Sandal People

 Charity worker Edwin beats dyslexia to earn a British Empire Medal

Wakefield-born charity worker and local businessman, Edwin Hirst, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to the community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.  Edwin (89) was born in Wakefield and, until a recent move to Chester to be near his daughter, had lived in the city all his life.

Edwin is well-known for his contributions to the civic, business and charity life of the city.  He served on Wakefield City Council (1960-1974), was Deputy Mayor of Wakefield City Council (1967-68) and served on West Yorkshire County Council (1977-1980).  He was a magistrate for Wakefield (1972-1997) and Member of the Board of Visitors for Wakefield Prison.

Edwin’s charity work includes: serving as chairman of St John’s and Northgate Aged Welfare Committee, chairman of the Wakefield & District Hospice Appeal, and committee member of the Wakefield and District Dyslexia Association. After retiring from business, he became a full-time fundraiser for Wakefield Hospice (1987-1993) and then for Macmillan Cancer Support (1993-97).

“It was a lovely surprise to learn of the award of a British Empire Medal and I am honoured to have been recognised in this way,” said Edwin. “Although my name will be engraved on the medal it should really be inscribed to ‘Edwin and Kathleen Hirst’ for I could not have carried out any of my community service to the City of Wakefield without the support of my wife, Kathleen.

“She knows of the life-long secret that I tried to keep from everyone, that of the disability of living with dyslexia and having severe difficulties with spelling and writing.  Kathleen has always helped and supported me with my dyslexia and I have done my best to overcome this challenge and make a worthwhile contribution to the life of our home town.

“My main object has always been to try to help people and it has been a pleasure to help the Wakefield Hospice and the Macmillan Cancer Support in their local fundraising and to receive so much support from many caring people.  I have been fortunate to make very many friends in Wakefield through my involvement with Rotary, Probus, Wakefield U3A, the West Riding Operatic Society, the wonderful Sandal Art Group and other local organisations.”

Edwin and Kathleen have also produced four books based on Edwin’s paintings of Wakefield landmarks, past and present.  The books, which are based on his own love of community and knowledge of local history are: Sandal Castle, Old Hall and Houses in and around Wakefield (2003), Some Interesting Buildings in and around Wakefield (2008), Churches, Chapels and Schools in and around Wakefield (2009), Some of Wakefield’s Public Houses (2010), A Walk around Sandal (2016).

Edwin added: “I am so very grateful for the help and love of my wife Kathleen, our three children John, Judith and David and their partners, our grandchildren and all our wonderful friends. I can’t thank them enough - they all have a share in the pride, honour and gratitude that the award of the British Empire Medal brings me.”

His son David told us: “Edwin’s family are absolutely delighted that his long and dedicated service to the community in Wakefield has been recognised with the award of a British Empire Medal. He's very thrilled with the recognition that the award brings and as you can imagine the family are very proud of him.” Edwin will receive his medal at a ceremony hosted by the Lord Lieutenant.

With Edwin approaching his 90th birthday, he and Kathleen made the difficult decision earlier this year to move from their hometown to live closer to their daughter in Chester. Edwin and Kathleen were founder members of the SCA.

Bob Bailey is ordained deacon

BOB BAILEY, who served as parish administrator for ten years in the parish of Sandal Magna, has been ordained deacon by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, after two years of theological training in Durham.
Members of St Helen's and St Paul's attended the service in Bradford Cathedral, along with others who have shared his faith journey, including leaders of the Hilfield Youth Camp. He will be serving as a curate at Barwick-in-Elmet, working alongside the Revd Andy Nicholson.

Sandal vicar, the Rev Rupert Marin, said: "Our church and many parishioners have been blessed by his ministry among us. We wish him every blessing in his new calling, and him and his family every happiness in their new home." A delighted Bob is pictured here with Sally Martin after his ordination.

Another award for winning Sandal author

AWARD-WINNING Sandal author and SCA member John Irving Clarke (pictured) htook first prize in a nationwide fiction-writing competition organised by South Tyneside Libraries. His story, ‘Visiting Time’, was awarded the Flash Fiction prize where submissions had to be only 100 words long.

