THE LIFE of a Medstead man who in his time has been a judge, film extra and the ‘Fat Controller’ on his much-loved Watercress Line is to be remembered at a special service in the village church.

Colin Fuller died at the start of the lockdown in March 2020 and a memorial service on Saturday, April 30, in St Andrew’s Church will give his family and friends the opportunity to give thanks for his life.

Colin loved steam engines, particularly the social history that accompanied them, and was a founder member of the Watercress Line, where he was given the honour of ‘Life Member Number 1’ as thanks for his contribution.

Born at Richmond in Surrey, his connection with Medstead dated back to 1951, as relatives lived in the area.

In 1963 his parents renovated one of the original wooden houses in Winchester Road in Four Marks, and the whole family threw themselves into local life.

Colin and his wife Carol loved nature and the countryside, and in 1981 they moved to a five-acre site in the hamlet of Soldridge with their children Johnathan and Rosalind.

The nearest station to Soldridge is the restored Medstead and Four Marks station on the Watercress Line, so Colin was never far away from ‘the railway.’

He took on a huge variety of voluntary work for the Watercress Line over his almost 50-year association with it.

He loved dressing up, and the railway gave him plenty of opportunity to have fun and entertain visitors.

He was Father Christmas on the Santa Specials – he also spent evenings behind the scenes, helping wrap presents for the children.

Later he became the warm-up man and walked through the train, generally hyping everyone up before Santa Claus made an appearance.

When the Thomas the Tank Engine events began, he was an obvious candidate for the Fat Controller and also enjoyed commentating on the staged race between the engines.

The War on the Line summer events were organised by him, with the Red Arrows flying over, vintage music, vehicle displays and much more.

He also dreamt up Christmas Leave, which was another vintage event between Christmas and the new year.

As a hobby he and Carol ran a small holding of cows, chickens and sheep at Soldridge, accompanied by various dogs and cats over the years.

Colin loved a good bonfire and took to the country life, chopping down trees and growing plants galore.

As well as his dedication to the Watercress Line and his animals, Colin was a regular churchgoer, worshipping for many years at the Church of the Good Shepherd, later moving on to St Andrew’s Church in Medstead.

At both churches he was a sidesman and reader, and he was also chairman of the local branch of Gideon International, placing Bibles into schools.

Later he accompanied Carol into local primary schools for the Bible Society’s Open the Book scheme.

Colin was of the generation who benefited from the free grammar school system, and qualified as a solicitor in 1964.

After some years in private practice, in 1981 he was appointed as a registrar – now known as a district judge – until he retired in 2007.

Legal Sunday was often marked by him donning his wig and gown as he processed into Winchester Cathedral with his colleagues.

Always keen to give back, he took on lecturing at Basingstoke College of Technology in the 1990s.

He was recognised for his work at a Buckingham Palace garden party, where he was happy to see Princess Diana among other royals.

He was approached on several occasions by local television companies and took part in Meridian’s Walk Over History programme.

After retirement he took to being a vintage film extra, and on one occasion ended up as an adviser to the production team on how to run a courtroom and how the lawyers should be dressed.

His family said: “Colin will be much missed by his family and all the people with whom he connected.

“He had an infectious enthusiasm, a love of people and a seemingly tireless appetite for his passions.

“He was a brother, husband, father and grandfather who fulfilled all those roles with love, kindness and generosity.

“The thanksgiving service will be a way to express gratitude for a life well lived.”