During a week spent in hospital in Birmingham with my late brother, the news from friends who felt I should know (thank you) that Pritch had sadly and suddenly passed away in his sleep felt utterly unbelievable. I cried. A lot.
Judging by the public outpouring of grief on Facebook, it seems I was not alone. Indeed, the whole Bude community was reeling from the loss of a man who, only earlier this year, had written a memorial tribute to another lovely Bude man taken too soon, Rob Walters. I didn’t know Pritch as well as many of you but what I did know is that he truly loved Bude, so the greatest tribute I can pay him is to call him a Bude Man.
By that, I mean a huge part of the community, for the community, within the community.
Pritch told his own story of his move from stockbroking to Bude. At the age of 46, he quit what he called a testosterone-filled battery farm. He said in that piece (and Pritch’s articles for Bude & Beyond were always astonishingly honest because that’s the kind of bloke he was) that he worked ridiculous hours, at a crazy pace, to make money, a lifestyle which “takes a great toll on your body”. When we met, he told me quite a bit about his old life. In his article he wrote:
So what is being rich? What does it actually mean? Plenty of people I worked with thought they were… but were they really? Moving to Bude made things real again: the place is real, the people are real, the friendships are real, the air that I breathe is real and the light above me is also real (sunshine, not strip-lighting – ok not all the time, I grant you, but…)
The beaches are incredible, the variety of waves and surf spots we can surf is amazing, the scenery is stunning…..it never ceases to blow me away.
We are rich in spirit here, we are rich in nature, we are rich in community and I, for one, feel incredibly privileged to be able to enjoy what we have here in Bude.
So, Pritch, you wrote your own eulogy because you absolutely believed what you said. We all know that in the short time that Bude was blessed with Pritch, he became an avid surfer, a massive part of the local surfing community, so vital to the very fabric of Bude. He was deeply involved in Bude Waveriders and with the Surf Veterans. To him, surfing was a drug, so he also used it to do good for others. This is how it began, with his usual style of slightly self-deprecating understatement:
Having worked at a desk for 12 hours a day for the past 32 years , when I moved to Bude, aged 46, it kind of felt rude not to have a go at this surfing lark!
There was a deeply empathetic side to Pritch, too. I shared the piece he wrote about losing his Dad many times. He understood people, and looked out for them.
The first time we properly met was at The Edgcumbe, to discuss him writing occasional articles for Bude & Beyond. They were occasional, too, because Pritch was a busy guy, doing other stuff, living life, while also being there for those he could help. I remain thrilled that he put some of his thinking on this website, where it is immortalised. It is a place where, if you want to reconnect with him, you can read Pritch’s own words, and imagine him saying them.
Oozing life and positivity, he liked to make people feel good and had a keen eye for things. At that meeting, he told me that my daughter is a “lovely little surfer who looks great on a board”. He elaborated. He didn’t have to say anything, but it was kind and good of him to make the observation and verbalise it. Said daughter told me Pritch’s last words to her were in the water when he got in her way as she was catching a wave, forcing her to turn. “Sorry, Rosie”, he said. “Don’t be”, she replied, “you just made me do the best turn of my life”. That was the great thing about Pritch; even unwittingly, he brought out the good in most people.
I’ve been utterly moved by the outpouring of grief and love for Pritch on his Facebook page. Yet, if anyone deserved it, Pritch was the guy. He was an adrenaline junkie, as his river surfing piece tells, but he had a serious side, concerned about injustice. His most recent article was in September when he was moved to write about Cornwall Council’s surf tax.
It’s been a while since I felt compelled to put pen to paper, but there comes a time where something has to be said about the gross unfairness that seems to be happening to us Council Tax payers here in Bude.
I’ll miss Pritch. I’ll miss his daily photos and videos on Facebook. I’ll miss him saying hello, how’s things? (and meaning it) whenever I rolled up at the beach because he seemed to live there! I’ll miss seeing him at events, even occasionally wearing something other than a wetsuit. I’ll miss his occasional phone calls, and messages, and articles. I’ll miss seeing his name and favourite music on Spotify.
I’ll miss the guy who had become part of the very heart of Bude. There’s no sense, justice or logic to his early demise (and believe me, I’ve lost two people too soon this week so I’ve thought about loss an awful lot) but we must celebrate his time in Bude, and all that he contributed to enrich the community. Pritch lived life wholeheartedly, every day as if it was his last. There aren’t many people who do.
He loved Bude, and Bude loved him back.
So, I’ll leave you with a selection of Dave’s pictures of Bude sunsets to remember him by. Sleep peacefully, Pritch.