Later this month (July) John will launch a book of short stories entitled ‘The Word for Moving Clouds’. This consists of 14 stories dealing with human relationships from writers associated with the Red Shed Readings and celebrates ten years of Wakefield’s famous spoken word event. The Yorkshire Post placed this book at number one in their list of top five books in June.

David Hopkins stands down after 17 years as South Ward councillor

FORMER Wakefield mayor David Hopkins, who has represented the South Ward as a councillor for the past 17 years, celebrates his 80th birthday this year and will not be seeking re-election in May.

Among his achievements he includes chairing the Standbridge Lane Community Development Trust during its early formation, obtaining a 25-year lease on the former school and gaining charity and limited company status for the community centre. But he says his greatest disappointment has been the failure to stop West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club being moved to Walton.

He also recalls the events of June 2007 when 400 homes were flooded, mostly in the Agbrigg area, and remembers with pride the eventual opening of the flood alleviation scheme in 2012, which came about after he and Coun Monica Graham worked closely with Wakefield council and the Environment Agency.

He added: “In Sandal, trying to improve traffic and highways issues has resulted in no more than modest results. On Standbridge Lane, I managed to get the direction sign for lorries heading towards Barnsley covered up for a couple of years until the Highways Department decided to uncover it again. HGVs are also a nightmare on Chevet Lane; my modest success there has been the introduction of double white lines around the Carr Lane bends. Alas a plan to weight restrict HGVs towards Havercroft foundered at the last hurdle. One Sandal success has been my involvement with the Friends of Sandal Castle.”

David’s mayoral year in 2005-06 was a personal highlight. He said: “Over 400 visits and events attended across the district, plus a record £29,500 raised for charity, half to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance with the remainder promoting music and drama, especially among young people.”

He added that having served on the planning committee for over ten years, he knows that he has probably upset as many people as he has pleased, “such is the outcome when dealing with planning matters that are governed by national and local policies and guidance, and an appeal system that makes few concessions for common sense over the bureaucratic process”.

He added: “A fair amount of individual casework across the ward has always been a satisfying part of my endeavours and even here I have to apologise to those residents where my efforts have proved in vain. I can only say I did my best!”

RIGHT: David Hopkins (centre) with Coun Monica Graham and volunteers from Wakefield Rotary Club during early clearing out of rubbish at the former school which is now the thriving Standbridge Community Centre

Romance under the Northern Lights

HOW romantic is that! Nicole Bolger and Mark Etherington are joint owners of the FortyThree Cafe on Standbridge Lane with Nicole's mum Wendy. It's a busy life so the young couple were quickly back at work after a three-night stay in Rekjavik during which Mark popped the question to Nicole under a display of the Northern Lights. He said: "The timing was tricky because sometimes the display can last only a few minutes, but it worked out OK." A delighted Nicole was showing her engagement ring to friends and cafe customers the day after their return.

Mark added: "It was a good job she said yes or it might have been an awkward flight home!" He and Nicole have supported a number of Sandal Community Association events, including last year's Scarecrow Festival. The original post on the SCA's Facebook page about their engagement attracted nearly 2,400 views.

Photos from Nicole's and Mark's Facebook pages.

Actor Mark says Corrie experience was 'surreal'

SANDAL actor Mark Briggs featured in a scene in ITV’s top-rated soap Coronation Street in October after filming during the summer.

Mark, 48, told the Wakefield Express:  “It was an absolutely fantastic day even if it was a little surreal. The scene itself only took around two hours to film but I spent the day with all of the cast.

“I was looked after brilliantly. Myself and Alan Halsall, who plays Tyrone, were chauffeur-driven to where they were filming the scene. I also met Malclolm Hebden, who plays Norris, and he ended up making me a cup of coffee. To say the whole experience was surreal would be an understatement.”

