Douglas H. Sayer, 1930-2019

<<Tidings, March 2019>>

Dougie Sayer moved to Geldeston with his wife Shirley and their small son Jonathan in 1962 and lived in the village for the rest of his life. The previous twenty years he spent in Stockton, with his parents and elder brother Peter. Doug (or Dougie), as we all knew him, was a local through and through, whose long life united two of our parishes. In his origins, however, Douglas Honore Sayer was a London boy.

Born in Lewisham on 19 January 1930, it was not until six years later that the family moved to this area, settling at first in Norwich. In 1940, Cyril and Jane Sayer took on the Black Boy Inn in Stockton. Some of the most vivid incidents and anecdotes that Dougie’s many acquaintances will recall concern his wartime escapades as a boy in a tiny Norfolk village that seemed, as he described it, to get almost as much attention from the Luftwaffe, as the cities he and his family had left behind.

Bombardier D.H. Sayer

After military service in post-war Cyprus, Doug returned to Norfolk and, apart from forays into the North Sea fitting life-raft to oil rigs, he spent his days in Geldeston with his growing family. As the EDP notice of his death rightly says, Dougie was “the devoted dad of Jonathan, Ian (deceased), David and Janie”. It is impossible to list all that Dougie did. Restoring old vehicles, civilian and military, and running a famous traction engine; rebuilding an entire wherry, the pleasure boat Olive May, at the Rowan Craft boatyard in Geldeston; making ships in bottles and larger models – all evidence of considerable skill, experience, patience and an exacting attention to detail.

In later life Doug was for years the skipper of the Waveney Stardust, taking the disabled out for memorable trips on the river. In the village, with Shirley, Jonathan and Caroline, he was a mainstay of the annual Produce Show and Fete; latterly, he and Shirley were regulars at the weekly coffee morning. Outside Geldeston Dougie was an active member of the British Legion, serving as standard-bearer for its Loddon and Haddiscoe branch.

Yet just as important was the way Doug did these many things – the humour, cheerfulness and dignity with which, supported by Shirley, he faced the many knocks and adversities of a long and not always easy life. He will be missed by all who had the good fortune to know him. Our condolences to his bereaved family: to Shirley, his wife of over sixty years, and to all his children and grandchildren. (JC)

The restored Olive May

The funeral service took place on Wednesday, 27 February 2019, at the Waveney Memorial Park and Crematorium, Ellough (nr. Beccles).

Donations in Douglas’s memory, for the Royal British Legion or Waveney Stardust, may be sent c/o Rosedale Funeral Home, 22 Hungate, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 9TT or via the “Much Loved” online memorial site at

Doug and Janie with Jonathan in the background