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Former Cabinet official Pudney dies at 88

Cancer battle: Col Donald Ralph Pudney died last Tuesday at the age of 88

A former senior Cabinet official and British Army Colonel Donald Ralph Pudney has died at the age of 88 after a battle with cancer.

He died last Tuesday — six weeks after receiving his diagnosis.

Mr Pudney moved to Bermuda in 1971 working across the health and home affairs ministries as well as the Cabinet Office.

His eldest daughter Elaine Pudney recalled that her father was a stickler for the rules yet possessed a gregarious character.

“He was very strict with us growing up because he was army. That background gave my brother, my sister and I huge insights and we had to move to a new location every few years.

“He was particularly strict with us when we were in Bermuda because it was such a free Island in the 70s, so he read the riot act to us.

“My father was an amazing chef and he would cook for all the dinner parties and he was such a jovial host.

“He was a real storyteller — he had some amazing stories — he was in the Korean War just after my brother was born.”

Mr Pudney, a freeman of the City of London, was the last officer to be commissioned into the British Army in the Second World War, and the youngest Captain.

He served in Korea and claimed to have “been shot at in most parts of the world”.

He retired from the British Army in 1971 and moved to Bermuda. His first role here was as permanent secretary for the Ministry of Health. He later worked for the Bermuda Regiment as an administration officer before moving to the Ministry of Home Affairs as co-ordinator for security services including the police, Regiment and fire services. He moved to the Cabinet Office as assistant secretary to Cabinet under the leadership of Sir John Swan. Mr Pudney worked within the private sector before retiring and leaving Bermuda for England in 1987.

Sir John Swan said of his former colleague: “I was impressed with his promptness and punctuality, and the importance he placed on fulfilling his responsibilities. He obviously had a very strong military background.

“He joined me at Home Affairs and subsequently joined Cabinet as assistant secretary to Cabinet — that is my working history with Donald. He did a great job in making sure that we made the most efficient use of our human resources through our relationship with permanent secretaries. He was always there to assist and meet the requirements of the Cabinet’s responsibilities which were rather vast at the time because the Cabinet’s job was to co-ordinate all the functionalities of the various ministries. Pudney played a role in maintaining that process in an orderly fashion.”

Quinton Edness was health minister while Mr Pudney was PS within the ministry. Mr Edness said: “He was my permanent secretary when I was in the Ministry of Health. He was a very efficient man — he was a soldier. When he gave an instruction he meant it — he was Colonel Donald Pudney.

“He loved people and had a tremendous personality. He had one of the world’s best classic toy-soldier collection. It was a phenomenal collection — it was just tremendous. He loved Bermuda.”

A scholar of British Regiments Mr Pudney’s collection featured more than 9,000 figures. He leaves behind his wife June, son Steven, and daughters Elaine and Susan Hill. He has five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.