24th August 2011
BRIDPORT: Tributes paid to Bridport Butcher
DON BALSON: April 9th 1923 – July 23rd 2011 - Died aged 88
TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-loved Bridport Butcher who passed away last month.
For many years Don Balson has been the face of England’s oldest family butchers, R.J. Balson and Sons, who have been operating in Bridport since 1535.
The popular master butcher lost his battle with lung cancer in July and family members this week said they had been overwhelmed by the support they have received since his death.
Don’s widow Joan has filled up three rooms of her house with cards, flowers and gifts she has received from well-wishers.
Don’s youngest child, Jane Boulay, said: “We’ve had piles and piles of cards, all with messages inside saying what an amazing man he was. He was a bit of a cheeky chappy, he used to speak to everybody and I think he’s a bit of a Bridport legend.”
Having begun work for the family business as a child Don recalled that his first job of the day was always to catch the horse out in the field to start delivery.
The business has evolved since those early days but Don stayed involved right up until his death, struggling to keep away from the shop at times.
Don’s only break from behind the counter came during World War Two when he was called up to join the Navy.
Don served on H.M.S. Petard, the only ship to sink submarines from German, Italian and Japanese Navy’s and a vessel that played a vital role in recovering materials to help decode the German Enigma machine.
Don later put his naval experience to good use by becoming a scoutmaster at 1st West Bay Sea Scouts.
Don could also be regularly found in the seas of West Bay without a boat, either playing water polo, taking part in the Blackbuoy Cup race or having a refreshing Boxing Day swim.
His competitive streak also extends to dry land where he enjoyed a game of skittles with friends at the Boot Inn and turning out to play for the Bridport Thursday football team.
Don met his wife Joan shortly after the war at a drill hall dance, and in 1947 they were married.
Joan said: “He’ll be remembered alright, he used to have a joke with the customers. Someone said she came in once and told Donald it was her grandfather’s birthday and the next minute Donald had gone inside and come out with a party popper, that’s what he was like.
“We’ve had so much support since his death, we filled up one room with flowers and cards, we then went into the next room and now we’ve got three rooms full. I think he’d be amazed.”
Don is survived by his wife and their four children, Michael, Richard, Chris and Jane. He also leaves behind eight grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Richard Balson worked with his father in the family business for more than 40 years and will continue his father’s legacy as the face of Balson’s butchers. Speaking at his father’s funeral Richard said: “Thank you for everything, from bringing us into the world to the legacy you have left behind.”
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