Exeter Yaroslavl Twinning Association
Общество Дружбы Ярославль-Эксетер
Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter, Exeter / Готический собор Святого Петра, ЭксетерEternal Flame, Yaroslavl, Russia / Вечный огонь, Ярославль, Россия Ярославль столица золотого кольца / Yaroslavl capital of the Golden Ring Gazebo on Volga - Kotorosl River Embankment, Yaroslavl, Russia / Беседка на Волге - Которосль набережной реки, Ярославль, Россия


Upcoming Events


08 January 2019

05 February 2019

05 March 2019

Informal EYTA Gathering

First Tuesday every Month

14:00 - 16:00

The Pantry Café

Royal Albert Memorial Museum,

Queen Street



Contact us

10 January 2018

19:00 - 21:30

Russian Xmas Dinner

@ thirty-four

Exeter College

Hele Road



Enquire about our Russian Xmas Dinner

14 January 2019

Russian Language Conversation Group

14:45 - 16:30


Вероника / Veronika or other Russian speaking member

Discussion Topic:


Enquire about our Russian Conversation Group

19 February 2019

Committee Meeting

19:00 - 21:00

We welcome people who are willing to be co-opted onto our committee as additional members

Our Commmittee

Summer 2019

We visit Yaroslavl

Personal Guests in Russian People's Homes

Enquire about our next visit



Contact Us







Exeter Language Club

Link to our YouTube Channel

Our YouTube Channel


Supported by

Exeter City Council

Exeter City Council Logo


Link to SSAFA Website, Lord Mayor's Charity 2018 - 2019


Foreign Language Centre, Exeter House, Yaroslavl



We are always pleased to take unwanted Russian books


Ron Charles Crabb

On 22 May 2018 we said our final goodbyes to Mr Ron Crabb BEM, a keen and deeply missed member of our association. A number of us attended his funeral in Exeter Cathedral and here is the eulogy given by Dr Todd Gray


RESPECT, if there is one word which is now being used repeatedly to describe Ron it is this: Respect. I would like to emphasise to Carol & Darren, Ron’s children, and all members of his wider family, just how widely and keenly this feeling of respect - and admiration and affection - is felt.


It is difficult for any eulogy to capture the essence of a person – we all know a different slice of an individual and we are all so multi-faceted. And eulogies often transform an individual we know into a person we don’t recognise: human beings can be turned into saints. It is fair to say that Ron had his human frailties as we all do: I am not the only one here who learned it was not wise to sit between Ron and a biscuit barrel…


But Ronald Charles Crabb had a remarkable life story and there were distinct phases – most of us know him from one or two of these. He began life as Ronald Sims, born in Dorset eighty-seven years ago. Ron had always understood he was adopted but `Gran’ did not explain those reasons. A few years ago now he asked me to look into his background and we spoke at length about his having to be prepared for what might have been uncomfortable truths. I discovered for him that he had a number of siblings and that only he had been sent out for adoption. Ron waited several years to proceed further and then it was through a granddaughter of his close friend Effie that he learned he had only recently missed meeting his last brother.


But he met the next generation and this was a moment of profound meaning and lasting satisfaction to him. Ron then learned that he & his brother not only had shared an enthusiasm for the Yeovilton Air Show but unbeknownst to either of them, they had both been there - at the same place and at the same time.


Ron achieved so very much given his disrupted start in life in Portsmouth. To some he was known as Crabbie, to others he was simply called Sir. This was dependent upon the period of his life in which one knew Ron: those who called him Crabbie served her Majesty in the forces, those who called him Sir had been her guests.


As a teenager Ron entered the Royal Marines at the age of 18 and served in the Mediterranean on HMS Cleopatra and HMS Ark Royal. He drove for Lord Louis Mountbatten and had one unfortunate incident when, as a young man, he had imbibed far more than was good for him and was hastily pushed into a corner (still incoherently singing) as Mountbatten inspected Ron’s comrades. Ron maintained his links with the Corps as a Branch Member, became Welfare Officer and was involved in the early days of the Mentoring scheme at the commando training centre at Lympstone. To the end of his life Ron remained inherently proud of being a Royal Marine.


He then worked for the prison service here in Exeter and spent some time in the auxiliary site at Haldon. This was a second important part of his life but there were three others that shaped the man.


Ron had a separate and parallel career for twenty years as a top class professional referee, officiating at all but one of the First/Premier Division Clubs in both England and across the continent. Later he often spoke of the players and even of once arriving late at Wembley: as he was changing in his car in the parking lot he heard an announcement on national radio that the referee, Ron Crabb, had yet to arrive.


In 1994 he began a new phase of his life as a Mace Sergeant in our Guildhall. His standard of service as a Royal Marine and Prison Warden shone through with his rigorous attention to detail. Ron served 23 mayors and Lord Mayors and was scrupulous in ensuring that the office functioned properly and that each Lord Mayor was presented to the public in the best and most appropriate manner. He was a stickler for protocol and honouring the office, honouring the city, honouring the people. Of his adopted city Ron was exceedingly proud.


Ron became a highly visible Exeter figure in mayoral appearances, in civic processions and even in greeting members of the Royal Family. For many Exonians he was the face of the Guildhall. One of my keenest memories of his time as a mace sergeant was the procession of women who came to the Guildhall – with their home-baked cakes & biscuits. He had a charisma – a charm - which was widely appreciated and reciprocated at home and as far afield as Russia.


His close friend Janet told me how difficult it was to make the walk with Ron from the civic centre to the Guildhall. Not only were the streets full of Exonians who knew him, but they always felt there were conversations which had to be shared. At length.


And it was through his connections with the council that Ron became involved in our twin sister city in Russia. He made thirty-four visits to Yaroslavl. From that city’s mayor came this message a few days ago `for many years Ron has been the symbol of Exeter and worked to the benefit of the city…. his passing is a great loss for everyone who knew this wise and strong person. Ronald Crabb will always be remembered by the citizens of Yaroslavl’.


From Russia he was awarded their Veterans Medal. Her Majesty awarded Ron the British Empire Medal, the Imperial Service Medal and the Queen’s Anniversary Medal. In 2014 Ron was given the title of Warden of Great Britain – the highest accolade given for mace sergeants - and most recently he was made a Freeman of the City of Exeter. I know of no other Exonian who has been so highly awarded by the city.


It was at a garden party at Buckingham Palace that Prince Philip singled out Ron for a conversation. The two spoke informally and as easily as Ron did with everyone that he knew. Ron respected people, and in return, they respected and valued him – whether a Scout, a Royal Marine, a prison inmate, a Professional footballer or a Lord Mayor.


The last year had not been easy health wise and in this I cannot help but recall some of the last words written by John Hooker, the man that built our Elizabethan Guildhall. More than four hundred years ago, working in the building at nearly the same age as Ron, he wrote that his `sight waxeth dim, my hearing is very thick, my speech imperfect and my memory feeble' he had become what he called `unwieldy’. Hooker would have approved of the devotion and honour Ron paid to his Guildhall and like Ron, was there up to the last few days of his life.


A number of people have told me that they felt Ron was an `old-fashioned gentleman’. He was. But he also held progressive, modern beliefs.


Ron had a hard start, and his subsequent journey in life was extraordinary, and now in this extraordinary building, in an extraordinary ceremony I know, having watched the faces here today, that I share a deep sadness with so many others that it has ended.