Mr Matthew Ridley

Matthew Ridley, retired solicitor, member of St James' Church and former chairman of the Trowbridge Royal British Legion died at his home on January 16 aged 94.

Mr Ridley was born in India, educated at Treador House near Holyhead and then Tonbridge School. After National Service he studied English and then Law at Corpus Christie College, Cambridge, before being articled to a solicitor in Exeter. He then moved to London before coming to Trowbridge in 1957.

As a partner at Wilkins and Hill solicitors and subsequently Sylvester & Mackett, as it was then, he was heavily involved in Trowbridge life and enjoyed the fellowship of Round Table and subsequently 41 Club, where he made many friends and contacts, all of whom played an important part of his life.

In 1963 he met his wife, Jane and they had two daughters, Helen and Alison. A dedicated family man, he enjoyed annual holidays to the coast and everyday walks with his wife in the countryside, particularly along the Kennet & Avon Canal and the Westbury hills.

He was very interested in local history and was an enthusiastic member of The Trowbridge Historical Association.

Matthew was the longest-serving member of the Trowbridge RBL Branch and held every single appointment, in particular serving as Branch Chairman for 50 years. In the New Year's Honours List of 2000 he was awarded the MBE for services to the Royal British Legion, as he would say one of the proudest moments of his life.

Air Vice-Marshal Martin Clark CB RAF (Ret’d), President Trowbridge Branch, Royal British Legion said: “Matthew’s loss will be felt by all in the Trowbridge Branch of the Royal British Legion, and by many others across the town.

"He has been a giant in the life of our members for many, many years and been a role model for all. His kindness and thoughtfulness will long be remembered, as will the selfless way that he gave of his time to help others.

"As Chairman of our Branch for 50 years he provided leadership, wisdom and a guiding hand that we still benefit from today.

"Matthew’s memory will be kept alive through the Branch’s annual Ridley Dinner, named in his honour several years ago, where we will take the opportunity of reflecting each year on the inspiration that he gave to us all.

"Our thoughts and condolences are very much with his wife and family at this difficult time. Like them, we will all miss Matthew.”

William Sherman, a senior member of Trowbridge RBL, said: “Matthew was a stalwart of many organisations, some of whom owe their existence to his help and dedication, and was an old school gentleman the likes of which we will not see again."

“His memory will live on in the form of the RBL Ridley Dinner where a toast will be raised in his honour and memory. RIP your job is done.”

Ken Scott, a member of Trowbridge RBL, said: “Such sad news, Matthew was a loyal member and friend of the Legion and the local community as a whole. Our thoughts are with the family on this sad occasion of his passing. Matthew will be sorely missed. We will remember him.”

Norman Parker, of 2196 (Trowbridge) Squadron Air Training Corps, said: “Such sad news. I knew Matthew through my being in charge of 2196 Trowbridge Squadron air cadets and meeting him on Remembrance Days.

“Even when I met him normally he always had something to say. A rare true gentleman. My condolences to his family.”

A private farewell service will be held at 2.15pm on Tuesday, February 2 at St James’ Church and a committal afterwards at the West Wiltshire Crematorium at Semington. Only 30 mourners will be allowed to attend under the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown restrictions. This service will be live-streamed on james trowbridge/live.

Donations, if desired, to St James Church, Trowbridge, ( or Royal British Legion - Trowbridge Branch, via Rick Owen, 3 Chirton Place, Trowbridge, BA14 0XT.