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Dave Binge obit


This eulogy to David Binge, who died on 25 December 2015,  was spoken at his funeral by his son Paul.  The final words were written by David himself a few years before he died.


In 1678 Edward Binge and Elizabeth Picken had a son, William.  William had a son Edward and they lived in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire. Edward's son, also Edward, moved to Dry Drayton where in 1778 Allen was born.

Allen's daughter, Elizabeth, arrived in 1808, and she had a son William. His son David was born in 1864 and in time moved to Croydon.  When David was 38, his son David was born.  With Florence Matthews, this David had three sons, the oldest of whom was Bill – otherwise known to his friends in the choir as Dave.

Why all these Binges, you may ask?  More of that later.

Bill, who was born on 2 October 1928,  began life in West Croydon, but soon moved to South Norwood. His brother Jimmy remembers that Bill wasn't one to play in the street.  Instead he was always found with his head in a book. This served him well as on passing his 11-plus he moved from South Norwood School to Selhurst Grammar school for boys.

David in his thirties

On leaving school Bill worked for the Admiralty in Brighton and at a secret factory in Waddon, while also studying for a HNC in electrical engineering at Croydon Technical College.   A brief spell as a shoe salesman ensued, with one customer returning the shoes he had insisting on buying from the shop window.  These had fallen apart after a few days because the heat of the window had wrecked the glue.

Tales have also been told around this time of cycling trips to Brighton – and back! Other tales related ice-skating on the roads on his way home from the rink in Coulsdon when the buses couldn't run, and running his mother-in-law down to the coast on the back of one of his many motorbikes so that she could visit her husband in hospital.

Returning to electronics, Bill joined ICL in 1952 and remained there until 1971. Meanwhile he met Margaret and they were married in 1957.  They lived at first in Birchanger Road, then above a butcher’s shop in Portland Road. It was here one snowy night, after Bill had rescued the midwife from a drift, that John was born on Christmas Eve 1961.  The family next moved to Brockenhurst Road and a month later, on 22 May 1963, the family was completed when Paul arrived.

Some of Paul's first memories are of building the bonfires for Guy Fawkes Night together with the inevitable scares Margaret always got when the bangers went off.   Life continued largely normally for many years, apart from Bill sneaking off on hush-hush government business to the top secret Fylingdales base in Yorkshire where he trained employees on the American early warning system.   Annual family holidays to Mundesley in Norfolk remain a highlight but otherwise life for the Binges was unremarkable.

Bill's love of singing led him and Margaret to join the Spring Park Choral Society and annual Gilbert and Sullivan fests ensued. The best parts that John and Paul remember were being allowed to clamber under the stage during while the hall was being set up.

In 1971 Bill joined Burroughs Machines which was making the first cash-points.  He stayed until 1984 and in that time made two business trips to the States. The second one was particularly stressful for the family as he was snowed in and only just made it back in time for Christmas.

David (and we must call him this for a while to alleviate confusion) joined Croydon Male Voice Choir in 1975, a passion which continued until the end. A baritone, later a bass, he was a founding member and choir secretary for a time. He sang with the choir at the Royal Albert Hall and, with 800 others, in the Jubilee concert at the Fairfield Halls. His love of choral singing inspired him to join Ruskin Choral Society where he spent many a happy Wednesday evening.  In the past few days it has been said that he will be especially remembered as a helpful and welcoming tutor to new members of both choirs.

David in his eighties

Bill always had a helpful and caring nature.  This led him to become chairman of Croydon Mencap, rubbing shoulders with Jenny Agutter amongst others. In the last few years, Bill helped out tirelessly at the Addiscombe Unity Club where his hitherto unrecognised talents as a bingo caller were put to good use.

Back to where we started: since his retirement in 1983, computers, puzzles and genealogy kept Bill amused. A huge pile of research reveals the Binge lineage back to 1638.  It extends forward to the smallest leaves on the tree,  Abi and Zac, who will remember grandad's magic walking stick and his meanness at draughts. They, Sally, Paul, John and Margaret, and many of you here, will remember Bill as a sharp, witty, studious but ultimately kind-hearted person.

However we should leave the last words to him:

It isn’t usual, I know, for the fellow lying in his coffin to want to  speak to you, but someone will probably stand up and tell you all about my past, where I worked, when I married and had children, and all the other things which make up a person’s life.


I just want to say thank you - to my work colleagues, a lot of  whom have gone on before me, and to all my acquaintances. Thank you to all the friends I have made through the various choirs I have sung in, to John Ruskin Choral Society and Croydon Male Voice Choir who I’m sure will be here today, and to Unity Club companions.


Thank you to my larger family and to those I considered family even though they are not related, like Betty and Eddie. Thank you in particular to John, Paul, Sally and Abi and Zac.

And finally, thank you to my helpmeet and partner of over 50 years, my Margaret. We both know that life is not a bed of roses, but we have stuck together through everything and our love for each other still burns as brightly.


So do not be sad today. I’ve lived a long life and enjoyed most of it. Sing up heartily, as I would if able, and, if you think it appropriate, just say:


“Well done, David”


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