Don was born in the London Hospital in Holborn in February 1929, the elder son of Joe, a retired pro. footballer and cricketer, and Irene Shaylor. They lived in Clapton, East London, until the outbreak of the Second World War, when Don was evacuated to Much Hadham in Herts. There, he took his scholarship exam and joined Hackney Downs School in Kings Lynn in 1940. He played cricket and football for the school and enjoyed living in the fine old town and visiting surrounding villages on cricket fixtures. It was there that he learned to appreciate the countryside, which was to affect his retirement so much, many years later. Leaving school as the War ended, Filliston joined the advertising agency, S.H. Benson in Kingsway. On becoming 18, he was conscripted into the Royal Navy and signed on for 7 years. In 1948 he was drafted to the Persian Gulf, where the Navy stationed three ‘bird class’ frigates, HMS Wild Goose, Flamingo and Wren. Don was the Flag Officer’s Writer, touring all three ships and reporting back to the Admiralty on political as well as naval situations. Many large and small sheikdoms were visited, as oil began to flow, turning poor fishing communities into millionaires. After two years he returned to Chatham and joined the ‘Home Fleet’, sailing far and wide on three months tours, on the cruisers HMS Swiftsure and Cleopatra. They include memories of circumnavigating Britain in 1951, in the ‘Festival of Britain’ year and going to Helsinki with Prince Philip in 1952, for the Olympic Games.
Don left the Navy in 1954 and joined the multi-national giant, Unilever, where he worked as a sales manager, running teams in London and the South, until his retirement in 1989.
He married Dee in 1955 and they have two daughters and three grandchildren. They moved to Storrington in 1983 and joined the parish conservation society, who voluntarily take care of National Trust heathland and Horsham District woodland. In 1984 he joined the committee and in 1985 became the Chairman, with 400 members. Don made it a priority to ‘grow’ the Society and after 20 years in the Chair, there were almost 2000 members, making Sandgate Conservation Society the biggest parish based society in England. This provided a boost to voluntary help in their lovely open spaces and gave the Society much more ‘clout’ in fighting off inappropriate planning applications. In 1997 the Horsham District presented Don with a certificate for ‘unstinting service and lasting contribution’. In 2003, he was awarded an MBE, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for ‘Services to Conservation in West Sussex’. Then, at his retirement from the Chair in April 2005, the parish council awarded him the Honorary Citizenship of Storrington/Sullington. The Parish Chairman said ‘the award had only been made once before. It is for those who make a special contribution to our community’. The National Trust’s Director General sent a letter, read by her South East Area Manager, presenting Don and Dee with a ‘Lifetime Membership’ package. In his reply, Don said that volunteering is essential to good citizenship at all ages and for a civilized society. There is a relationship between volunteering and happiness. It builds esteem by bringing out and developing skills and makes use of so much talent, not least in those of us retired.
A decade on, at 87, Don heeds the words of his grandfather Joe, an old cricketer for Staffordshire and the MCC, who, for many years, up to the age of 100 in 1962, umpired for the BBC and The Lords Taverners, to become the world’s oldest cricket umpire. He said, ‘always have a deep and abiding interest – it’s the secret of longevity’.
Nowadays Don composes poems for The West Sussex Gazette, who have published over 100 and he sends them to our Willie Watkins, for the ‘Clove’s Lines’. Who said there wasn’t a life after retirement!
Offshore Tax Havens.
(Sunny Places – Shady Deals)
Panama Papers now reveal,
The corrupt elite, playing with zeal.
Fiscal systems to launder by stealth,
To protect and hide, ill-gotten wealth.
Hide the source; hide the real owner’s names.
Avoid paying tax by these ‘offshore games’.
Sell a country’s assets, as their prize.
Store illicit wealth from prying eyes.
Pay the arms dealers and drug cartels,
With no links back, to ring alarm bells.
Let criminals stay ‘one step ahead’,
Dodging justice, as they lightly tread.
We need legal frameworks that won’t crash,
To seek and find flows, of ‘dirty cash’.
The ‘Anti Corruption Summit’ in May,
Could be the start of a ‘brave new day’.
Will the honest leaders, start to lead?
Patience of the masses wears thin indeed.
We’ve watched World bankers gamble and fail,
For which the tax payers had to bail.
We’ve seen M.P.’s fiddle their expenses
And newspaper barons lose their senses.
‘Pay as you Earn’ families easily bleed,
Patience of the masses wears thin indeed.
Don Filliston. April 2016