Tuesday 3rd March 2015 saw a packed Basingstoke Crematorium say farewell to Chris Barton, the oldest member of the Probus Club of Basingstoke. Joining his widow Jenny and their extended families amongst the mourners were nine members of the Probus Club of Basingstoke with the President, Vice President and other committee members including several past presidents.
Chris had died in his sleep in the early morning following his 92nd birthday where he had been in good form recovering, albeit slowly, from a chest problem that had hospitalised him in December.
We learned of Chris’s birth in South Kensington, the son of a prep school headmaster, and his education at Dauntsey’s school in Wiltshire where he continued to attend their Old Boys’ reunions until recent years. A minor heart murmur that kept him out of physical activities for some school years failed to stop him playing various sports later in life. Sailing and boating became a great interest and was the reason that the RNLI was the chosen charity for any donations.
Forever a practical man, Chris had a variety of jobs. Being an aircraft fitter, working amongst others on Sunderland Flying Boats, eventually brought him to Hampshire. Moving into an engineering specialist firm in Basingstoke he then transferred within the company becoming a diamond polisher on which subject Chris and Jenny gave a presentation to one of our Speaker evenings. After several years he created a car hire business and during the quieter months he became a driving instructor. Having helped several students source a suitable car he established Five Ways Car Sales. When he sold up he became a wood turner that became a busy hobby in his retirement. (the subject of our Members’ Hobbies section of our web site)
Probably because he joined the Probus Club well into his retirement Chris did not aspire to become a committee member but immersed himself thoroughly in our activities and was a regular attendee at lunches, Speaker meetings and on social outings. He really enjoyed our last trip to the RAF Museum where he was seen keenly viewing a Sunderland Flying Boat, perhaps wondering if it had been one that he had worked on.