In Memoriam – David Laker


David Laker was a long standing and committed member of Orpington Video and Filmmakers and served on the Committee as Treasurer for the last 12 years, managing the accounts methodically and ensuring money was used appropriately, subs collected halls hired, bills paid and accounts kept up to date.  He and Carole kindly hosted a number of club garden parties in their beautiful garden.


His desire was for the club to thrive and to drum up interest, particularly with teenagers, he contacted Bromley College offering to help judge student’s films; a very successful move resulting in one of these students recently joining the club. 


He organised and put on shows, tailored to specific needs for The National Trust and others, and was key in organising our ‘Spring’ and ‘Autumn Shows’, encouraging Knoll residents, members of his church and friends to attend, maintaining contacts to invite them again. 


His films about Orpington’s history were shown at events held at his Church, and copies given to appropriate libraries for the future.  His research was thorough; it must have taken hours; what a boon to the Historic Society.  He obtained copies of maps from centuries ago, voting papers, photos, land holdings, etc., drawing on information held in libraries and The Imperial War Museum to include in his films. David was delighted to win top awards for ‘An Unwelcome Piece of Orpington’s History’ about the last victim of WWII, Ivy Millichamp, killed by a V2 bomb in Orpington. 


When England went into lockdown, David was the one who set up and hosted Zoom meetings.  He began to put our club’s newsreels on Vimeo for the public to access, so advertising the club.  He sent out invitations to all his contacts inviting them to a zoom ‘film show’ specifically created for this purpose. He organised a live show at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley, to advertise OVFM and to encourage new members.  To give members access to watch films and to assist at club meetings he put many archive films onto Vimeo.  He was proactive in gathering footage for each year’s newsreel to which he was a huge contributor going out in all weathers, covering the likes of the Remembrance Day Services at the War Memorial, All Saints Church and Canadian Corner, the Children’s Business event, the Big O Festival, Palm Sunday processions, Christmas lights and the Santa Dash.  David hadn’t slowed down and wished others would show the same enthusiasm and commitment.


During lockdown, he together with a handful of others moved to a complex edit program and, with the help of John Epton, learned the basics of this system.  John allowed each attendee to pose questions to be covered in the ‘Zoom’ tutorial and then guided them through the process.  David learned animation and from that time on, we would witness David drawing lines along ancient maps to pinpoint whatever part of the story needed visual assistance. Some of us hoped he would move on, but such was his love of this new found skill that we were to witness many more lines being drawn on maps, or blocks of colour to highlight certain buildings, streets or areas.


The flavour of many an exotic holiday abroad was captured on film, as were adventures with his grandchildren and an explanation of why icebergs are blue. Technically challenging, he made ‘A Time When Orpington was Still a Village’ using wonderful paintings by Richard Rayner’s from the 1890s, superimposed onto a scene of the exact spot today.  Two films ‘Disastermind’, a spoof of Mastermind and ‘Costly Words’ a joke, set in a restaurant, caused a great deal of amusement.


David leaves a huge void in the club and cannot be replaced.  He will be sadly missed. We remember him with fondness and if we all had his energy and commitment….. well….. we’d all be worn out!  We send our sincere condolences to Carole and the family at this sad time. 


Jane Oliver – OVFM Chairman

7 Replies to “In Memoriam – David Laker”

  1. Oh very sad news indeed. David was a stalwart of the OVFM. How on earth are you going to manage without him.
    My condolences to his wife & family

  2. If Reg Lancaster was OVFM’s totem, Freddie Beard its heart, and John Epton its brain, then David Laker was its engine. Whether it was directly correlated to his role as club treasurer or not, I don’t recall anybody doing more to drum up interest in OVFM to the public than David did in my 12 years with the club.

