Tributes paid to David Warnes - “He wasn’t one of the best, he was the best”

PUBLISHED: 08:47 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:38 31 July 2018

David Warnes in his garden at home. Picture: YVONNE GRIMES

David Warnes in his garden at home. Picture: YVONNE GRIMES


Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a lifelong welder, boilermaker and shipyard worker described by his family as “the best”.

David Warnes showing off his home-made trike. Picture: YVONNE GRIMESDavid Warnes showing off his home-made trike. Picture: YVONNE GRIMES

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a lifelong welder, boilermaker and shipyard worker described by his family as “the best”.

David Warnes, who died earlier this year of lung problems caused by exposure to asbestos, was described by relatives as someone who was funny, hard-working and charitable - as well as someone who would never rest when something could be done.

Born and raised on Moorland Road, Ipswich in 1941, David was the seventh of eight children.

He attended Moorland Road Primary and Landseer Secondary Modern School, leaving aged 15 and going into an apprenticeship with the gas board.

In 1961, aged 19, he married and had three children, Julie, Jenny and Peter, before separating in 1980.

Peter Warnes spoke of his childhood with his young father, who was just 26 when he was born.

“He was a great dad, firm but very fair and knew when to give you a hug,” he said.

“I remember when I was young he loved the football team and knew all the players personally.

“He used to take me down to Foxhall Stadium every year for their demolition derby and it was just the best fun.”

David Warnes worked his whole life as a welder, a boilermaker and at the Ipswich shipyards.

He met Yvonne Grimes while both of them were working at the shipyard, and the two were inseparable from 1994.

“David used to say we were still on our honeymoon as we were so close,” she said. “We did everything together.”

“When I retired, David lasted two days before telling his work he was retiring too - he told them: ‘I’m not doing it if Yvonne’s not here.’”

Ms Grimes recalled his huge personality, sense of humour and the nickname ‘Chunky’ that followed him throughout his working life.

When visiting Ms Grimes family, who live in Sweden, she looked forward to introducing Mr Warnes to her relatives - only to hear someone shout “Chunky!” When a docker from Harwich recognised him while they took in the sights in Stockholm.

He spent his entire life working with his hands, unable to sit still while there was something to be built or fixed, setting about building a trike entirely from second-hand parts when he left work in 2004.

A Volkswagen Beetle was cut in half for the trike, a motorbike’s front was welded on, a chair from a crane was fitted and even a ship’s horn was included.

Throughout his working and retired life he was also a member of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, an organisation dedicated to raising money for causes in Ipswich, the town David Warnes loved.

Always looking for an opportunity to do some good, he saw an former co-worker from the docks had raised £8,000 for an electric wheelchair for his daughter with cerebral palsy, but the wheelchair could not make it across their uneven lawn.

He bought the issue to the attention of the Buffaloes and another £1,700 was raised so the lawn could be levelled and laid with astroturf.

When quoted in the Ipswich Star, Mr Warnes said: “when I saw he had this little girl I thought: ‘perhaps we can help’, and that’s what we did.”

Proud to have spent the first 70 years of his life without ever taking a tablet or spending a night in hospital, Mr Warnes was told in retirement that he would need a new aortic valve fitted and had to lose weight before being considered for surgery.

Before he could have the operation, he suffered a heart attack in 2014 and underwent a triple bypass, when it was fund that his lung capacity was reducing, a problem eventually attributed to the asbestos that had been on the ships he had worked on for 50 years.

Not content with letting that slow him down, he continued going on holidays, spending time with family and taking the grandchildren swimming in Felixstowe.

David Warnes died on Saturday 26 May 2018, aged 76, of bronchopneumonia due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asbestosis.

On Wednesday, July 18 an inquest hearing said this was directly related to his industrial job.

His funeral was held at Seven Hills Crematorium.

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