This is a photo of my dead father. He died in 1974. He was 63. He was born exactly 108 years ago today, in London, within the sound of Bow Bells, which made him a true Cockney. He moved to Yorkshire in 1937 and worked as a railway signalman. In the war years he was in the Home Guard.
He was a parish councillor, a County Councillor and then a County Alderman. He became Chairman of the West Riding Education Committee. He presided over official school openings. He spoke publicly about his passion for education and the importance of good teacher training.
Because of his status and his accent, people thought we were posh, and rich. We were not. He was still a railway signalman on three shifts. On Sundays he worked 12 hour days, or 12 hour nights, to make up for the hours and pay lost through his council duties. He wrote with his right hand because he had been punished at school for using his left one. He wrote poetry. He made crosswords. He always used his left hand to draw. He smoked a pipe.
I didn’t see him much. I didn’t know him very well. After his death, the swimming pool he had campaigned for at Aston Comprehensive School was given his name. It’s gone now. But I’m proud that he made his mark.