Mark, who works as supply teacher, is also a freelance actor with the agency Urban Talent. He said: “I have only got about nine lines in the scene but the whole experience was just amazing. I met Thomas Ormson, who plays David Platt, and I shared a room with James Atherton, who plays the new bad boy Jamie Bowman."

He added: “I am hoping they liked me enough to invite me back.”

Mark has previously appeared in the BBC drama The Chase in which he played a photographer.

Marisa takes over from Bob as Sandal's  parish administrator

MARISA KAPP has become Sandal Magna parish administrator, succeeding Bob Bailey who has trained for ordination into the priesthood at Durham. The two of them are pictured together shortly before Bob's departure.

The Vicar, the Rev Rupert Martin, said at the time: "We want to say a big thank you to Bob who has been an unbelievable friend and colleague to us."  He also wrote in Grapevine, the parish magazine, about the Bishop's recommendation that Bob should go forward for training: "It doesn't come as a surprise as for 11 years Bob has exercised a wonderful pastoral and administrative, design and technology ministry here, and is more than ready to move into this new ministry... Obviously we will miss Bob and Jess, Rose, Reuben and Jacob enormously, but we want to wish them every blessing in their new calling and ministry as a family."

Mr Martin and the churchwardens decided unanimously to give the job to Marisa, who was described as an “outstanding candidate”. Martin Porritt wrote Grapevine: “She has a real devotion to Christ and has a solid background in administration, having worked for the prominent accounting firm KPMG, and having run her own business. She will continue to carry out her five-hour contract covering baptisms, Boogie-Woogie Tots and Families@4 in addition to the 20-hour per week role as Parish Administrator.”

Mr Martin adds: “We are blessed to have someone of Marisa’s calibre and personality called by God to serve in this vital ministry, in which Bob has served so brilliantly.”

SCA members move into top jobs in two clubs

Two Sandal Community Association members (left) stepped into top jobs in Wakefield Rotary Club, which meets each week at the New Brookhouse Club at Busy Corner. Last July Michael Townsend (left) took over the reins as president for 2015-16, succeeding Stuart Livesey.

One of Michael's first jobs was to install Dr Neale Clarke as president elect. Neale will sit on the club's governing council and will take over from Michael in a year's time. Michael, a jeweller with businesses in both Wakefield and Wetherby, joined the club 18 years ago and is its 95th president. SCA member Dr Gerald Hancocks took over as chairman of Calder Probus Club at the group's 26th annual general meeting, held at the St Pierre Hotel, Newmillerdam. He succeeded David Pickover, who formally handed over the reins at the meeting (pictured right). The club, which meets monthly and organises a variety of outings, offers a warm welcome to retired business and professional men. For more details call Gerald on 01924 255151.

Expert Barry offers to help fix your computer problems - for free!

Struggling with your computer? Need some assistance? Getting error messages that you can’t understand, let alone fix?

Well, your difficulties may be over, thanks to SCA member Barry Newton who is offering to share his expertise, especially with those aged 50 or over. Barry, retired and aged 63, is volunteering his services to local Microsoft Windows users who are desperate for this sort of help. He joined BT in Sheffield as a 16-year-old apprentice engineer and was sponsored to do an electrical engineering degree, eventually becoming a chartered engineer. His tasks later included acting as project manager for the modernisation of some of BT’s computer systems.

He went on to work in the quality control department of a manufacturing company where he developed and ran computer programs to check the exact dimensions and shapes of precision-manufactured parts, ranging from orthopaedic implants to aircraft turbo blades. Now he is offering to make his expertise available to people in Sandal – completely free of charge.

He spent much of his spare time messing about with electronics circuits, including building radio transmitter/receivers and communicating with other radio amateurs, sometimes in distant countries, long before the days of mobile phones. He has been involved with using computers since 1971 and in about 1980 built his own primitive computer, running home-made programs which were initially stored and loaded using magnetic tape and cassette recorder, In those days there no floppy disks or CDs, let alone online storage.

