks-I’ve-Just-Had-An-Austin-East’.” After I’d circumnavigated the roundabout twice in a state of total bewilderment, he gave in and said, “You want the road to ‘Have-A-Ford-West’”, at which point the penny finally dropped that he was just playing with the name Haverfordwest! He was also an excellent and hilarious mimic.

After the first restoration of our loco was complete in 1985 he concentrated his involvement very ably as Membership Secretary. He also gradually built up his collection of nameplates, numberplates, totems and chimneys, including the old scrap one from 2857. Keith’s accent was amazing, although quite normal for Tomm’th (Tamworth) we understand! He would ring up and the dulcet tones of this famous Tamworthian always began with “Hello! How are cabsides?” In the intervening years, Keith teamed up with Society stalwarts Dave Sumner, Rex Butler, Bob Kyte and Tom Moore working in the Intermediate P-way gang based at Kinlet, to keep the ‘middle miles’ of the SVR safe and up to scratch.

Keith battled over several years against a debilitating degeneration of his nervous system, but still proudly soldiered on as our Membership Secretary. As he bravely pointed out “It is one of the few things I can still do!” He finally succumbed to the dreadful disease on 28th May 2016, aged 67. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to Caroline, the girls and their wider family. Many relations, friends and several Society members attended Keith’s funeral at Alrewas Crematorium and afterwards enjoyed the family’s warm welcome at the Deakin home, amongst Keith’s chimneys and other railway memorabilia in the garden.

Steve Whittaker


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