June 1931-May 2020
Known to most as Dougie or Digger he was born at Forrest Farm, Swinbrook to Robert Charles and Laura Esther Coombes. Dougie had three siblings, George, Ellen and Diana. His life revolved around farming and all aspects of country life. School was not high on his agenda, farming was his first love.
When his father passed away in 1952, Dougie was 21. The family pulled together to keep everything going. He used to say it was a difficult time but he had lots of enjoyable memories working in the field. When certain jobs needed doing, everyone rallied together to get it done even if it meant getting the neighbours involved. He used to tell stories of how he went ferreting and pigeon shooting with his brother George on a Sunday morning, a quieter time of the week. He gained many friends over the years through his love of country pursuits.
Dougie moved to Heath Farm in Green Lane in 1969 and marriage resulted in three children, Roger, Richard and Esther. This was a busy period in his life bringing up three children and running the farm. When not working on the farm in Milton he would go and work on other farms locally.
Over his time at Heath Farm many local children kept their ponies there. Dougie would always offer his advice if needed and lend a hand mucking out. He enjoyed seeing them all having fun and often stopped what he was doing to chat to them and their parents.
Gardening was a passion of his, both flowers and vegetables; the more colourful the flowers the better. When the children were small they can remember podding hundreds of peas and beans for the freezer. It was a way of being a bit self-sufficient and saving money, both very important to Dougie. This activity continued when his grandchildren arrived. Together they went blackberry picking in late summer, all coming back with black faces and hands. More eaten than collected. He doted on them all, even teaching some of them to drive.
In recent years he enjoyed going to the Day Centre and spoke about all his friends there, especially Katherine Gidman who helped him so much.
Dad, Grandad or Dougie, however people remember him, he will always be remembered for making time for people. Having a chat or getting your leg pulled, he would stop and find something to talk about whether it was about gardening, what you had been doing or the weather. A character who will be greatly missed.
December 2020 – January 2021