Burnham Overy church warden’s loyal service remembered

A dedicated church warden has been buried at 7.45am - the same time he opened the village church every morning for more than 30 years.

David Bunkle, 75, only missed one Sunday's duty in all his years at St Clement's church in Burnham Overy Town, near Fakenham.

He was determined to continue in the role even after he was diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer in March and was still volunteering just days before his death.

Mr Bunkle, a member of many community groups and charities, was buried at the church in a quiet ceremony at 7.45am last Monday after dying at home on the previous Friday.

His wife Bridget, who shared the role of warden for many years, said: 'He didn't miss many days opening the church, only when he was on holiday or in hospital. He tried to do it right until the end.

'He never moaned about his misfortunes and always got on with life. He would say he was an ordinary man, but he always gave his time.'

Mr Bunkle, who was born in South Creake, was appointed church warden on his wedding anniversary in 1978 after he and Bridget, known as Bid, were married there in 1959.

Most Read

The couple, who have two daughters and two grandsons, both served the church for more than 30 years and Mrs Bunkle has been PCC treasurer for decades.

'St Clements meant a lot to us both. It's a family thing,' Mrs Bunkle said.

Mr Bunkle was a familiar sight around the Burnhams and could often be seen out and about on his mobility scooter.

He used the scooter to distribute the village newsletter, deliver charity envelopes and collect for the Poppy Appeal.

His daughter Alirae said her father always kept the churchyard in tip-top condition, but was very unassuming.

She said: 'People didn't see or know what he did. He didn't blow his own trumpet, he just knuckled down and did the jobs which needed doing.'

Mr Bunkle suffered from arthritis for many years and underwent a shoulder replacement and five hip replacements, the first aged just 33.

But he never let the condition hold him back, serving in he RAF before working in a local builder's office for 40 years.

As well as a passion for cricket and travelling, Mr Bunkle had a keen interest in history, visiting World War One battle sites in Normandy, France and Belgium.

He fulfilled his ambition of seeing the national memorial arboretum, in Staffordshire, and the Shuttleworth Collection museum after learning his cancer was inoperable.

Mr Bunkle was a member of the British Legion, the Royal Air Force Association and the RAF Police Association.

When he was no longer able to take part in the Norfolk Churches Trust annual cycle ride, he would volunteer to clean the brass and man the church.

'He did it two weeks before he died. I don't know how on earth he did it. He was determined,' Mrs Bunkle added.