The size of the congregation attending the memoral service at All Saints’ Church on July 21 testified to the enormous respect in which Douglas Reynolds, who has died at 96, was held by the townsfolk of Kingston.

It included the Mayor, Councillor Julie Pickering, the MP for Kingston and Surbiton, Sir Ed Davey, and representatives of the numerous Scout groups, businesses, clubs and societies that Douglas, known to so many as ‘Dougie’, supported over his long active life. Highlights of Dougie’s life were recalled in tributes by his nephew Ian Reynolds and his close friend Rotarian Keith Waller. 

Active in politics after his wartime service with the RAF and a staunch Labour supporter,  Douglas was a councillor for Tolworth West and Chessington South from 1950 to 1982. He became Deputy Mayor of Kingston upon Thames from 1978-79, and Mayor from 1984-85 with his wife Doris as Mayoress.

He was a magistrate from 1950 to 1980, and Chairman of the Bench in 1977 and 1978. The many associations of which he was chairman include the Kingston Police and Community Forum, the Surbiton and Kingston Road Safety Committee, the Surbiton District Scouts Council and the Thames Housing Association. In 2013 he was presented with the Mayor’s Community Award for his work with local organisations.

Born on August 29, 1920, Douglas was the eldest of three brothers who lived in the aptly named Douglas Road in Tolworth. Aged just eight, Douglas joined the Scout Movement as a Wolf Cub, and remained an enthusiastic Scout all his life, becoming a founder member of the 2nd Tolworth Scout Guild. In 1988 he was awarded the Medal of Merit by the Chief Scout in recognition of his outstanding service to the Scout Movement.

In 1940 Douglas joined the RAF for his war service. A vision defect prevented him from becoming a pilot, but he trained as an electrician and was posted to Bari, in southern Italy. Here he serviced Dakota DC3 aircraft, and on many occasions he flew with them on flights to drop supplies to the Italian partisans fighting against the retreating German forces around Florence.

It was while serving as an airman in Italy that Douglas met – by post! – the woman who was to become his wife. In 1944 Leading Aircraftswoman Doris Eldridge, working in England for Fighter Command, responded to a newspaper appeal for a pen pal from a lonely airman stationed in Italy. A long-distance friendship flourished and the pen pals eventually met in 1946. A year later they were married. They celebrated their Diamond Wedding in 2007. Doris died in 2011.

After the war Douglas resumed an interrupted career on the railways, begun in the Booking Office at Kingston Station in 1937. He retired 44 years later as Accountant to the Signal Engineer of Southern Region.

One occupation that gave Douglas particular pleasure was his work for the Friends of Richmond Park, which he served as chairman from 1993 to 1999. During his 30 years with the Friends, Douglas led more than 250 walks and gave 485 talks to local clubs and societies, earning him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal Parks Guild.

Douglas was a member of Kingston Rotary Club, and its president from 1988-89, a member of Surbiton Probus Club and of the Kingston upon Thames Society, and an Honorary Alderman of the Royal Borough.

In 2012 Douglas was nominated for an MBE, ‘for services to the Community’, and in July 2013 he went to Windsor Castle with three of his closest friends and received his MBE from the Queen.

Article supplied by Michael Davison