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Life of service to country and community

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

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YOUNG and old will form guards of honour at the funeral of South Devon war hero and community volunteer Cyril Perry.

Children and tutors from South Devon College will join Normandy veterans and members of the Royal British Legion in honour of Cyril (pictured), who died last week aged 86 after a lifetime of service both to his country and a long list of local community organisations.

Cyril, of Foxhole, Paignton, passed away after a long and brave battle with illness just a week before the 60th anniversary of his marriage to wife Anne.

He was known to a generation of schoolchildren for his work both as a trainer for cycle proficiency tests and for his work in schools talking about his war experiences.

His final talk at South Devon College was last November, despite serious health issues and months of hospitalisation.

Born in Torquay, Cyril worked on the railways from the age of 14.

At 17, he joined the Royal Army Service Corps and served as a Desert Rat in North Africa and in the Normandy landings before pushing through in the liberation of Germany.

After demob in 1947, he rejoined the railways where he worked for a total of 48 years, and became chairman and secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen.

In Foxhole, he set up and ran the local youth club from 1999 to 2007.

Recently he was awarded a long service medal for his work as chairman, vice-chairman and committee member of Torbay Neighbourhood Watch.

Other activities included more than 25 years' work with the industrial tribunal panel, chairman of Torquay United Supporters' Club Paignton section for five years, member and president of Paignton and Torbay Trades Councils and signalmen representative on the National Executive Committee.

His son, Martin, said: "We've always been extremely proud of dad, for what he stood for and what he did in his life.

"He will be so missed by us all, but we are reassured that we know he lived an extremely full life and one which appears to have had such a positive impact on so many people.

"He was always there for people and always community-minded. It was extraordinary the range of things he was involved in, from the children's stuff at Foxhole to the industrial tribunals. But at the same time family was everything to him.

"It has been moving the number of cards we have had from neighbours on the Foxhole estate. People there always showed him so much respect."

Tony Rider, honorary secretary of the Normandy Veterans' Association in South Devon, said: "Cyril was the standard bearer. He was always a great help in welfare collection for the welfare funds.

"Everything he did he was totally devoted to. Everything he did, it was with 100 per cent."

Major Ron Goodwin, of the Paignton branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "He was a brilliant guy. After he finished his tremendous army career he did so much for everyone else.

"Of all the people I've met in 50 years' military service, I have never met anyone else like him.

"All I can say is that I will miss him so much because he was always giving me cheeky tellings-off with a twinkle in his eye."

Paul Hammond, who ran Torbay Neighbourhood Watch together with Cyril, said: "He had a great sense of public duty and was very, very hard working.

"If you wanted a volunteer, you asked Cyril. He was a very strong supporter of Neighbourhood Watch."

Cyril leaves his wife Anne, daughter Jane, son Martin and grand-daughters Kelly and Laura.

The funeral at Paignton Parish Church will be held on Wednesday at 2.30pm.

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