Now he plans to spend his free time differently. He says: “I enjoy helping those who are struggling to use their computers so I'd like to volunteer my services to local people needing this type of assistance. I'm especially interested in helping those in the over-50 age group. I know that there are many such people who would like to enrich their lives by using computers more, but just need a bit of help from time to time.”

Barry, who lives in Pledwick, first publicised his offer on the StreetLife social media site where he soon had some grateful takers. He can be contacted on 01924 694370 and he has now set up a dedicated email address at

Doctor and author Keith turns the spotlight on dementia for latest book

SCA member Keith Souter hit the national headlines in March when the first of a series of extracts from his latest book appeared in the Daily Mail. Keith, a retired doctor and Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has written Your Guide to Understanding and Dealing with Dementia, published by Summersdale at £8.99.

The first Daily Mail article (pictured here) was spread over three pages and included a guide to the tell-tale warnings of dementia. You can also see an online version at the  Daily Mail website. Our other image, borrowed from Keith's Facebook page, shows him with granddaughters Lyla and Martha. In addition to popular medical books, Keith writes historical fiction and westerns. You'll find more about him and his work at

He added: "It is truly brilliant that Sandal Library is the country's first dementia-friendly community library. Something they can be proud of."

Roland Mold, This is Your Rotary Life..!

ROLAND MOLD was bowled over when a surprise ‘This is Your Life…’ presentation marked the 50th anniversary of the day he joined the Rotary movement in Hong Kong.

Roland, an SCA member who lives in Attlee Crescent, saw a great deal of the world in his job with travel agents Thomas Cook with whom he also served in Singapore and India, as well as the UK. He joined Hong Kong Rotary club on 16 February 1965, remaining a member until June the following year when he returned to England where he joined the Bromley club. He later became a Rotarian in Norwich where he was posted with Thomas Cook. After other moves – and a short gap in his Rotary service – he joined the Doncaster club in 1976, transferring to the Rotary Club of Wakefield in 1991.

In Wakefield he has become well known for his work with the Right to Read programme in schools, launched locally in 2003, and the schools chess competition which was inaugurated three years later. He is still heavily involved with both, particularly at Sandal Magna Community Academy, and he is now helping to introduce chess to students at Sandal Castle Primary School. In 2009 his community work led to him receiving a Paul Harris Fellowship, the highest award a Rotary club can make.

The ‘This is your Rotary Life…’ slideshow in February at a club meeting at the New Brookhouse Club was presented by president Stuart Livesey, who read greetings and congratulations from all the clubs to which Roland has belonged in his long career in Rotary, including those in Hong Kong and Singapore. Roland was handed the folder containing all the information and also a special 12-page booklet, outlining his Rotary service and packed with photos charting his work with the Wakefield club. And to round it off he was presented with a framed print of member Roger Brown’s Wakefield Cityscape artwork which now forms part of the club’s corporate image. It was made special by the addition of a brass plaque recording the occasion for which it was given. Roland, known for his hearty laugh, is not usually a man lost for words but he had just one to summarise the evening: “Wonderful!”

ABOVE LEFT: Roland pictured at the moment he realised what was happening

Double heart-swap survivor Giles in plea for more organ donors

SANDAL double heart transplant survivor Giles McVicar has marked the 25th anniversary of his life-saving operation with an appeal to people to become organ donors.

Father of two boys, Giles, 42, who lives in Woolgreaves Drive, said: “There is a shortage of donated organs but if more families agreed to donate a loved one’s organs, more people would get the the transplants they need.”  When he was only 17 years old, Giles was struck down with viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle usually caused by a virus. It meant that he had to undergo a heart-swap operation in January 1990 at the former Killingbeck Hospital in Leeds. But that heart, which had come from a 60-year-old, failed and nine years later he had to have another transplant at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.

The new heart was from a younger man and Giles is now able to lead a busy life with his family – wife Susan, a teacher at Shafton Primary Academy, and sons Harry, 11, and Robert, nine. In the meantime, Giles has also battled successfully with lymphoma cancer, diagnosed in 1992. He has been clear of the disease since his last chemotherapy treatment in 2011.

