Obituary David Dando

It was standing room only at the funeral of Paignton businessman and sea-front character David Dando, who died recently aged 72.

Mr Dando ran a refreshment kiosk near what used to be the Festival Theatre, which was famed for its crab sandwiches. He took over the kiosk in the early 1980s and ran it for almost 20 years before retiring.

A keen rugby player and swimmer in his youth, Mr Dando’s funeral at Torquay Crematorium was attended by friends who travelled from as far away as Kent to say their farewells.

From closer to home came Mr Dando’s many friends made over the years in the bar at Paignton Rugby club and a number of local pubs, particularly The Ship Inn, the Old Manor and the Polsham Arms.

Mr Dando never married, although he had a keen eye for the ladies as a younger man. Mike Rouvira, his cousin, said Mr Dando was a larger-than-life figure who believed life was to be enjoyed and lived by that maxim.

"When we were children David was always getting involved in things, like the carnival parade and entertaining the young guests at his mother’s hotel on Preston seafront," said Mr Rouvira.

"It might be tennis or a putting tournament at Oldway – whatever it was he was always organising something and was hugely competitive himself.

"David played rugby, was a good athlete and a strong swimmer. In later life he became a keen skittler and became involved in the Paignton RFC past players’ committee.

"David was very proud to be a life member of Paignton rugby and cricket clubs. He played wing-threequarter for Paignton in the 1950s, but I don’t recall him playing much cricket after school. I think he was made a life member of the cricket club for his loyal support over many years."

David Dando – the family name is Spanish – moved to Paignton during the Second World War when mother Gay took over the management of the Maskee Court Hotel near Redcliffe Corner. After the war Mrs Dando, who had separated from her husband, moved the short distance to Preston and started her own business at the Dominion Hotel.

Mr Dando was educated at Montpellier School in Preston and later at Blundell’s School (Old House) in Tiverton, where his love of sport flourished. He played in the 1st XV in 1953 and later represented the Public School Wanderers, a team made up of ex-public school boys.

National Service with the RAF in Cyprus followed. He was posted there during the EOKA crisis of the mid-1950s that eventually led to independence.

Back in civvy street Mr Dando went to work for the giant Nestle organisation as a sales representative, initially in Devon then later in the Channel Islands. He also worked for Crosse & Blackwell.

He returned to Paignton to help his ageing mother run the hotel and took over running the refreshment kiosk. When his mother died he continued to live in the hotel, but ceased to run it as a business.

Mr Dando always had a nose for publicity and managed to promote his ‘tea hut’ through stories in the Herald Express.

Former Herald Express journalist Guy Shackle, now retired, remembers writing several ‘quirky’ stories he wrote about the late Mr Dando and his refreshment kiosk.
"We did one story about David being able to forecast the weather by looking at the grounds in a customer’s coffee cup," said Mr Shackle.

"There was another story about David selling the first £1 cup of tea in Paignton – and many years ago he posed as King Canute trying to stop a high tide swamping the kiosk."

Mr Rouvira said running the kiosk suited his cousin down to the ground as it gave him the chance to chat to friends and regale them with one of the many stories from his packed life.

"Nothing made him happier than having a friend stop by for a cup of tea and a chat," said Mr Rouvira.

"Latterley, while his health was declining, he took a keen interest in his garden on Preston sea front and was always glad to chat to passers by."

Conrad Sutcliffe