Congratulations Dot Seage (that’s to those of us who were school classmates) on being awarded the MBE - that is being appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire. Dot received notice of the good tidings in a letter from Downing Street in early May.....how on earth did she keep it confidential until the Queen’s Birthday Honours List was published on the 15th June? The award was made for her efforts and work in the Probation Service helping less fortunate families overcome difficulties and setting them on the road to recovery in collaboration with other agencies. Dot modestly claims that the rewards outweigh the disappointments in doing such a worthwhile job and that she and Peter and Debbie her daughter and family are looking forward to the big day and presentation at Buckingham Palace by the Queen. The whole family is very proud of her, the whole village is equally proud of her and two people who would have been more proud than anybody would have been Julie and Fred.
So, off she went to keep that 5th of November appointment with toothbrush, tiara and travel bag with all the family intent on taking in some sightseeing as well. Dorothy most of all treasures the actual presentation and the Queens words, she, like all the family absorbing the atmosphere of the palace ballroom, the regal trappings, the orchestra of the Scots Guards in the background and other presentations to the great and famous. Well done Dorothy Masterman MBE
Probably the most visible person in the village, notwithstanding that his 6’ 3” frame has been on view in some capacity for 60 odd years or more. Don is most likely best known for his long service with the church choir. He describes himself as a second tenor, however he can choose to sing above his normal tone giving the choir an added range. Singing has played a significant part in his life -he was a founder member of the Rose & Crown Glee Club which was to become the Methley Male Voice Choir.
Don started work as a delivery boy for Braimes butchers shop, a job that put him immediately in the public eye. His height certainly dictated his posting to the military police during national service. Work as caretaker at the new school and undertaking gardening work in the Methley area meant that he wasn’t out of sight for very long despite working a ten year stint at the copper works in Leeds.
With his long stride he was even more conspicuous during his stretch (10 years) as a postman in the village along with assisting as gravedigger when required.
The church has enjoyed and benefitted from the tall presence of Don Beilby for over 60 years now. He has played many roles but one that he was probably most prominent with was that of bell ringer, you didn’t see him, but you certainly heard him on Sunday, morning and evening alike. It is here that I have to admit that along with Terry Barrett we were given the sack by Don in 1956 for eating chestnuts whilst trying to tug the ropes in sequence. He is still a big feller today when he kindly declines to remember the occasion.
Sadly Don departed this mortal world on the 18th May, 2014.
They presented Nora with a beautiful inscribed cut glass bowl at the Banqueting Suite at Leeds Civic Centre in November, 2002. Nora had earlier been nominated for Supervisor of the Year from her post as Catering Supervisor at Methley Infant School and was chosen before almost 200 other nominees.within the Leeds area. I bet she got a kick when the envelope was opened and her name was called out to walk up to the stage to receive her award. The City Elders had finally realised what most people in Methley already knew, certainly all of the kids who had benefitted from her school menus. (Its not like it used to be - minced beef on Tuesdays, boiled fish on......) Nora was certainly tops at dinner time in her 25 years at the school. Cycling each day up the village to Little Church Lane School she deservedly earned the sobriquet ‘meals on wheels’.
Nora has played a fuller role in this community, immersed for many years with the Brownies. Snowy Owl or Arkala I know not, but she certainly provided a good example to all those aspiring girl guides. She has been an avid fund raiser for the school during this time and been involved in a variety of charitable works. I of course had completely forgotten as 6?year olds, Nora Bowman had played Minnie Ha Ha to my Hiawatha at Mickletown School.
‘Amazing Grace’, Cliff Hawes affectionately called her as she was so regarded by many in Methley. Grace Causier (Moore) was probably better known than the Rector or the Doctor in post war austerity times. I only knew her as the lady who ran the off licence shop on Main Street - you took your empty jug in and came out with a foaming container of draught ale to drink at home (some took big jugs). She it was who started in business selling green groceries from the pony and trap before getting the shop.
Always one to play a role in the community, she revelled in fancy dress outfits such as Carmen Miranda at the annual Methley Carnival - when challenged as to why she won so many of these competitions she gave short shrift by saying she entered more than anybody else. Along with fellow thespian Millicent Flintoff, they were uproariously entertaining at the Parish Hall shows as can-can girls, not many could match Grace with her rendition of ‘Nobody loves a fairy when she’s 40’.
She was later to become secretary of the British Legion (Yorks) Womens Section and represented them on more than one occasion at the Albert Hall and Cenotaph.
