Wolferstans Solicitors saddened at the loss of David Gabbitass
We were all saddened at Wolferstans to hear that just before midnight on the 19 January 2024 David Gabbitass passed away at Derriford Hospital.
David, a grammar School Boy from Taunton had been undertaking National Service before he applied to join the Devonport and Plymouth Police on the 23 April 1956. When Charles Turner of Wolferstans Snell and Turner was appointed to act in the purchase of their new home, David’s wife Pam mentioned to Charles that since the age of 10 David had always wanted to be a lawyer. This led to David joining Wolferstans Snell and Turner in 1959 to undertake his articles. Within 6 months he was practicing conveyancing and by 1965 he had become a Partner.
In view of his police background, David set up the Criminal Department which subsequently became the largest criminal practice outside of Bristol. The department also acted for many Government departments including Treasury Solicitor and Director of Prosecutions. David was a formidable Advocate in the Criminal Courts with his direct and straightforward style and became the lawyer to see if you were in trouble.
Upon Brian Moore retiring in 1970, David became the Senior Partner of Wolferstans Snell and Turner, the name of which he shortened to Wolferstans. By his own admission, he ran the practice as a dictatorship! In 1970 he moved the firm to the purpose-built premises in North Hill and the firm expanded and became increasingly successful, leading to opening the offices in Plymstock, Plympton, Crownhill, Saltash, Bristol and Taunton.
David was President at Plymouth Law Society in 1988 and then ensured Wolferstans became a founder member of the Law Group UK network in January 1989, with David subsequently becoming chair of the network. Under David’s leadership, Wolferstans shot up the Legal 500 Table to 251st spot.
David and Paul Woods collaborated in the merger of Wolferstans with Rundle McDonald & Rendle in 1992, to ensure that Wolferstans became the third largest firm in Plymouth.
David continued to lead the success of the firm until his retirement at 65, when he left Wolferstans in March 2001 and was appointed to the prestigious Criminal Injuries’ Compensation Board.
David’s main sporting passions were cricket and rugby. He was Vice Chair of his beloved Somerset Cricket Club in 2012 when he was made an honorary life member. He continued to attend at the old “Wolferstans’ Box” until the end of the season in 2023. His love of cricket was not limited to the professionals, and David in true Captain Mannering style, led the Wolferstans “Social” cricket team in the fearlessly competitive summer seasons for many years.
David ran the team like he ran the firm – he was never out and was constantly complaining that Simon Parford was batting too slowly! David continued to come and watch the current Wolferstans cricket team (and offer his advice from the boundary) at Mount Wise.
David also had a massive love for rugby and was President of Plymouth Albion from 1986 to 1991 and again in May 2016, where he proudly cheered on his son Charlie and his grandson Freddie.
On the outside David was on occasions a scary, larger-than-life character who could be very direct and to the point (although with a smile on his face). However, the truth was that underneath that tough exterior, David was a gentle, generous, kind man with a wicked sense of humour (despite what he said to us publicly, he actually enjoyed the Wolferstans annual Christmas pantomime where the staff constantly took the mickey out of him).
He was a dedicated family man. Within Wolferstans he was a mentor, an inspiration, and a friend. He will be hugely missed by all of us at Wolferstans.
We would like to pay our condolences and send our thoughts to Charlie and David’s family at this time.