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Obituary

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: July 19, 2012

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Lieutenant-Commander James Henry Summerlee, Sennen

MANY people gathered at Sennen Parish Church on Friday, June 8, for the funeral of the late Mr James Henry (Jim) Summerlee, a much-loved member of the local community, who passed away on Monday, May 28, aged 86.

The Reverend Harry Burlton officiated at the service with Mrs J Abbott playing the organ; Jim's nephew, Gordon Smith, and son, Kevin, spoke in tribute to him.

The service was followed by private cremation at Treswithian Downs Crematorium, Camborne.

Jim, as he was widely known locally, joined the Navy in 1943, and was 19½ years old when he got his 'Wings'.

He then went on to do advanced training as a fighter pilot.

At one time he was part of a Mosquito squadron and also flew naval helicopters.

During his time in the Royal Navy he met a young Wren named Valerie Smith whom he later married.

During the Korean War he saw active service flying from an Australian aircraft carrier; and in the Suez Crisis he was Mentioned in Dispatches for his part in rescuing many of the injured.

In 1958 he changed to civilian aircraft and did lots of what was at the time cutting-edge flying, such as crop spraying.

In 1964 he moved to Cornwall, working for British European Airways, and was the first person to fly a helicopter carrying passengers.

Jim and Val and their two sons, Kevin and Mike, moved to Sennen where the two boys enjoyed growing up with lots of surfing and water sports; Jim loved his fishing.

He was involved with the Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station and was honorary secretary there for many years.

Both he and Val loved birds and animals.

The pair of them rescued several foxes over the years.

During his time flying from the heliport in Penzance he completed more than 30,000 crossings to the Isles of Scilly without incident.

It was Jim who first spotted the Torrey Canyon as it was wrecked on the Sevenstones reef. It was no surprise that both Jim and Val helped rescue and clean many of the birds so badly affected during this time when the area was devastated by the oil on the beaches.

Sadly just after Jim retired there was a serious helicopter crash on the route to the Isles of Scilly.

Jim enjoyed his retirement and was often to be seen out walking on the beach or the cliffs with his beloved dogs as both he and Val loved the out-door life.

Both Kevin and Mike emigrated to New Zealand and Jim and Val had many happy trips there to see them and later their wives and much-loved grandchildren.

He was a staunch member of the Royal British Legion and a standard bearer attended the funeral.

Sadly, a knee injury that he sustained as a young man plagued him in later years and caused him serious mobility problems.

However despite this he maintained his cheery sense of humour.

He was a much-loved member of the local community.

He will be sadly missed by Val, his family, and all who knew him.

Attending: Mrs Val Summerlee, wife; Mr Kevin Summerlee, son; Mr Mike Summerlee, son; Lyndon Summerlee, grandson; Gordon Smith, nephew; Bev Short, niece.

Others attending: Ann McMaster, rep June and Michael Hicks, Margery Hicks, Brian and Marian Simpson; Bob and Val Hiles, David Lutey; Lieutenant-Commander John Hone RN, retired, and Mrs Joy Hone, rep the Fleet Air Arm Officers' Association; Tony Woodhams, rep Ken Babbage, Douglas Williams; Tim George, Ron Rogers, Mrs M Shannon, Paul Row, John Clemens; Mrs J Angove, rep Captain Stephen Angove; John Boase, Desmond Reynolds; Bobby Fox, rep St Levan Lodge, Joyce Prince; Mr and Mrs J Dungey, Rosemary Gower-Jones, Tim Blain, Astrid Grant, John and Sue Smith, Margaret Powell, Barbara Powell, Lisa and Rob Muir, Kathy and Terry Hooper; Anthony Howlett, district nurse, rep Penzance District Nurses; David Bridgewater, Pat Common, Mr and Mrs Flewitt, Mr and Mrs Robbie Robson, Phil Baxter; Gary Burt, standard bearer, Royal British Legion; Muriel Matthews, rep Peter George, Clive Curnow, Carolyn and Paul Ladner; Mr H Wearne, rep Betty Wearne; Richard and Angela King, Colin Trahair, Ken Trahair, Kingsley Caddy, Alan Richards; Mr and Mrs A Nevitt, rep Jack Williams, the Royal British Legion; John George; Jennifer Barker, rep Roger and family; Janice Harvey, rep Royal British Legion; Captain Terry Nelson, retired; Nelson Eddy, rep Mary Eddy; Mrs D Rowe, rep Mr and Mrs A Rowe; John and Margaret Upham, Mr and Mrs D Cameron, Chris Clemens, May Carson, Val Puddiphatt, Glen and Michelle Laity, Martin Blowers, Heather Moffatt, Lesley Wilson, Paul Leggo, Eddie Rose; Val Lutey, rep Blue Haven; Lisa Gordon, Martyn and Wyn Jones; Liz Trenary, rep British Airways; Mrs Lloyd, Mr and Mrs J Abbott, Mr Peter Jackson, Keith and Di Thornton, Nick Upham.

Representing the RNLI: Derek Angove, rep Anthony, Luke and Stephen; John Chappell, rep Sennen Cove Lifeboat Station; Tim Stevens; Godfrey Oliver, rep Wendy; Richard Brown, Peter Puddiphatt, Daniel Shannon; Hedley and Veronica Hutchings, rep Barbara and Ron Warner, Tom and Julie Maddern, the Friday Lunch Club, Mrs D Curnow, Hayley and Wayne; John Chope, rep Maud, Malcolm and Brian.

Bearers: John Pender, Chris Angove, Philip Shannon, Terry George.

Unable to attend: daughters-in-law and grandchildren in New Zealand and Hawaii.

Family flowers only. Donations were accepted for St Just Royal British Legion.

Funeral directors: WC Matthews & Son, Sennen.

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