Deacon Donald Cramer-Barnicoat

I was born in Johannesburg South Africa now called Gauteng in 1944, to Cecil and Edna Barnicoat. I was the third born of four children. My eldest sister Sheila died within the first week of being born. I now have a second eldest sister Joan and a younger sister Meriel.

I was Baptised in the Parish of Kenilworth and made my first holy communion in St Winifred South Africa and was confirmed in West Norwood London.

My mum and dad met each other while working in the printing industry and after a few years got married.

We all came over to England from South Africa in the early fifties, first moving to London West Norwood where I completed my primary school education, we then moved to Newport Monmouthshire South Wales where I completed my schooling.

When I finished school I intended to make my career in the printing industry and so we all moved to Bristol where there was more choice in this field, when arriving in Bristol I sat the entrance examination on a Saturday morning and then on the Monday morning the printing industry went on strike and lasted for about four months, as a young lad I got fed up with this and dropped the idea of being a printer and decided to join the engineering industry.

I joined Robert Watson Structural Engineers in 1959 and served a five year apprenticeship, in my final year at the age of 21 I was awarded a gold watch from the British Structural Steelwork Association for obtaining the best results in the South West of England.

I met my wife Joanne when I was sixteen years of age and got married in 1967 at St Teresa’s Filton by Canon Lucy and Fr Barry.

Joanne and I bought our first home in Winterbourne and our daughter was born in 1969.

We decided to go to South Africa in 1970 as Joanne wanted to see the country that I was born and grew up in.

When arriving in South Africa we managed to buy a plot of land in a place called Queensburgh, the land was overgrown in dense bush and I spent weekend after weekend clearing the bush by hand and then burning, after about three months we had our home built.

I started work in South Africa Durban for Dorman Long Africa a Structural Engineering Company as a senior design draughtsman and worked on various multi million Rand projects throughout the world.

Our son was born in 1972.

During the years of unrest in South Africa I volunteered to join the local fire brigade and became a voluntary fireman.

We were proud owners of two gun dogs and trained them up to a very high standard, we also had horses which we trained and entered into different equestrian events.

In 1982 I started to train for the permanent Diaconate and in 1987 I was ordained a permanent Deacon by Archbishop Hurley in our parish church of St Catherine’s.

During this time I was also working hard, as Dorman Long Africa was taken over by a company called Dorbyl Marine and I was given the position of welding engineer for the shipbuilding, heavy mechanical, petroleum and dished end divisions.

When the change came about in South Africa companies found it very difficult to survive, including the company that I was working for and was made redundant after having worked for them for 24 years, I then worked three days a week for my parish as Deacon and also started up a furniture manufacturing business, and after a while obtained a chicken farm.

In 1988 Joanne and I decided to leave South Africa and return to Bristol.

On my return to Bristol I re-joined Robert Watson Structural Engineers and worked for them for about three years when they closed down and was made redundant, I once again started my own business in 2002.

I was incardinated into the Diocese of Clifton in 1999 and became Parish Deacon of Holy Family where I am now very happy working with our Parish Priest Fr Eugene Campbell.

On October 31st 2012 I celebrate my silver jubilee, 25 years as a Permanent Deacon.


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