Tributes have been paid to talented trumpeter, Don Blakeson, who played with top orchestras, on the records of superstars such as Shirley Bassey and Rod Stewart and on soundtracks for Hollywood movies before teaching Melton schoolchildren how to play instruments in his retirement.
Family members,friends and former colleagues are expected to pack Loughborough Crematorium next week for a funeral service for Don, who passed away on October 6 aged 81 after a period of illness.
He was a familiar face to many in the town later in life with his regular visits to Miss B’s Tearooms, Ladbrokes bookies and lunches with his horseracing pals at the Sit and Settle cafe.
But many people would have been unaware of the glamorous life he led in his younger years as a professional trumpet player with the BBC Radio Orchestra, the BBC Big Band and the English National Opera Orchestra, as well playing as a session musician with some of the world’s top recording artists.
Don’s widow, Margot, told the Melton Times: “Music was his life and he was very proud of the career that he had.
“We’ve had nearly 100 cards from people and several bouquets and he clearly meant a lot to people.”
He was born in Yorkshire, one of six siblings who were all musically minded, and attended Knaresborough Grammar School.
Don went to the Royal College of Music but his studies were interupted by a three-year spell of National Service with the Blues and Royals cavalry regiment, where he was state trumpeter.
He met Margot, who was a singer, when they were in the same production in 1968 and they were married for 46 years.
His career saw him hold posts such as musical director of the Leicestershire Schools’ Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 1997 and he was a brass band conductor with Desford, Fodens and the City of Coventry.
Don also played on the soundtrack to several well known movies such as The Battle of Britain and Carry On Up The Khyber, as well as playing on the records of artists such as Petula Clark.
The Blakesons moved to Ab Kettleby in 1984 and 13 years later Don retired and became a self-employed music teacher at local schools, notably Brownlow Primary School, where he struck up a close friendship with Fred Parker, another much loved teacher who died in February.
The couple had a daughter, Lucy (45), a talented cello player, who is married to Rob.
Lucy said: “Dad was a very popular man who made friends very easily.
“There have been lots of Facebook tributes to him since he passed away with people saying things like ‘Don changed my life when I was a kid by helping me learn about music.
“We are finding out just how important he was to people.”
Don had a liver transplant in 2008 and had bouts of chemotherapy to treat his cancer in recent years before passing away suddenly at home.
Undertaker Jenny Barnes will walk in front of his coffin as the family cortege leaves the Blakeson home en route to Don’s funeral service, which will be at 2pm on Tuesday, October 29, with donations being sought for the Help Musicians UK charity and Live Life Give Life, a donor charity.
Go online at www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/someonespecial/donblakeson to pledge money to the causes.