THE town came to a standstill as people gathered to bid their final farewells at the funeral of Worksop Sea Cadet chairman David Gillert MBE on Tuesday.
David passed away peacefully aged 65 on 25th September at his Shepherds Avenue home in Worksop following a long battle with lung disease.
His funeral cortege was escorted by a Standard Party from Devonshire Street to St Anne’s Church where it was saluted by a Guard of Honour.
Speaking to the Guardian days before his funeral, his family paid tribute to a ‘wonderful and caring man’ who dedicated his life to Worksop Sea Cadets.
Wife Val Gillert, who handed over her Commanding Officer post to their son Simon three years ago, said she was immensely proud of everything David had achieved.
“Even throughout his illness he never stopped doing his Sea Cadet work - in fact it kept him going,” she said.
“He worked tirelessly for the unit and raised several thousands of pounds for the Cadets and made it what it is today.”
Creswell-born David worked at Whitwell pit and later as a lorry driver but soon got bitten by the Worksop Sea Cadets bug around 30 years ago when his daughter Sarah joined, aged 12.
Said Val: “He started working on public relations and then became chairman a few weeks later.”
“He then roped me in and we have been doing it ever since.”
David, also a member of Welbeck Sailing Club, worked closely with the cadets over the years, from being RYA Principal to power and sailor instructor, and it was his hard work and dedication which earnt him an MBE in 2007.
He travelled to London with his family to collect his award in recognition of his Services to Worksop Sea Cadets.
Said Val: “It was such a proud moment for us all. I remember the Queen saying to him with a smile: ‘Worksop isn’t near the sea’ although she knew we practised at Welbeck Lake.”
David was sadly diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) nine years ago, but found the strength to carry on through love for his family.
Val said he was immensely proud of his five children and six grandchildren and would do anything for his loved ones.
“We have always been a happy family - people said we were like the Waltons. Our doors were always open with kids coming and going, and he loved it.” she said.
“Everybody said he was a man with nine lives. We saw him in hospital so many times but he always bounced back. He didn’t want to die because he had everything to live for.”
“Bassetlaw Hospital and ambulance staff have been absolutely fantastic throughout and been there for us all the way through.”
Added daughter Sarah: “Dad was on a life support machine when I celebrated my 40th birthday but he woke up and opened his eyes.”
“He really went downhill in July this year and we were told he wasn’t going to make it.”
“But he rallied round and insisted on going to Somerset on holiday. We had a lovely 10 days there and many special memories.”
David’s children Sarah and Simon, also representing his daughter Claire, gave eulogies at his funeral, led by Rev Paddy MacBain followed by a service at Sherwood Crematorium.
Val said the family had been ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘touched’ by tribute messages for David which had flooded in.
“We have had cards from all over the world, from Spain to Australia - he touched that many people’s lives.”
“We would like to thank everyone who gave donations and will use them to buying a boat which will be named after him,” she said.