About 150 people paid their respects at the funeral of Denis Mackie, 62, at Kingsdown Crematorium on 13 August.
Denis, who died suddenly on 1 August from a blood clot, was a major figure in the Toothill community – volunteer chairman of the junior youth club, one of the first involved in the Toothill lottery million pound project, and a supporter of the community cafe founded by his wife Tina, as well as her night time carer.
She and Denis moved to the area with their young children in 1978, two years after building in West Swindon started.
At the funeral the casket was escorted into the chapel by members of the family, led by a piper playing Flower of Scotland.
Rev Anne Carter said Denis was one of those people who saw the good in other people and wanted them to understand what they could achieve. "His death was a shock to us all, never expected so soon and so sudden.
"Faith, Hope and Love is central to the Christian message; I think it’s something Denis understood and put into practice as he cared for his family and so many groups.
"He was born in Highworth and grew up in Stratton St Margaret, meeting Tina through the National Association of Youth Clubs gatherings; they married when Tina was 19 and Denis was 21.
"Denis’ children were his pride and joy, as was his granddaughter Isabel. He was looking forward to the arrival of James’ first child in January.
"Denis became increasingly involved in Toothill Junior Youth Club and he was like a magnet for children. In the final weeks of his life when he was not very well he went to the end of term party at the youth club where the children were so pleased to see him.
"But in their younger lives Denis and Tina welcomed children from Germany and the Middle East into their home on exchange programmes to promote understanding between cultures.
"Denis was somebody who saw the good in people and wanted them to understand what they could achieve."
In her eulogy, his tearful daughter Louise Bartos, said her dad had been taken away from his family and the community far too soon. "So many lovely friends and family have travelled to share their respect for dad, he would have been amazed by the attention, yet proud.
"We all loved him so much and he was so committed to making mum happy. If she thought something was important, he would think that it was important too. He was passionate about his family and his granddaughter Isabel brought him particular joy. We had a long argument about whether he should be called grumpy, but in the end Isabel made the decision when she started talking and called him ‘umpy.’
"Denis was doer, not a talker, who disliked committees. He would sometimes say things without thinking of the consequences but he usually had good reason for saying it. He was passionate about things but his comments perhaps didn’t come out the right way, but his heart was in the right place.
"Dad was not good with names and usually called people Fred if he couldn’t remember. Trying to contact people to let them know about the funeral was not easy as so many people were labelled under nicknames or something like Charlie’s mum on his mobile phone.
"We are so pleased that my dad and mum were able to spend a happy time together on their Mediterranean cruise in May. Denis wasn’t somebody to dress up in a tuxedo but the photos taken by mum show how much we enjoyed becoming James Bond – above and right."
The hymn ‘Give Me Joy In My Heart’ sung at the funeral was chosen by Isabel and Denis, with his usual humour specified that Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ should be sung when his time came. People couldn’t hold back the smiles through the tears as they left the Crematorium chapel.
Spookily the the Python classic was in Denis’ car when Louise switch if on for the first time after he died.
Junior Youth Club coordinator Caroline Bosley said Denis’ presence will be missed greatly by staff, volunteers and the children. “He did so much to keep the club going; it was his passion and the kids loved him for it.
“We want to provide a memorial bench at Toothill Farm and we’re planning a party to bring everybody together at halloween to remember Denis by. He always thought we should have one for the children, but we never organised an event because of the half term break. It will be a special night for Denis.”
The congregation made donations to the junior youth club instead of bringing flowers.
In May the Mayor of Swindon Nick Martin selected the club as one of his three charities. He said: “It is a great pleasure to see the enthusiastic and smiling young people every time I visit. It was my way of recognising the efforts and dedication of Denis, the committee and the volunteers that keep this lively organisation going.”
Toothill Junior Youth Club caters for 70 children aged 5 to 15 twice a week and is also looking for more volunteers to help it remain successful. To offer help mail: email@example.com
Denis Mackie, a major figure in a Swindon community, passed away very suddenly on 1 August, leaving residents of Toothill in shock.
His funeral will take place at midday at Kingsdown Crematorium, Kingsdown Road, Swindon SN2 6SG followed by a wake at The Kingsdown pub,
Upper Stratton, Swindon, Wiltshire SN2 7PE.
Rev Anne Carter from Toothill Church will lead the service.
