I can’t let today end without marking the passing of Dene Turner, who died in his sleep this weekend. Dene was Facilities Manager at Salisbury Cathedral and an Asst. District Commissioner for Salisbury cub scouts, his own troop being the 8th Salisbury cub scouts. I knew Dene since my mum directed one or two gang shows and my subsequent joining of the Salisbury Methodist Church youth club as a teenager, he and his brother Gary were always watchful of the newbies and were instrumental in helping me to discover there was more to the youth club nights than just the hall with the table tennis tables in it (I’d never seen ping pong before and was mesmerised!). Dene gently introduced me to people, made sure I wans’t left on my own and made sure Roger Hitchens walked me home safely.
The Turner boys and their sister Katy had a bit of a talent for showbiz, before I went to drama school I was in a panto with them, Aladdin. Dene was ‘genie of the ring’ and had a dance routine with the choreographer. I have a photo somewhere, but the memory of him whipping the choreographer round the tiny stage in fake tan and shiny sequined tights is an enduring one. Dene’s parents Graham & Beryl were nothing short of extraordinary at whizzing up costumes and ran the Playhouse Costume hire shop ‘Togs’ for many years. Although we weren’t close friends I never passed Dene on the street without a cheery joke or wave and a brief chat. It says a lot about someone, when you discover they are a scout master. To have been so, unstintingly, for the years that Dene has been speaks more about him than anything I can say, that requires a selflessnes and commitment that very few people possess these days. Never brash or loud, just a quiet determination to get on and get things done, as and when needed, and humour, always humour.
His early theatrical experiences came in handy when he started working for the Cathedral, (not least in dealing with all those dramatic personalities) but also in the ‘set building’ that was required for various events, exhibitions and extravaganza’s. He worked to finish things off in his own time and when four years ago my husband was charmed into stage managing a community outdoor event for Churches Together, he was impressed by Dene’s diligence and diplomacy in helping to get the show on amongst the political wranglings of ‘high church’ sensibilities.
He will be missed by those who knew him well and equally by those whose lives he touched more lightly and there are plenty of those. I saw him last Wednesday in the Cathedral Cloisters, as a parent helper on a school trip, he joked and smiled as always and it was good to see him, as always.