Don's tales reveal love of countryside

WHEN you read Don Stocker's evocative descriptions of the countryside, it is as if you are walking down the lane beside him.It was a compliment of which he is proud, paid to him by a reader of his first book and he says sums up exactly what he is looking for when he puts pen to paper.

WHEN you read Don Stocker's evocative descriptions of the countryside, it is as if you are walking down the lane beside him.

It was a compliment of which he is proud, paid to him by a reader of his first book and he says sums up exactly what he is looking for when he puts pen to paper.

With a lifetime of experiences now to draw on, Mr Stocker has fulfilled the advice given by an encouraging teacher in his schooldays - and has just published his second book, called One Last Chrysanthemum.

Mr Stocker said: “He was a magnificent teacher at Ipswich School. He said, 'Stocker, you have got to do some writing sometime or I will haunt you forever'. He was a marvel.”


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But at the time the writing was some years away.

After an eventful time in the RAF Bomber Command as a bomb aimer in the second world war, he turned to a career in teaching in peacetime - spending 30 years at Causton Junior in Felixstowe.

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He married Mary Bayley in the town in 1947 and has lived there since, playing cricket, rugby and hockey for Felixstowe, and constantly recognised by former pupils, all now grown up.

It was his love of sport which led to his first regular writings - reporting the weekly ups and downs of the resort's cricketers in a colourful style for The Felixstowe Times.

One Last Chrysanthemum though reveals his real love, for nature, the countryside and a Suffolk which has changed much in places and not at all in others since he roamed its fields, lanes and byways as a youngster, catapult in hand, always ready for mischief.

He said: “I was a dead-shot with a catapult. I even carried one with me in the RAF. I slid it down the side of my flying boots and thought if I was ever shot down it would be useful for killing rabbits!”

He once took £5 off a man with a revolver after they squared up to see who could knock ten empty beer bottles of a wall - the man with the gun hit eight and Mr Stocker's catapult smashed nine.

His writings take a gentle and philosophical look at the countryside, finding the extraordinary in the common, poetry and drama in its wildlife and plants.

Now 91, he still swims in the sea occasionally though he hung up his cricket bat six years ago after his last innings. He loves spending time with his three children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild, and sitting outside the beach hut he has had for 42 years.

He said: “It's been a long life and a good life - I always say you make what you can of that life.”

One Last Chrysanthemum costs £5 and is available at Magpie Books and Treasure Chest in Felixstowe; Ipswich and Felixstowe Tourist Information Centres; or by e-mail donstocker@btinternet.com

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