Donald was born in Great Harwood and, due to losing his sister when young, was essentially an only child. However, it was still a happy childhood. He became a choirboy at the local St John’s Church and he attended school in Great Harwood and then Accrington. He became involved in the Scouts, reaching the heights of King’s Scout, and later became a member of the Rover section.
When he met Marjorie he said that he had found "the best wife and best friend." They married at St James’ Congregational Church, Blackburn, and in time had Jill and Ian. Donald’s work with BT took the family to Staffordshire, where he lectured at the BT Training School, before a move back north to Preston in 1974 – just before a change of school for Jill.
Donald was a runner in the days when it was not the popular activity it is today, and was a member of the renowned Clayton-le-Moors Harriers. He competed in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Race no less than 21 times; he completed the Lake District’s Bob Graham Round – involving a distance of 66 miles and 27,000 feet of ascents and descents; he competed in the 1st Orienteering Competition in this country, organised by the S. Ribble Orienteering Club, and ascended all Scotland’s Munroes. He was also a long-standing member of the Rucksack Club. Marjorie spent much time waiting for a muddy Donald to come off the fells! However, she was not left at home all the time: they walked The Pennine Way together, finishing it on her 50th birthday. It was one of the best trips they had. When they were out walking together it was not unknown for Marjorie to say, "Slow down, you’re not with John Sheppard now!"
When at work Donald regularly went out at lunchtime for a run, inviting colleagues to join him – and he did manage to encourage some to take up running and fell running. Work was the means to an end; an interruption to the running. When out with a group of friends once, Donald said , as they faced the expanse of the countryside, "This is all mine!" It wasn’t necessarily about winning trophies but enjoying what he was doing. It was in the hills that he found himself and God.
On one occasion he teased Mike, Jill’s husband-to-be, that he could marry his daughter if he could beat him in a fell race. That never happened, but the two still married.
In later years Donald came to enjoy the research involved in discovering his family’s history. Looking at it from the perspective of an engineer, he searched for the facts: the story behind them has been left for Jill and Ian to finish. He found links back to 1066 and he also discovered a John Talbot who had defended Castillon – which had to be a good excuse for a visit to France.
Donald was affable; good humoured; possessed a wide smile and, most importantly, had the gift of kindness. There couldn’t have been a better husband, father and friend.