Rip to Jim Symonds

Just before Christmas I was in Leominster shopping when a voice called me. It was Michael, and he looked drawn. “Robert, I don’t know if you’ve heard but Jim died on the 22nd December.” I hadn’t and I was shocked.

Now, Dunkertons longest standing customers, from the time of cider making and the shop in Pembridge, Herefordshire, may well remember Jim Symonds. He helped Susie, Ivor and myself (and others as the years passed) with the pressing of apples from the mid-1980s to 2000. This was when the apples were pressed by an old flat-bed hydraulic press which made the process more arduous than using the belt press of today.

Jim was a Herefordian through and through. Brought up in an ancient mill, he was a true countryman and would follow the seasons with agricultural work. He would help with the potato and hop harvests in the weeks before he would come along to Hays Head to help Dunkertons with apple picking and pressing. Hardworking and good company he was an essential part of the team at harvest and pressing time. One of his great interests was beekeeping: he had beehives all over this part of north Herefordshire, and some up into the Welsh hills which produced heather honey which was highly regarded.

These past couple of weeks or so my mind has been full of memories of those, years thirty or so years ago when Dunkertons was tucked down the Herefordshire lanes that Jim loved so much.

I have been in touch with two of Dunkertons ex-employees, Darren Gregory and Paul Evans, who still runs Dunkertons Shop in Pembridge, (which will be open again Fridays and Saturdays from 10th February) asking if they had any particular memories and they both came up with the same one. At Christmas Ivor and Susie would arrange a Christmas meal or suchlike for us cider makers. For a couple of years we went ten pin bowling. Both Darren and Paul remembered that Jim showed and unexpected talent for bowling and scored strike after strike.

Any Dunkertons customers that do remember Jim from those Pembridge days please think of Jim’s family and friends who are coping with his unexpected death.

- Robert West 4th January 2023