He has stepped forward now because he wants to emphasise the importance of organ donation. He said: “The main message I want to get across to people is to register as a donor, but more importantly to talk about it with family so if the worst happens they know what your wishes are. If families are having to make a decision at that time, a lot of them say no, even if your name is on the register.”

Despite his past challenges, Giles now leads an active life and he will be competing in golf and badminton at the Westfield Health British Transplant Games later this year.

If you would like to get your name on the NHS organ donor register, call 0300 123 2323 or go to The service is also on Facebook.

Another accolade for top tennis man

FORMER champion Peter Wilkes, 68, has been handed a top tennis honour – the Lawn Tennis Association's  Meritorious Service award – for a 55-year commitment to the sport as both a player and volunteer administrator.

Peter, who lives in Sandal, received the award at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in London. He has also been presented with the organisation’s award for Outstanding Service to Yorkshire Tennis.

His many achievements in the sport include representing his county at the 1963 Junior Wimbledon, winning the Yorkshire mixed under-18 doubles championship and both the Yorkshire men’s and mixed doubles. He was the Wakefield club’s champion no fewer than 20 times between 1963 and 1985. To add to this he was chairman of the British Davis Cup and British Fed Cup in 2006-08 and the Aegon Classic women’s event from 2011 until last year.

Peter also served for 44 years as the Wakefield representative on the LTA’s executive council. He said: “The award is a huge honour. Playing tennis and administering has been such a big part of my life for more than 50 years and I am certainly going to miss it.”

Photo courtesy Wakefield Express

Early riser Keith earns newsagents' award of merit

Keith Challenger, 74, who starts work at 4am every day at Sandal News at Busy Corner, has been honoured for all his hard work. The newspaper deliveryman earned the National Federation of Retail Newsagents Store to Door Deliverer Merit Award.

He told the Wakefield Express: "I'm fit and healthy and I shall carry on as long as I can."


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Photo courtesy Wakefield Express

Jonny's 'fantastic' ten-week experience helping poor Indian village

FORMER Three Houses chef Jonny Lodge needed more than his culinary skills when he spent ten weeks as a volunteer working in an impoverished Indian community. The 22-year-old, now a financial advisor in Outwood, described the experience as a ‘really big eye-opener’.

Jonny, who lives in Woolgreaves Garth, Sandal, went to the village of Kanakari with development charity Raleigh International, under the auspices of International Citizen Service (ICS), a UK government-funded development programme that brings together young people to work in some of the poorest communities in the world.

He said: “I heard an advert on Spotlight Radio advertising ICS and I never thought anything of it. Then, after maybe the third or fourth time it was on, I decided to Google it and look into doing it. I was in a work transition period at the time and thought it would be a fantastic thing to be involved in.”

Jonny spent his time in Kanakari helping improve health, hygiene and education. He worked on building a new community hall and teaching local people English, health and safety and teamwork. He said: “It was a fantastic experience and a really big eye-opener for me. I want my journey to inspire others and I would encourage anyone aged 18-25 to get out there and do it. It makes me proud to know I took part in the ICS project and not only has it been life-changing for me, but also for that warm Indian community who embraced us and the things we were trying to teach and do.” Since coming home he has volunteered at Raleigh events, catering and facilitating volunteers’ pre-departure training.

TOP RIGHT: International friendship - Jonny with Kanakari's village leader

ABOVE: It wasn't all non-stop work. Here the volunteers (Jonny second from left) take time out for some fun

Centenarian Dorothy's card from the Queen

Sandal has another centenarian - Dorothy May Bramald celebrated her 100th birthday in November, marked by a photo of her in the Wakefield Express with her card from the Queen. Dorothy has a daughter, a granddaughter and two great-granddaughters.

Our thanks to the Express for giving us permission to use the photo.

Roger seeks grandfather's lost First World War medal

RESEARCH by SCA committee member Roger Holmes into his grandfather’s service during the First World War paid off with a full page feature in the Wakefield Express.