    Being in charge of the books is already a demanding job: having to keep track of every penny spent and every penny earned, and how this is reflected in the rates at which the subs were set. David could have rested on his laurels and sat back whilst everyone else made the films and did all the donkey work with regard to promoting the club, but he didn’t. Maybe he was trying to lead by example, or it was simply about ensuring OVFM thrived and continued to survive, either way we should be all be grateful that he did.

    When it came to feedback for the posters I made for the club film shows or promotional items on the website, David was the most hands on of the committee, which I now know is because he took promoting the club seriously, (perhaps too seriously on a couple of occasions but I won’t hold that against him) and he was keen to ensure everything was on message.

    David was also the only person to get behind launching our Vimeo channel and being part of building it up to where it stands now with the huge selection of the OVFM archive now available for viewing. Between the pair of us, many hours of discussion, trial and error, and pulling out of hair ensued (although he had a head start on me), usually with me doing all the logistical stuff and David the uploading.

    This lead to the creation of what should have been club members interacting during Lockdown (before we embraced Zoom): the Ultimate Newsreel! David conceived the idea of hosting all the extant Newsreels on Vimeo, club members would then watch them and vote for their favourite segment, with the most popular being edited in to the Ultimate Newsreel covering the last 35 years.

    I don’t know how disappointed David was that hardly anybody in the club obliged but I can imagine the answer was “very”, but if there is a small bloom on this wilted flower, it is that by sharing some of the Newsreels to the public via Facebook, we were able to gain a few eyes towards the club’s direction with this local nostalgia, some of whom now regularly support club film shows.

    On a personal note, these regular and intense communications were the first time I ever really got to chat with David. Certainly, we worked together on many films and sat together during my two years on the committee, but this was perfunctory shoptalk if you will. During these email exchanges, we would share our frustrations, and I would often need to explain how being Autistic informed my dealing with stress, which David took on board, whilst I had to navigate his nascent understanding of how Vimeo works.

    I hope what was a mutual understanding and respect was born from this – I know I got to realise how much effort and energy David was putting into the club as a result. As a filmmaker, David was very much a purveyor of the holiday film but with a keener eye for what to shoot and what share, making the experience palatable for others via judicious editing. This would gradually parlay into small documentaries, such as asking why icebergs are blue, and looking at the life of the leaf cutter ant.

    Eventually, it reached what I can only describe as its logical conclusion for David, the long form documentary (well, 20 minutes is long for a “short film”). David once again conceived the History of Orpington Project, the idea being the club makes a series of films about our fair town with the hope of garnering more public attention. Typically, David ended up doing the lion’s share of the work, but like many of us who become a victim of our success, it was because he was so good and thorough at it.

    Like other club members before him, I must express my gratitude to David for the rides home from club meetings in lieu of my not driving, which was a huge relief than taking the bus in light of my father’s health issues (for the record, Freddie was still the fastest). David was also the biggest supporter of the website and would push others to visit and contribute to, whilst he would be a regular at club film shoots too, camera to hand just in case.

    In a bitter ironic twist, just a couple of weeks after David’s diagnosis was revealed and I had been in touch to wish him well, I planned to send an email to check in on him. It was on that day I received an email from Annabelle Lancaster breaking the terrible news of David’s passing. A lot of “what ifs” passed through my mind, but I can take some solace from the fact our last exchange was a positive and friendly one.

    But, if David is to be remembered by club members past and present, it is not as the man chasing us up for our subs, or the man practically on his knees to galvanise us into promoting the club and sell film show tickets, but the man who gave OVFM so much, even when he was supposed to be slowing down.

    My deepest condolences to David’s wife and family for their loss.

  3. I was shocked to hear about David. He was a delightful and highly regarded member.
    His prestigious work for the club as treasurer and on the committee over the years will be sorely missed by us all.
    He was also a talented movie maker who filmed events and made some wonderful films about the history of Orpington.
    I send my condolences to Carole and family.

