David Francombe remembered:
It was just a year ago, on the first Saturday of the 2020 Festival, during rehearsals for a concert that David Francombe was due to attend as reviewer, that we received the sad and sudden news that he had passed away.
David came to Petersfield with his first wife, Miriam, in 1965, and quickly established a place as a leading member of the town’s arts activities and the congregation at St Peter’s Church. His first involvement was with the Lion and Unicorn Players, but by 1976 he had started a five-year stint as conductor of Harting Choral Society, which brought him in contact with the Festival. He joined the Festival committee, serving on it until 1985 and then again as vice-chairman from 1998 to 2004.
Familiar with the technical side of Petersfield Festival Hall, David masterminded the Festival’s lighting for many years. Later, he showed his versatility and readiness to help by looking after the Festival Friends for two years, editing and designing the programmes for three Festivals, reviewing concerts, providing liaison with St Peter’s for the Festival’s lunchtime and evening recitals, and latterly managing the priority postal bookings.
All this time, the Festival benefited from his intimate knowledge of the town and his wisdom as an organiser. After Miriam’s premature death in 1976, David devoted himself to the work of a single dad, striking up a companionship with Jillie Booth at a Festival meeting in 1983; this further cemented his Festival connections, since Jillie’s mother, Kay McLeod was Festival secretary. David and Jillie married in 1997 and together they enjoyed twenty-three years of happy and exceptionally busy retirement.
In the reviews of the choral concerts that he wrote between 2012 and 2019, which we shall often be quoting in these recollections, David brought a wide knowledge of choral repertoire and a discriminating ear, together with an appreciation, born of experience, of all that is involved when amateur musicians embark on such big enterprises.
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