Unique, kind and a friend to many: Bilton man Eric Batchelor dies aged 91

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ERIC Batchelor was born in Bilton, lived there all his life and, fittingly, it is also where he will be laid to rest.

A well known and popular figure in the village - and throughout Rugby - Eric died on December 15 at the age of 91.

Born in Addison Terrace in Main Street his family moved when he was very young to Red Row in Magnet Lane, which is now Assheton Close. He attended the village school until he was 14 and enjoyed working on the school allotment, as well as his parents’ large garden. Older inhabitants of Bilton might remember his appearance in a Mummers Play, many years ago.

Starting work, Eric joined the Export Department at the BTH and then during the war was stationed up north in the air force, before being sent to India, where he learned to respect and admire the culture and local population.

Returning to the BTH, Eric welcomed and befriended generations of apprentices who came to Rugby to study and work.

As a young man he chose to stay in Bilton, buying a new house built on the allotments, which became Alwyn Road. Eric’s cousin, Tony Coles, the closest of his remaining family, is also a long-time Bilton resident.

Appreciated for his friendship and sense of fun, Eric may be best remembered as a well-respected local historian. He was a vital member of the team, encouraged by the Friends of St. Mark’s Church, which put together an exhibition of the history of Bilton, held in the old village hall in March 2003.

The Rev Pam Gould, who will be conducting his funeral at St. Mark’s, said: “Eric was always happy to share his fantastic fund of knowledge with adults or school groups.

“He also prepared a lecture on Bilton. His lectures were always stimulating and entertaining, as well as informative, and willingly given until his failing health made the effort impossible.

“Eric was totally unique,” she added. “He was a kind, loving and knowledgeable man, ever young and yet full of wisdom. It is a privilege for me to take the funeral of someone who has been such a great and lifelong friend.”

Over the course of his lifetime, Eric had also attended many lectures, including those at the Percival Guildhouse, Rugby Decorative and Fine Arts Society and the local National Trust group.

He volunteered at Canons Ashby National Trust property in Northamptonshire for almost 20 years and was a familiar face at concerts, plays and recitals around the Rugby area, always being a discerning, as well as generous, member of the audience.

Many people will especially remember seeing him at the Tuesday recitals at St Andrew’s Parish Church, always sitting near the front so as not to miss a note.

Although Eric was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, he remained active until quite recently and this photograph was taken in July at Cotehele, Cornwall on his last holiday. He died in Coventry Myton Hospice and donations to the hospice, in lieu of flowers, are requested in his memory.

Eric’s funeral is at St Mark’s Church, Bilton at 2.30pm today (Friday) where he will be buried in the churchyard with his mother.