A devoted West Wight couple, who were involved with the Abbeyfield West Wight Society, have died within a month of each other. Derek and Shirley Bannister were well known for their charity work and participating within the local community.
Derek, 85, was born in Ventnor and started an apprenticeship with the town’s International Stores before moving to the company’s shop in Shanklin where he met Shirley, a year younger than him. Derek also managed the shop in East Cowes and later Freshwater where the couple lived for 59 years. He eventually left the International Stores and went on to run the corner shop, newsagents and sweet shop in the village.
Shirley was born in Woolwich and trained as a tailoress, working at Dickens & Jones in Oxford Street, before moving to the Island as a teenager. She was well known in the village for her craftwork and made both her daughters’ wedding dresses, as well as a variety of Freshwater Carnival Queens’ dresses.
They were renowned for their charity work with Derek driving the Tennyson Ambulance for many years. He was a president of West Wight Rotary Club, where he was a member for 49 years, as well as a trustee, and was treasurer of Abbeyfield West Wight Society for more than 20 years.
Shirley was a volunteer at Wessex Cancer Shop in Freshwater, sold baby milk at the local baby clinic and doctor’s surgery and was a home help. She belonged to the Inner Wheel and Mother’s Union and was social secretary of Abbeyfield West Wight Society. As a trustee, she also arranged outings for the residents.
The couple celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in 2018, with a surprise party organised by their children, and also received a card from Her Majesty the Queen.
They had four children: Debbie, Julie, Andrew and Stuart, six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.