Petersfield Town Council has had to step in so a national bank in Canada could open a local man’s account to his widow.

Drake and Anna Hocking have bank accounts here, but as a young man Drake opened one in his name in Canada. 

Town mayor Peter Clist had to sign documents and stamp them with the official town seal testifying Drake, who died last August aged 81, had lived in Petersfield and Steep for more than 40 years. The documents were then countersigned by Anna.

She said: “It is a requirement of Canadian probate law – I wanted to arrive at the town hall in an old-style Western settlers’ wagon, but I couldn’t find one.” 

Cllr Clist added: “I didn’t even know the council had an official seal, or when it was last used, but it was found and the council is very pleased to be able to help Anna.”

Once the documents arrive in Canada, Anna will be able to access the account.   

Drake was born in India during the Second World War, and after the war his parents emigrated to Canada when he was four.

He grew up there, going on to complete an environmental degree in Alberta.

Anna added: “He also worked in Canada for 12 years.

“He then worked throughout Asia, including south-east Asia, as a tropical forester, planting trees rather than felling them. He must have been responsible for planting millions of trees.”

The couple then returned to England, living in Steep from 1980 to 2018 when they moved to Petersfield.

For many years Drake was a tree warden in Steep, and on moving to Petersfield he nurtured a seedling from a Metasequoia tree, otherwise known as a dawn redwood – one of three species of conifers known as redwoods.

It will grow to at least 165ft in height and more than 6ft in diameter.

When it is strong enough, it will be planted on Borough Hill.