    John Bunce

  4. David was very encouraging to me and joy me to join, which I never regretted. I always enjoyed his films which were very informative and extremely cleaver. Sadly missed
    Kath Goodwin

  5. David was the club’s treasurer but he was much, much more than that to the club.
    I can only re-iterate what’s been said before that during Covid he set us up with Zoom meetings allowing the club to keep going during the pandemic. Many clubs have ended up closing altogether.
    He was a prolific film maker producing dramas, documentaries, fascinating holiday films, and several films on the history of Orpington where he made good use of animation on maps.
    He did tremendous work on our archive which is becoming more and more important to us.
    He always contributed to our Newsreels, going out in all weathers.
    I remember one time he persuaded me to join him at Orpington War Memorial at 6am to film a special service.
    This is what you call true loyalty to OVFM!
    He was a mainstay at our public shows and, in recent years, the club having no vice chairman, he stood in for Jane on numerous occasions.
    On a personal note, I always knew I could rely on the kindness of David when I sought advice, help and support.
    He’s a tremendous loss to us all, especially Carole to whom I send my sincere condolences.

  6. David Laker
    Hugh Darrington remembers…
    I have lost a dear film making friend with the unexpected passing of David Laker. We worked on so many projects together and in many ways he was the complete film making opposite of me. I like to plan everything inside my head, take the shots and put the relevant clips together and fiddle around for ages until it is what I imagined. David, in the other hand, has already made the film on paper, the hard work is done, and the actual film making is an exercise bringing it to life.
    One such joint project was ‘Disastermind’, a spoof on the TV series ‘Mastermind’, which David asked me to direct. David got the actors together, the props, the timetable, the script, and the storyboard, everything while I had the really fun bit. I just told everyone what to do on set. Yes the project was so much fun. After all, how many questions are there with just one answer ‘Pass’? Quite a few. Club members provided the crew and the audience. And it must have taken four or five months to get the dates needed to have everyone on set in the club hall at the same times.
    David was partly responsible for me finding myself standing in what seemed to be a Nissan Hut in a field in Orpington looking at a pile of rubble which I was told was a Roman bathhouse dating back to270AD.
    You are camera number one,’ he said. He paused. ‘And editor’. Well it’s in the archives.
    Green screen was another fun night. One particular evening about eight films emerged with David flying around like a wasp. He could also be harsh critic and didn’t mince words. My green screen of a fight at a bus stop with no props made his lip curl despite the fact I put the bus stop, background and even the bus in later. He must have been right, no one liked it.
    David had another role in my life. Not many members know but a group of us, including David, were part of a share buying and selling syndicate which met once a month in each others’ houses. Called ‘The Great Thrift, it was started by our previous treasurer Frank Hyde, who sadly passed way some years ago. Great Thrift was the name of the road he lived in. The group included me, Reg, Basil and Andy and several other friends.
    David had meticulous attention to detail and every month prepared market analysis statistics and performance ratings of all the shares we held. All of us were supposed to do this from time to time but we were unable to match the breadth and value of David’s commitment. He ran it like a business, which I suppose it was. Member’s wives vied with each other to supply the highest quality of food and beverages for our ‘commercial breaks’.
    I am going to miss David very much. He had a super voice for voice overs, and an unparalleled commitment to our hobby and was always there to offer help and advice where needed.

    Hugh Darrington

  7. When I joined the Club it soon became apparent what an invaluable asset David was and over time I began to see him as the Engine Room of the Club. Quite often David was the one suggesting new ideas as to how the Club could run as well as being a superb teacher when help was needed. In my case this continued as I changed my software and then my camera. We spent quite some time fathoming the workings of the camera but mostly it was David who found the answer first.
    His talent for Documentary Film making was brilliant, always going to great depths to ensure that the information he included was not only informative buy always accurate. Certainly I learned a great deal about Orpington from his research.
    Perhaps one way in which he best served the Club was by the many times he showed films to outside Groups and Associations. This was always done with the aim of publicising the Club with the hope that new members might come along.
    Thank you David for all your help and guidance.
    Brian Pfeiffer

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