Wakefield postman George Willie Woodhead, serving as a reservist in HMS Cressy, was one of the lucky survivors of a dramatic incident in the early stages of the war when, in less than an hour, one primitive German U-boat sank three cruisers on patrol off the Dutch coast.

More than 1,450 men died but George lived to tell the tale in the Wakefield Express of 3 October 1914, only a week after the carnage in the North Sea. His account can be read in full in the Express feature.

George, who lived in Portobello Road, was 36 years old at the time and had earlier experience in the Royal Navy, serving in HMS Monarch during the Boer War of 1899-1902. This earned him the Queen’s South Africa Medal with the Cape Colony clasp. For his First World War service he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Roger has the first three medals but the bronze Victory Medal has been lost. It might well still be in the Wakefield area and Roger would be delighted to learn if anyone knows its whereabouts. It will be named on the edge to 175800 G.W. Woodhead, A.B., R.N. Email us at

Roger attended a 100th anniversary event commemorating the loss of the three cruisers – Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue – at the Historic Dockyard at Chatham. They were torpedoed by U-9, commanded by Otto Weddigen, who became a German national hero as a result of his exploits. He was killed with the rest of his crew when U-9 was rammed by the British battleship Dreadnought on 18 March 1915.  George died aged 59 in 1937, so Roger never knew him.

TOP: An artist's impression of the incident in which George Woodhead's ship was sunk

ABOVE LEFT: Roger with his grandfather's medals and the Wakefield Express feature

RIGHT: George in his Royal Navy uniform

LEFT: A bronze Victory Medal identical to George's lost medal. It will have his name impressed on the edge.

Our thanks to the Wakefield Express and in particular to Gemma Jimmison for permission to use her feature

Club's manager set to renew long-distance record bid

GAVIN FELTON, the new manager at West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club, should be a good organiser – until four years ago he was a regimental sergeant major in the Royal Logistics Corps with 24 years’ service behind him. He’s someone who’s used to getting the job done, whatever the task may be.

This 45-year-old long-distance runner’s commitment to sport and fitness is beyond question. In April he set out to establish a Land End’s to John O’Groats world record but it was an attempt that ended in disaster when he finished up in a ditch with an injured leg after being ‘taken out’ by a lorry. Gavin, who was running to raise money for Barnsley Hospice, said at the time: “I am totally gutted. I am sorry for letting people down but I will be back next year.”  And that’s exactly what he is planning. He is due to have an operation on his leg before the end of 2014 with the aim of getting back on the road in August next year, chasing the Guinness World Record time of nine days, two hours, 21 minutes. Supporting the father-of-two along the 863-mile route will be his wife, Vicky, who is also ex-Royal Logistics Corps.

Gavin, who lives at Monk Bretton, is a veteran of no fewer than 48 road marathons and 19 cross-country marathons. In preparation for his April record bid he used last September’s Yorkshire Marathon as a training test, running 40 miles from Barnsley to York, taking a three-hour break, then completing the marathon. He took five hours and eight minutes to get to York and still ran the marathon in three hours and 20 minutes.

Gavin has marked his arrival at West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club with a number of new ventures. These include a jogging club aimed at beginners and fun runners, when mums and dads can leave their youngsters in the care of Gavin who will keep them entertained both indoors and outdoors. And then there will be a walking football club for those aged over 50, both men and women. “It really works,” said Gavin “and it’s aimed at getting people outdoors and into the fresh air.” He needs seven or eight names to get the project off the ground and he hopes to set up matches with similar teams from Rotherham and Huddersfield.

To find out more about both projects, call Gavin on 01924 258528 or contact him through the club’s Facebook page. He is also planning for a ‘Sandal Ultra’ next February when there will be trophies and medals for 50-mile and 100-mile events on a one-mile circuit at the club. Runners will be able to compete individually, in pairs or in teams. “It will all be done within a 24-hour period and it should be a great event,” said Gavin.

