“A gentleman who always took the time to stop and talk to you; he was not just being polite, that was Dick. He was genuinely interested in life and people.”
Such was the description of Richard Hodder by the vicar of Congresbury, Rev. Matthew Thomson, when he conducted his funeral service in St. Andrew’s church, Congresbury, on March 19.
The church was filled to overflowing with over 400 mourners, standing two deep at the rear. The Eulogy was read by nephew Rupert Hodder, who flew from Australia to attend, and a poem, The Dash by Linda Ellis, was presented by a cousin, Ness Capp.
Richard was born in Bristol in 1930, and attending Bristol Grammar School,
sport became an important part of his life. With a rugby career in mind, he stayed on an extra year at school to develop his skills, in preparation to moving to the Old Bristolians rugby club.
Evacuated to Congresbury during the war, he met the love of his life, Valerie and developed a love of cricket.
Richard served his two years National Service as a cook in the Navy at Devonport, never going to sea, but representing Devonport Services at rugby. The caps he won were displayed on his coffin at the funeral service.
Following National Service Richard went into his father’s family butchers’ business at Lawrence Hill, learning his trade. When only 21, his father died of Muscular Dystrophy at the young age of 47.
The flagship shop of the family business in Mary-le-Port Street, now Castle Street, was lost in the blitz, and the business struggled after his father’s death. Richard found employment with Alan Wise butchers in Whiteladies Road.
Richard and Val were married in St. Andrew’s Church, Congresbury in 1953.
His rugby life continued, playing for the Old Bristolians, and he captained the lst Fifteen for a number of years. He was invited to play for Bristol, but decided to remain at club level. The Bristol Evening Post reported that he was the best West Country lock forward never to have played for Bristol.
In the summer, Richard played for Congresbury Cricket Club and captained the 2nd XI.
In 1973, Richard and Val purchased the butchers business in Brinsea Road and moved to the village with their three sons, Simon, Nicholas and Robert, and his mother, Katie.
Robert took over the family business in 1993, giving Richard and Val time to spend walking with friends in Scotland, the North of England and the Scilly Isles.
In retirement Richard still enjoyed helping in the shop and talking to customers, but found time to support Somerset cricket team.
He leaves a widow, three sons, six grandchildren and one great grandson.