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News > Fondly Remembered > David Foster Harrison, OH 1939-46

David Foster Harrison, OH 1939-46

Tribute paid by Jeff Gillyon at the Service to Celebrate the Life of David Foster Harrison, OH 1939-46.


I think it fair to say that David and I became the closest of friends through our membership of the Old Hymerian Lodge. It was a friendship that developed and became ever stronger over a period of more than 50 years. But a little more about David and Freemasonry later. 

David was born in 1929 and died at the age of 94 years after living a full life – and I mean a very full life.

His father, George, was an engineer – a pattern maker at Rosedown & Thompson, and the family lived on Cottingham Road which meant David first attended Bricknell Avenue Primary School before moving to the Junior School at Hymers College in January 1939. Although the family home was on Cottingham Road, with the advent of War David was evacuated to Tithe Farm in Ferriby to keep him somewhat safer having regard to the bombing that the City of Hull was experiencing. Cliff Holtby at Tithe Farm took young David under his wing, taught him how to drive a tractor, and David enjoyed the environment so much that the farm was the place for him even during school holidays. I think David’s enduring love of farming was born in those relatively early days of his life.    

David was to remain at Hymers College throughout the war years, leaving in the summer of 1946 and was very active during his time at the school.

In the school records there is a very moving poem written by David in March 1944 entitled ‘Thoughts for Service Men’. I think the thoughts of a then 15 years old boy encompass the patriotic spirit that prevailed both in him and this country generally at that time:

I wonder if you ever think
Of ships at sea, that often sink
With cargoes of petrol and oil
The men who work, and sweat, and toil.

Or do you think of men on land,
Who dash along with grit and sand
To make our Empire’s name and fame,
They all are men who play the game.

The air-planes that pass overhead,
While we are wrapped up warm in bed.
We never think of these brave men,
Who plot their way by graph and pen.

Can we cure our selfish greed
To help these men in time of need,
By giving all that we can spare
Of courage, hope, and faith, and prayer.

D. F. Harrison (Form 4A)

Whilst at Hymers, David proved himself a useful cricketer and a very good rugby player. In December 1945, David played for the Hymers 1st XV against an RAF XV in a match that resulted in an 11-11 draw.

Like many of us, he was a member of the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) where we were issued with Army uniforms, taught the military basics of drill, how to fire a rifle, take part in manoeuvres on Beverley Westwood, usually in the pouring rain or so it seemed, and go away to camp each year. Fair to say some boys enjoyed the experience far more than others, but David loved it and it stood him in good stead a few years later when being called for National Service.

Although David left the school in 1946 he remained proud of being an Old Hymerian throughout the rest of his life and often expressed his appreciation of the overtime his father worked to make payment of his school fees possible. The older version of the Old Hymerian tie is the one David favoured and so frequently wore.

On leaving Hymers College, David went to work at Reckitt & Colman, training as an Analytical Chemist and attended Night School to obtain a degree in Chemistry.  The fact that he was studying delayed his call-up for National Service, but when called, he was commissioned in the Army Ordnance Corp, following which he served in the Territorial Army until retirement with the rank of Major. David considered it his duty to serve his Country.

Work with Reckitt & Colman took David to many places away from Hull, and one such place was Glasgow, where the Company had a large paint manufacturing concern which they wished to close down. A very large amount of paint needed to be disposed of quickly so that a warehouse could be closed and David, the Analytical Chemist and budding farmer, also became an Entrepreneur and Retailer. Together with a partner, the stock was purchased, knowing David presumably at an attractive price, transported to Hull, and seven Superdec shops appeared.

Throughout his life, David’s love of farming remained strong and it resulted in him buying the old Vicarage in Wawne, although the land with the property was not extensive, so initially pigs were reared. However, more land was purchased and David concentrated on cattle breeding which became his speciality. The records David kept for the Fatstock Marketing Board were the stuff of legend.

Whilst Young Farmers Clubs are for people up to the age of 28 who have a love for agriculture and rural life, they have a Section for Seniors and David was an active member of it. As members, David, together with Anne enjoyed many trips abroad in like-minded company, to countries such as New Zealand.

David was initiated into the Old Hymerian Lodge in 1967 and he became Worshipful Master of the lodge in 1990, and after receiving his first Provincial Honours in 1993 was subsequently promoted to Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden.

He became a member of the Kingston Royal Arch Chapter in 1973, went on to join the De La Pole Chapter in 1982 and become its First Principal in 1990 before becoming a Founder Member of the White Rose Schools Chapter in 1995. At Provincial level, David held an Active Provincial Rank in 1997 before promotion to a very high rank in 2003.

David was renowned for his ceremonial ritual in the Lodge. Not only for the way he learned very long pieces, but for his impeccable delivery. There is a line of ritual we use in our lodges when talking about a Brother who has passed to the Grand Lodge above. We say, "he lived respected and died regretted."  That certainly applies to David.

I regard it as a privilege to have known David Foster Harrison for so many years. He was a fine man – he was my friend and my Brother.

Jeff Gillyon, OH 1953-59

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