Tributes to former Eastbourne tourism boss

David Lake, who was photographed by the Herald some 30 years ago
David Lake, who was photographed by the Herald some 30 years ago

Tributes have been paid to David Lake who dedicated all of his working life to public service in Eastbourne and passed away recently aged 75.

Richard Gallagher said this week, “People might not recognise his name, but they will certainly have seen, participated in, or enjoyed one of the many events David helped organise and run over the past five decades.

“Eastbourne is a poorer place for his passing, but those who knew him, and of the decades of public service he gave to the town, as well as those who delight in the events he helped establish, should celebrate his life and achievements.”

David was born in April 1940 in Eastbourne, the son of Alf Lake, the general manager of Eastbourne Pier.

Leaving school in 1956, David worked in Eastbourne council’s Weights and Measures Office, transferring to the Tourism Department in 1960. It would be here that he would make his mark on the town, leaving a legacy still strong today.

He worked at the Devonshire Park Theatre, both on administration and front of house duties. His background helping his father on the pier made him a natural choice to look after the council’s outside attractions, and, within a few years, his area of responsibility covered much of Eastbourne’s seafront.

“David had the uncanny knack of taking a small idea, recognising its potential, and creating something special,” said Richard. “With the staunch support of a dedicated events team, such town staples as the Eastbourne Show and the Eastbourne Fun Run flourished.

“There are, however, two events with which he would be inextricably linked – tennis and Airbourne.

“David - he was never Mr Lake to his colleagues - was responsible for a variety of attractions, as diverse as the Redoubt Fortress Museum, with its spectacular 1812 fireworks concerts, to the Bandstand and Treasure Island.”

Taking early retirement in 1992, he was able to enjoy his passions, travel, gardening and bowls.

Retirement also saw him take an active role in the Eastbourne Lions, where his prowess in organisation proved a great asset. Terms as both president and secretary, did much to help bolster strong links with other Lions groups, both nationally and internationally.

Richard said, “Behind every good man there is a good woman, in David’s case, there were two. He met Janet Tregenza, also working at the council in 1956. Friends for ten years, five weeks after their first date they got engaged, marrying in October 1966.

“In retirement, the pair of them would enjoy cruises to destinations worldwide – New Zealand being a particular favourite. The second great love of David’s life, their daughter Jackie, was born in 1972, and who remained the apple of her father’s eye.”

Mr Lake’s funeral is on August 5 at Eastbourne Crematorium at 12.15pm. Family flowers only but donations can be made to St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

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