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Renowned sailor, founder of Hoods UK and former commodore of Lymington Town Sailing Club Bunty King has died

THE founder of the UK branch of Hoods sailmakers and a former commodore of Lymington Town Sailing Club has died at the age of 92.

Reith Richmond King – known to everyone as ‘Bunty’ – was asked by American Ted Hood to find a location for the UK arm of his sail making business.

Bunty had moved to Lymington in 1966 from Burnham on Crouch, and the following year set up the British branch of Hoods in a sail making loft on Bath Road next to Berthon boatyard.

Bunty King was a former Commodore of the Lymington Town Sailing Club and keen photographer
Bunty King was a former Commodore of the Lymington Town Sailing Club and keen photographer

At one stage it was employing 40 people and its clients included former Times editor Max Aitken, newspaper publisher Lord Beaverbrook and former Prime Minister Ted Heath.

In 2006 it was taken over by Kemp Sails, and the Lymington manufacturing facility closed and operations moved to Wareham, Dorset.

A keen sailor since being a child, Bunty built his own boat Simplicity, a 32-footer which he and the family sailed all over the European and eastern Atlantic waters. He was sometimes accompanied by wife Margaret, who he met when they both worked at Cranfield & Carter Sails in Essex. They married in 1952 and had twin girls, Jan and Bridget, and a son, David. They also had five grandchildren.

Bunty King
Bunty King

In 1977 Bunty entered the Fastnet race, but it was a feat of navigation the previous year which Bunty was more proud of.

He had arranged with sailing friend Tom Follit to rendezvous mid Atlantic, Lat 40 32N, Long 29 36W, on a specific day and time. Using just a compass and sextant they managed it.

Born in Kent, Bunty was brought up in West Mersey. His mother was a nurse, and his father was an engineer working on radar during the war, his name is on the role of honour at Bletchley Park

From an early age Bunty learnt to sail and it remained a lifelong passion.

He became commodore at the Lymington Town Sailing Club from 1976 to 1978. Bunty also taught navigation and his sailing took him and Margaret around the world to America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.

He retired in 1979 and moved with Margaret to Falmouth, Cornwall, where he wrote a well received book about sailing called ‘Spinnaker’.

After moving back to Lymington in the 1990s and Margaret’s death in 1995, he gave up sailing; but he could often be seen around Lymington on his electric buggy taking part in his new hobby, photography.

Just as in sailing, he excelled, and did publicity shots for local drama clubs and organisations.

A theatre lover, he also enjoyed going to see the Lymington Players and was a regular at Sway drama productions.

He loved Mozart, Turner and Constable paintings and was a huge fan of Last Night of the Proms.

Son-in-law Chris Murray said: “Bunty couldn’t be held back or put off. He had a full life.”

He died peacefully at home surrounded by family.

His funeral was held at New Forest crematorium on 8th September, with a celebration of life held later at Lymington Town Sailing Club.

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