Posted: 24.01.21 at 10:40 by The Editor
TRIBUTE has been paid to RAF veteran Eddy Coull, 86, who is widely known across Thurrock for his work every year for the annual Wings appeal, following his death last night.
Mr Coull, from Basildon, was a stalwart of the RAF Association Club on Southend Road in Grays.
He had been isolating since March after suffering a stroke from which he made a good recovery but unfortunately contracted Covid-19 recently. He required hospital treatment but only a few days ago was released to home care but he passed away last night (23 January).
Every year he organised distribution and collection of many collection boxes for the appeal and was honoured by the RAF Association in 2012 with its highest accolade, a National Presidential Certificate.
He was known across the whole of south Essex for his work for the Association, which looks after the interests of RAF veterans.
For many years he was helped by his wife Maureen, an equally popular figure whose death was mourned by many in 2015.
Because of coronavirus the appeal was muted last year but in 2019 Mr Coull showed just how well-known he was across the region with his thanks to local communities for raising more than £7,000 for that year's appeal.
He said: “On behalf of the president, officers and members of the Royal Air Forces Association (Thurrock Branch), I would like to thank the people of Grays, Thurrock and the surrounding districts for their generous donations to our “RAFA Wings Appeal” 2019.
“I also thank the Grays town centre, Purfleet Heritage Centre and Military Museum, Horndon Feast and Fayre, the managers of Morrisons in Corringham and Grays, Sainsbury in Chafford Hundred, Coalhouse Fort and Lakeside, Langdon Hills, Mayflower and Pitsea Tescos.
“Also to the people of Billericay, Corringham, Wickford and Stanford-le-Hope who donated to our street collections in their town centres.
“Thanks also go to the shops and public houses that kindly accommodated our “Blue Tins” and to the families supporting our “Home Collecting Boxes”. And to the organisations and individuals who sponsor us via various other fund-raising activities throughout the year.
“Finally, I would like to thank the cadets and staff of Basildon, Billericay, Grays and Stanford-le-Hope ATC Squadron for help and valuable support."
All those organisations, clubs, individuals and businesses will be saddened to hear of his death and his efforts for the Association will leave a significant gap in the support network.
That was recognised by RAFA Thurrock branch veteran Jim Gooding, a 95-year-old Second World War veteran himself, who said today: "Eddy appeared to be in good spirits and I spoke to him only yesterday after he had returned home from Brentwood. We were making plans for this year's appeal and how we would make up for last year. That's a measure of the man he was, thinking of others before himself.
"It is a very sad day. Eddy did an amazing amount of work and the gap he leaves is impossible to fill. My condolences, and those of so many people in Thurrock connected with the RAF, go to his family daughters Sharon and Lyn."
Maureen McPherson, Methodist local preacher and Air Training Corps Padre, who came to know Mr Coull well in recent years, added: "Eddy was a wonderful man. One of an ever-dwindling band of veteran service people who put service before themselves in their later years."
And Vanessa McGee, co-ordinator of the annual Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Grays, who often liaised with Eddy as the two organisations arranged collections, said: "I only got to know Eddy a few years ago but I quickly came to respect him and admire all the things that he represented. He will be sadly missed by many."
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price joined those paying tribute, saying: "I am so sad that Eddy has left us. For many years he could be seen at every community event cheerfully manning his stall in support of the Wings appeal. He was an amazing supporter of the RAFA. He will be much missed."