His family are asking people who attend to make a donation to Toothill Junior Youth Club, rather than bring flowers AND they want people to come in colourful clothing as Denis would have wanted it.
His five year old granddaughter Izzie has asked for the hymn ‘Give Me Joy In My Heart’ to be part of the service and Denis himself with his usual humour specified that Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ should be sung when his time came.
The sixty three year old was a totally committed volunteer to Toothill Junior Club, one of the first to be involved in the Toothill lottery million pound project, a supporter of the Toothill community cafe founded by his wife Tina, and also her night time carer.
Denis collapsed with low blood pressure on Wednesday 31 July and was taken to Great Western Hospital after paramedics stabilised him. He died the next day from what is understood to be a blood clot to the heart.
Tina said she and her children James and Louise were totally devastated. “I was told Denis was comfortable and stable but then we had another call to say he had passed away. It was so sudden, I never had the chance to say good-bye.
"We’ve had so many people on the doorstep saying how sorry they are to hear of the news. The young people who go to the youth club are so sad.”
During his working life Denis was an architectural welder. His work can be seen over the entrance canopy at Watt Tyler House on Princes Street in Swindon town centre, at Madam Tussaud’s and the Royal Mint. According to Tina he once worked in a building overlooking the gardens of Kensington Palace where he witnessed Princess Diana playing with young princes William and Harry.
Denis had a direct yet friendly approach, always tinged with humour. But he didn’t suffer fools gladly and would get frustrated if things didn’t get done; spending toomuch time in committee meetings was not his thing.
After early retirement he fully committed himself to the young people of Toothill and argued long and hard for the use of Toothill Farmhouse on Bodiam Drive as a permanent base for the junior club.
Former Toothill councillor Mary Martin, who worked with Denis on negotiations to use the farmhouse said: “Denis and the Toothill Junior Youth Club are completely linked together in my mind and memories and I’m so sorry to hear of his sudden passing. It was such a shock that life is taken away so suddenly.
“From when the farmhouse had been renovated in 2000 and we were looking for groups to take occupation, he was there, full of great schemes and ideas. What is even more important, he just got on and made things happen.
“I know lots of people are involved and the club is very much a community enterprise, but he was the person who I dealt with most during the 12 years I was councillor for Toothill and Westlea. He was never afraid to ask for action, bring ideas, sit round a table and thrash out issues.
“He could see opportunity in everything. I have great memories of seeing the Princes Trust volunteers working on the grounds around the farmhouse, the ‘end of term’ parties in the summer with an incredible atmosphere of this rural oasis in the heart of Toothill – the children just loved taking part.
“We worked together to make sure that the club could support and benefit from the early days of the Toothill Million lottery. A good friend, as well as a colleague in the community.
“Both he and Tina were constantly involved with community ventures. Joining Tina and Denis for a coffee and excellent slice of cake at the community café was always a pleasure.”
Lorna Sumbler, a supervisor at Toothill Community Cafe, said nothing was too much for Denis. “If you wanted something done, Denis would be there. He would do the shopping for the cafe and provide a taxi service for people who couldn’t easily get to the community centre.
Lisa Corcoran, manager of Toothill Community Centre club, added: “Denis was a man with a huge heart for the community. His work with the youth club was massive. So many people are upset by his passing.
“At times he was very outspoken because he was so passionate and committed.”
Gail Light, Swindon Council localities facilitator, said: “It was so awful to hear of Denis’s passing when I got back from holiday on Sunday. Toothill has lost such a wonderful man. What he did for young people in the area was amazing. We owe it to him to work together to make sure the volunteers at the junior youth club are supported so that his commitment continues.”
The Mayor of Swindon Nick Martin selected Toothill Junior Youth Club as one of his three charities for his year in office. He said: “The farmhouse sits in a lovely green spot in Toothill, it is a bit of the country in the town and accessible to every child in the area.
“The club, and in particular Denis, shared my vision of a home away from home providing a unique environment for town-living youngsters. It was a great pleasure for me to see the facilities developing and the enthusiastic and smiling young people every time I visited. I particularly wanted to support a charity that demonstrated shared community values, a completely inclusive facility and one that offers an amazing range of activities right on the doorstep of thousands of people.
“Denis’s enthusiasm over the years was a big part in choosing the junior youth club as one of my Mayor’s Charities this year. I felt it was a way to thank and recognise the efforts and dedication of the whole committee and the volunteers that keep this lively organisation going.”