LOWER PICTURE: Gavin in training earlier this year (

Kitty marks her centenary

WHEN Kitty Pollard celebrated her 100th birthday in September, she paid tribute to her former neighbours in Sandal, who became ‘family’ after her husband died. For nearly 50 years her home was in Beechfield, off Barnsley Road, although now she lives at Brantwood Hall Care Home in Wakefield

Kate (Kitty) Robinson Pollard marked her special day with a party at the home where she also received a telegram from the Queen.

She was born in Horbury on 18 September 1914 and went to Horbury Council School before gaining a scholarship to Thornes House School. She later worked in the accounts department at the former Charles Roberts railway works company in Horbury. She has fond memories of her time with the firm – little wonder because it was there that she met her future husband Donald Pollard. The couple married in 1944 and set up home on Denby Dale Road, later moving to Sandal.

Donald died in 1964 and he and Kitty never had any children. However, she has two nephews, one niece and nine great nephews and nieces. Nephew John Pollard told the Wakefield Express: “She is simply amazing. She is of a generation who lived through two world wars and considerable hardship and yet through sheer determination and true Yorkshire grit, she managed not only to survive, but to be an inspiration to all.”                                                                                               Photo by Roger Holmes

A drive down Memory Lane for car buff Neil

NEIL BROOK is a true enthusiast – get him talking about the two aging but pristine Austins that you’ll sometimes find parked on his drive in Mountbatten Avenue and there’s no stopping him.

Both have special significance for this 65-year-old retired debt recovery supervisor. He bought his 1933 Austin 10/4 Delux Saloon in 2003 from a garage in Thornton le Dale after he spotted it on a day out: “Back in 1966 when I was 18 I had an identical car, my very first car. I couldn’t resist the temptation to relive my youth. However, there was one very big difference – back in 1966 I paid £35!”

He learned to drive in his father’s A50 Cambridge, a vehicle identical to the second Austin he owns. When he bought it in 2008 it had covered just 30,916 miles and even now it remains almost as new. Neil said: “The interior is all original and the exterior paintwork is mostly the original cellulose, apart from some minor repair work carried out during its normal working life.”

Both cars have starred in BBC television dramas – with Neil behind the wheel. Three years ago the Austin 10 appeared during the funeral scene in South Riding, starring Anna Maxwell Martin and David Morrissey. Last year his Cambridge masqueraded as a police car in The Great Train Robbery – A Copper’s Tale, starring Jim Broadbent and Robert Glenister. Neil said: ‘It was in the scene where they arrested Ronnie Biggs, with Biggs looking out of the back window and me driving him off. TV and film work with old cars is great fun and I hope to get to do some more in the future.”

The A50, first registered on 12 October 1956 in Denbighshire, still has its original engine, gearbox and final drive. Following some mechanical recommissioning and conversion to unleaded fuel, it now runs and performs as well as it did when new, when it cost just £720 15s 10d. Neil added: “It won’t run on cheap supermarket fuel and must have high octane branded petrol. Consumption is about 27mpg on a run and about 20mpg around town.”

The more elderly Austin 10 does somewhat better, achieving 33mpg, dropping to 25mpg around town. Top speed was 55mph when it was new but now Neil cruises at 35-40mph, sometimes to the frustration of drivers behind him! It still has its original Shropshire registration number, UJ 2429. Neil said: “Original numbers on historic cars are now becoming rare due the demand for personal registrations. Many are sold off and replaced. In some cases values for original registrations can run into thousands.”

When the car was supplied new in December 1933, it cost £172 10s. Over the years it has had some light restoration but still retains its original leather seats.

OUR PICTURES: top, Neil Brook with his two gleaming Austins. He has extended the garage at his home in Mountbatten Avenue to house the cars, instead of accommodating them elsewhere in the city; above right, Neil’s A50 Cambridge served as a police car in the BBC television production ‘The Great Train Robbery – A Copper’s Tale’, starring Jim Broadbent; left, the actor Jack Gordon, who played Ronnie Biggs in ‘The Great Train Robbery – A Copper’s Tale’, poses beside the A50 just after the filming of his arrest scene.

