TRIBUTES have been pouring in for a community campaigner, charity fundraiser and rugby enthusiast who have died after a long battle with cancer.
Dave Bottoms, from Hutton Magna, will be best remembered for his huge sense of humor and passion for his family and community.
He was instrumental in getting the traffic speed reduced in his village, raised thousands of pounds to have his church’s roof repaired and right up until the end was fighting to get super-fast broadband installed in his rural area of the dale.
Mr Bottoms was born in Three Bridges, in West Sussex, to Doris and Rex Bottoms, and lived most of his childhood in Bletchingley, Surrey, with his older sister Ruth.
He attended school in Croydon before attending Aberystwyth University to study zoology.
He went on to a career in pathology where he learned his trade in the hematology services at the University College Hospital, in London.
Mr Bottoms later moved to the North East in a pathology management role at Darlington and County Durham hospitals. Later he became self-employed but remained closely involved with the north of England Cancer Network where he set up a trial of digital imaging technology which has been widely adopted across the NHS.
Outside of work he was passionately involved in rugby, playing initially for his halls of residence at university and later for St Neots Rugby Club.
After a spell at Northallerton, he moved to Barnard Castle RFU Club where he served as a player and later as a Durham referee.
Following his retirement from refereeing, he managed the club’s first and second teams and later became its director of rugby.
His wife, Alison Smith, said: “Barnard Castle Rugby Club was a huge part of his life. In recent years, I have enjoyed supporting his grandsons in the junior section of the club. ”
David Jackson, president of the rugby club, added: “Dave joined in 1996 at age 36 – he played several seasons for the first team, even at that age. I have tackled like a demon. His heart was as big as his body.
“He was dedicated to what he did and he always got the positive in every situation.
“The club owes him so much. His integrity of him was incredible. He was marvelous – there was no other way to describe him”.
Mr Jackson said along with taking photographs of matches and sending them out, he also wrote up match reports for the local newspapers. The rugby club stalwart was also a keen angler and enjoyed nature and wildlife. He also enjoyed traveling and visited places such as Madagascar, Canada and New Zealand with his family.
Mrs Smith said: “Above all, he was a family man. His family of him meant the world to him. He attended school plays wherever possible, sports days and supported his kids in their sports and music clubs.
“He proudly walked both his daughters down the aisle on their wedding days. He welcomed his sons-in-law of him as part of the family and was always there with fatherly advice. He has always been a loving, supportive son to his mum, Doris. ”
His daughter, Sarah, said: “Dad taught me the meaning of love and how to find light in the darkest of situations. His way of connecting with people was so powerful. He was the best dad and I am so proud to be his daughter.
Her sister, Ellie, said there will never be enough words to describe what an amazing father he was and she would be “forever proud that he was mine”.
As chairman of the village’s parish meeting Mr Bottoms was successful in campaigning for a 30mph speed limit through the village and also served on the village hall committee. He served as a treasurer for St Mary’s Church and he used his cancer treatment as a way to raise much of the £40,000 needed for urgent roof repairs.
Church warden Marian Lewis said: “He has taken part in everything in the village and started several campaigns. To raise so much cash for the church renovations when he was undergoing chemotherapy was just amazing. He was an absolute gem of a man. He fought the cancer with everything he had and he never moaned. He always had a smile on his face from him.
“The nicest thing is when the jubilee was on – we got him to do the toast for the Queen. It seems strange that he died on the same day as she did. He took on the role of treasurer’s job for the church, knowing how ill he was, but he wanted to focus on something else.
Mr Bottoms campaigned vociferously for better broadband in both Hutton Magna and Ovington and was in constant contact with county officers and Teesdale MP Dehenna Davison.
Ms Davison said: “I had the immense privilege of working with David since I became an MP. His attention from him to detail in local broadband improvement meetings was second to none, and I was always inspired by his commitment from him to making progress and getting things done.
“He was a kind, hardworking man, dedicated to helping his local community. He will be greatly missed by residents of Hutton Magna, and by myself and my team.”
Mr Bottom’s wife concluded: “He was a fantastic people person. He was sociable, friendly and supportive. He was kind and caring and would go out of his way to help people. He had a huge sense of humor and was always cracking a joke.
“Every memory and photograph make me smile. For 43 years he was my wonderful, loving, big-hearted, funny, friend and soulmate. I feel so lucky he shared his life with me.”
Mr Bottoms died on Thursday, September 8, at age 62.
He is survived by his mum Doris Bottoms, his wife Alison Smith, his daughters, Sarah and Ellie, and his four grandchildren Adam, Nathan, Lilly and Isla.