Canterbury Scenes with the Logo of Kent Family History Society


It is with deep sadness and much regret that we announce the death on 2nd January 2014 of


Mr Derek DRURY (1933 - 2014)

Derek was born on 10 July 1933 in Gillingham, however, he had ancestors that came from Whitstable and lived there with his wife Joan from 1970.

Derek researched his family history for over 25 years and, along with Joan (who was Branch Treasurer for several years), he was a keen supporter and volunteer of the Kent Family History Society for many years.  Derek was a skilled family historian who had the ability to both help and inspire others. He was a stalwart of the Canterbury Branch and served as Branch Chairman for three years. The meetings at his and Joan’s house are fondly remembered for their hospitality by the then Branch committee. As Branch Chairman, Derek presided over an exploratory open meeting in Deal to see if there was enough local interest to start a new branch – there was and the Deal Branch of the Society is still going strong. Derek then served as Canterbury Branch President for a further three years from 2008 – 2011. He also sat on the Executive Committee of the Society for several years and regularly attended both their meetings and the AGM’s; contributing many good ideas along with his wisdom and humour.

For many years the Society’s Journal was packed locally and Joan and Derek were keen volunteers. Along with a few others they set up a “journal team” firstly in Canterbury and then in Dover and travelled regularly every quarter for the major task of preparing and packing nearly 3000 journals ready for posting. This was an extremely long and tiring day as the journals needed to be sorted into many various mail bags to be delivered by Royal Mail after the “leafleting” and “enveloping” had been done.

Derek realised that more and particularly, younger, people would become interested in family history and history generally if it was presented to them in a lively and accessible way. To this end he championed Canterbury Branch “Open Days” and went to great lengths to ensure that everyone who came through the door was made welcome no matter what their age. Canterbury’s Open Days at various venues enticed several newcomers to visit and see what it was all about. The press reports and photographs that followed also encouraged many to explore their family history trail.

Derek was also involved with the Whitstable Society and Whitstable History Society and spent hours at Whitstable Museum encouraging others to become interested in the town’s fascinating history. As well as Derek’s easy going personality and good humour he had the natural ability to get on with and enthuse young people and was a cub leader for many years.  

If all this was not enough Derek also found time to play bowls as a member of Whitstable Bowls Club and Joan and Derek were “Friends” of Duncan Downs in Whitstable.

As well as all his work with the various societies, Derek was probably most proud of the yearly coach day trips Dick Barton and he organised.  Over the years 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 a coach load of KFHS members visited Ypres and its Battlefields and Memorials, The Somme Battlefields and Memorials, the Second World War sites around St Omer and Calais as well as Arras, its tunnels and nearby Battlefields. Those members who went on these trips remember them well as they were given excellent handbooks, had good guides and were extremely moving. As well as visiting so many different places the organisation that went into each trip was superb, down to laying the Society’s poppy wreath, and often being able to stop at specific cemeteries to visit a member’s relative. (After a few years break the Branch has again run trips to the Continent in recent years).

Originally his ancestors were from Norfolk and Joan and Derek have spent many happy hours travelling around that county tracking them down and researching in Norfolk’s local record offices. They also took to Norfolk life in their retirement, breaking their holidays into several trips up from Whitstable per year and getting to know local people well. So well, in fact, that Derek often ended up playing bowls for a Norfolk team and was sent the match sheet early in the year so he could arrange his holidays to tie in with the matches he wanted to play!

As well as his love of history, Whitstable and Norfolk, his family was all important to him and Derek was extremely proud of his and Joan’s two sons and two grandsons.

Derek was a true gentleman, who both empathised with and had the ability to enthuse others. He would write lovely notes to thank those who had helped at events and he chaired his meetings with ease and good humour.  Derek truly “gave something back” to his community, his societies and his friends and he will be very much missed by his family, all those who knew him and Canterbury Branch, KFHS.

Rest in Peace Derek

Tricia Baxter, Webmaster

David Wood BA (hons.), Branch Chairman

Page updated:  03 February 2014