Tributes to journalist and Battle charity campaigner

Tributes have been paid to a 'charming' father, charity campaigner and newspaper journalist, whose career spanned 50 years.

Donald Vear, of North Trade Road, Battle, passed away in St Michael's Hospice on July 15 after suffering from Leukaemia.

Don was born in 1930 in Hale, Cheshire, one of four children, and the family moved to Winchester.

Don followed his father and brother Ken into the Air Force for his National Service before again following in Ken's footsteps into a career in newspaper journalism.

Don started work at the Hampshire Observer at 18, where his brother worked as a reporter, before moving to Kings Lynn to work for the Eastern Daily Press.

While at the paper, he was moved to the Thetford edition where he met first wife Sue.

The couple moved to Chippenham where Don took on the role as an evening reporter at the Advertiser, which he described as "fast moving and exciting".

After a year he returned to the Eastern Daily Press, living in Diss, before taking on roles as sub editor and sports sub-editor at Norwich.

During his time in the Norfolk area, he covered The Great Flood in 1953, in which eight people died off the east coast.

Don broke into national newspapers in 1962, when he got a job as a sub editor at the Daily Telegraph.

He worked at the publication for a number of years in several different roles, including copy taster, chief sub editor, assistant night editor and also night edited the paper at the weekends.

Don met second wife Anne Campbell-Dixon in 1974.

The pair met at the Telegraph, where Anne's dad, critic George Campbell-Dixon, had also worked.

Don had faced the difficult task of forming an emergency plan, as union strikes meant there would only be a skeleton staff working that night.

Anne was angry that she had not been told of an emergency meeting and by way of an apology, Don took her to dinner - and the rest was history.

The couple married and had two children, daughter Georgiana in 1976 and son Campbell, who died while very young.

Don moved to the Sunday Telegraph in 1977, as a night editor, in order to spend more time with his family.

The couple moved to Caldbec Hill in Battle and Don commuted to London, but they parted in the late 1980s.

Don met third wife Christine at Battle railway station in 1988 and they lived in Hove before returning to Battle, living in North Trade Road.

Don took early retirement in the late 1980s, but continued to work as a freelance reporter right up until 2000.

In 1999 Christine set up Knitting for Kisiizi, a charity which sent knitted items to Kisiizi Hospital in Uganda, supported by Don.

Christine began by knitting a few small baby vests in 1999 and soon 1,200 parcels and more than 1,000 banana boxes of aid, many from willing knitters, had been dispatched by KfK.

Christine passed away in November 2007, following a battle with oesophageal cancer, and Don took over most of the day to day administration of KfK, arranging the collection, packing and dispatching of all the colourful knitting garments and shawls.

Don wrote and sent the regular colourful newsletter to all his 'knitters' and arranged fundraising coffee mornings.

In a letter to friends of Knitting for Kisiizi, the charity said: "Dear Don and Christine, Knitting for Kisiizi and all the people whose lives you have touched, will miss you deeply."

In recent years Don worked as a volunteer on the Kent and East Sussex Railway in Bodiam and for a while was a member of the Royal Air Force Association.

He was diagnosed with Leukaemia in November 2009 and spent several spells in St Michael's Hospice in St Leonards.

Georgiana said: "He was incredibly stoic through all of it and in good humour for most of the time and it's a testament to the man he was."

Don went into spontaneous remission for a brief while, allowing him to enjoy his 80th birthday with his family before the illness returned.

Georgiana said: "He was always dedicated to everything he did, either as a husband, father, journalist or with the charity.

"He was a really good newspaper man and just a really good person in general."

Don's funeral will take place at St Mary's in Battle on July 28, starting at 2.30pm.

All are welcome to attend, please send flowers or donations to St Michael's Hospice.