For more photos go to the album on the SCA's Facebook page

Film work adds 'extra' spice to Ian's life

ASSOCIATION member Ian Laidler is leading a double life. Sometimes you’ll find the 58-year-old busy working as a militaria dealer, at other times he’s in front of the camera as an extra in film and TV productions that have ranged from the award-winning The King’s Speech to Coronation Street.

Late in 2013 he was filming for a new seven-part BBC drama series, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, based on the best-selling novel by Susanna Clarke, set during the Napoleonic Wars in an England where magic once existed and is about to return. Some of this was shot in the Wakefield area in the New Year 2014 and by that time Ian, dressed in period costume, had already been filmed near Easingwold, carrying a coffin to the grave. Immediately before that he was playing the role of a bass guitarist in an episode of Coronation Street. Shortly before his switch to becoming a guitarist, he was a pirate in Jamaica Inn, for which he had to grow a beard and long hair.

Ian, who lives in Wavell Grove, Sandal, said: “My friends and family are bemused by my ‘acting career’, never knowing what I will look like. My daughter Kim was panicking about her wedding day because she didn’t want me turning up with a beard. Her wish was granted because I had a change of role just in time.” For Jonathan Strange he has to have long hair and sideburns, so this is his current look.

He added: “I really enjoy the period drama work. Getting into character is fun with lots of laughs with the cast and crew alike. The days can be long, cold and wet, with a lot of sitting around. It teaches you patience but you find out from the inside how these productions are made.” Ian has appeared in a wide range of television series including Shameless, Hollyoaks, Celebrity Super Spa, Pat and Cabbage and CBBC’s All at Sea. He’s also in the current Nike advert with Wayne Rooney and golfer Rory McIlroy and the latest Christmas TV ad for the Co-op. He said: “I have to say a big thank you to my friend Kevin Grundy for getting me into this and to my agent Mark at Mint Casting for all his professional help.”

Retired vet's model Lysander recalls heroic Second World War clandestine ops

FORMER veterinary surgeon Peter Rhodes was flying high when his Westland Lysander scale model aircraft – with a wing span of nearly 6ft – made its first successful venture into the air in May 2014 following two disastrous attempts. The last of these led to Peter inserting an extra section into the wing, a significant and time-consuming modification.

But it was worth the effort and Peter is now proud to show off his electric-powered, radio-controlled model, which he spent 18 months building from plans. It is painted black to represent one of the Second World War aircraft famous for clandestine operations during which they flew agents into German-occupied Europe. Their short takeoff and landing capabilities made them ideal for this very dangerous task. The model's colour scheme has been adopted from an original Lysander that forms part of the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden in Bedordshire.

Peter, whose home was for many years in Woolgreaves Drive, Sandal, is retired from his Wakefield veterinary practice and now lives in Midgley. He said: “This is a rejuvenation for me. I began building and flying model aircraft when I was a 13-year-old lad, so this has really taken me back.”

The Lysander's next outing wasn't exactly an unqualified success and Peter had to recover from one or two unexpected spins: He said: "On the second flight, in spite of my every effort, the model ended up in high nettles, thistles, gorse and assorted thicket. It wasn't until I was waist high in the stuff that I remembered I was wearing shorts and open-toed sandals..!"

Despite these hazards it’s certainly less risky than his last hobby which was building and racing cars in hill-climb events."Age helped me think again about that," he said.

Norman, 81, umpires his last match

AFTER 65 years’ involvement in local cricket, first as a player, 81-year-old Norman Hazell, from Sandal, has finally decided in 2013 to retire as an umpire and put away his cricket whites for the last time. He oversaw his last match when Pledwick first team played Ferrybridge in September.

“I felt tremendously sad,” he said. “My eyesight is still good but I decided it was time to draw stumps. My old legs get tired.” Norman even kept up with his umpiring duties when he was mayor in millennium year.

“It was a great time but I wasn’t going to let it stop me enjoying my cricket,” he said. “I just love the game and there’s no better place to watch than from behind the wickets.”    Photo courtesy Wakefield Express 

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