On Friday last, June 29th, I attended the 90th birthday celebrations for Donald Martin-Betts, an old friend of Micky Burn who had, in turn, become my own valued friend. The party was a huge success with Donald his usual energetic and engaging host. You can imagine my shock therefore at hearing this morning that Donald passed away just yesterday, leaving behind the kind of void that only a special few have the presence and character to fill.
I first met Donald while visiting Micky at his cottage just down the lane from Portmeirion, where Donald and his late wife Betty had been regular visitors for many decades. I was working on recording Micky's life and Donald, who had been Micky's friend for some time, at first regarded this interloper with great suspicion lest I take advantage of Micky's generous, though not always well-judged- good nature. I remember very well being grilled as to my intentions by a man not given to waffle or insincerity. Fortunately I passed the test and over time we became good friends, with invitations following to the Sloane Club, and to several of Donald's Company functions at St. Julians, a country club not far from Sevenoaks.
Donald to me will always mean champagne - only the good stuff, of course - and a very welcome predictability, in that you always knew where you were with him and knew that his word was his bond. His friendship and support will be greatly missed.