David Hansen Reeves (H, 1950)

David Reeves, brother of Michael Reeves (Xt, 1947), died on 22 December 2022, aged 89. The following is compiled from David’s autobiographical notes.

David was born in Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield and lived above a doctor’s surgery with his parents and older brother Michael. Aged six David became a weekly boarder at Wylde Green College. During the Second World War he was a boarder at Hurst Court Preparatory School which was evacuated and shared some of the buildings of Wrekin College at Wellington, Shropshire. David was Head Boy during his final year at Hurst Court.

In 1946 David’s parents decided to send him to join his brother Mike at College, though he didn’t see a lot of Mike as he was in a different House and was three years older. David became House Prefect and enjoyed games, playing for the rugby 1st XV and being captain of the fencing team.

After College, David decided to follow his brother into farming. Then, in 1952, he was called up to do his two years of National Service, joining the Royal Artillery. David put his name forward to go on a WOSB (War Office Selection Board) to see if he could get a Commission. He recalls, ‘After three days of intensive scrutiny,

I was accepted for training, although I have always suspected that the fact that the Officer in charge has been to College (Hazelwell) may have had something to do with it!’ As an Officer, David was posted to Hong Kong in the 14th Field Regiment. Returning to the UK after his National Service, David had two more years in the Territorial Army, now 1st Lieutenant.

David undertook a Diploma in Agriculture at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, a time he describes as ‘one of the best years of my life.’ He decided to specialise in pig farming.

In 1957, his parents helped him to buy Morton Common Farm at Morton Bagot near Studley, where he worked hard, made a lot of friends and enjoyed a lot of partying.

Not long after marrying his first wife, Philippa, David bought a dozen piglets to fill two empty pig pens that turned out to be infected with Swine Fever. All of his pigs, those infected and even those that were healthy, were slaughtered. David had to sell the farm and look for a job: ‘no job, no money and a baby on the way. Not a brilliant way to start married life!’

However, he describes how ‘sometimes reverses like that can be the challenge and spur to succeed.’ In 1960, David was accepted as a Life Insurance Salesman at the Bennetts Hill office of Confederation Life Insurance Co. of Canada. He worked up to sales management, taking over the Sheffield branch in 1968. David’s earnings were based on commission, receiving a percentage of each salesman’s earnings, so it was vital to recruit, train and retain good people. He insisted that they dealt with people on an honest and professional basis, building trust. With this and a lot of hard work, the Sheffield branch gradually rose from being 23rd to 2nd of the 25 UK branches.

David enjoyed golf, playing at Beauchief and Abbeydale Golf Clubs, as well as enjoying golfing holidays abroad. In retirement, he also took up crown green bowling and enjoyed playing bridge.

Philippa and David had three children, Nick, Chris and Paul. He says, ‘I regretted the break-up of the family very much when Philippa and I were divorced in 1977.’ David re-married in 1979. His new wife, Tricia, had a daughter called Cheryl who was 10 at the time and to whom he has always ‘Daddy.’ When David and Tricia divorced in 2000, finding himself single again brought David closer to his sons and his five grandchildren, which brought him great happiness.