She was a long standing secretary of the Darby and Joan club arranging their holidays and outings. Her most memorable trip was on a return from the coast, the bus pulled into Stamford Bridge for light (ale) refreshments for the evening. At closing time the happy tourists came out to find heavy rain had caused deep flooding outside the pub and the party had to be rescued to get back to the bus.
Harry Wright (Junior)
More affectionately known as Flash. I first remember him as a coal humper delivering sacks of coal (half cwt) with Neville Thompson. Hard and thirsty work filling the sacks at the Savile Landsale then toting them on shoulders before aiming them into waiting coal cellars, along with coal merchant Joe Thompson. Must have been a relief to get work underground at the pit and rapidly gain promotion to master blaster (shotfirer) and finally to become Training Officer at the pit.
I don’t think there were many could deliver a story quite like him – he was a raconteur par excellence. To match that there are many stories about the man himself and I am indebted to his daughter Carole for providing much of his background.
He was born in Methley in 1922, the family living in Denison Square before moving to St Margaret’s He joined the RAF at the age of 18 where he was a rear gunner, serving in Egypt, France and Africa amongst other places. It was a period that he never really talked about However we know that his aircraft was shot down in 1942 and that he was lucky to be alive. He was posted back to the UK and after spending time in an RAF hospital he was medically discharged. After the war he was awarded the 39-45 Medal, the Africa Star and the War Medal.
Following his discharge from the RAF he went to work at Savile Pit. He later met Margaret Mellor who was serving in the ATS at Methley Hall and they were married at St Oswalds Church. Enterprising, and always involved with something especially animals the move to Victoria house at the bottom of Mill Lane with a couple of small fields adjacent was perfect for him. The family raised chickens, geese, bottle fed lambs, piglets and a calf or two. The first calf, Penny followed him like a pet but was not averse to exploration and had to be rescued by himself on numerous occasions.
The family left Mill Lane in the mid 60's when Harry bought the greengrocers shop at the top of the lane. He was also Secretary for the Miners Welfare for a number of years. His great passion was horses and he was one of the few to stable retired pit ponies along with his own ponies always a source of pleasure for the family. Over the years he broke and trained many horses, he loved a day at the races and never lost this interest or involvement through his entire life.
It was no surprise to me to learn that Annie White enjoyed her school years where she took part in school plays and other activities including singing solo in front of her peers. Surely a pointer to her outlook and later interests in adult life. .
Annie met husband to be Walter on one of his cycling jaunts, an interest in which he excelled and was able to encourage Annie to take part in the sport, opening up new vistas for them both – its reported that she claimed to be slowest uphill but always first on the downward sections. They never lost the desire to venture abroad later in life enjoying the amateur dramatic, choir, and church trips in addition to family holidays.
She took up employment in the school canteen after Walter had suffered a serious injury working underground, and it is here where I learned the art of being good mannered and polite to all school dinner ladies and in particular Mrs Carter in order to obtain bigger helpings – it did work.
Ever an active contributor to village life, Annie was a member of the cricket club ladies section helping with teas and fund raising, this, leading to becoming one of the organisers and players of the ladies XI where she turned out as stumper with huge stumpers pads and gloves. Again, I wonder if she remembered the miserable 12 year old (me) who had been dragged along with his mother to away games to watch ladies playing cricket!
Annie was also a member of the British Legion and in particular enjoyed the weekly ladies night. Her schoolgirl desire for the footlights ensured that she took part in the amateur dramatic productions, she claimed that she always got the part of the maid.
Perhaps her biggest contribution to this village was the different, often arduous roles she played over the years in support of the church. Starting with the then recently built St Margaret’s she followed her mother taking on caretakers duties which involved scrubbing the floors, cleaning the silver and brasses and laundering and ironing the vestments (including stoking up the boiler for the 9am service and following evensong). Along with this came responsibilities with the church hall for whist drives, and other village functions, in addition Annie played her part in the Mothers Union.
Annie was up to date with all matters concerning the Church, however in the early months of 1985 there was one very important subject that she knew nothing about which some of those around her were fully aware of. All was revealed when the postman delivered a letter bearing the Royal Coat of Arms inviting her to Ripon Cathedral in order to receive Maundy from her majesty the Queen. After getting over the shock and modestly deferring the award, Annie, I’m pleased to say, reverted to type asking what she should wear and what she might wear and in general completely looking forward to the whole ceremony.
Well, she did select the right outfit, she practised the curtsy and come the day (its always Thursday) she was able to take in the whole procedure along with Walter (in his new suit). Annie’s words to the Queen were “Thank you Ma’am” and she later commented on how flawless the Queen looked with sparkling eyes and a lovely smile, Annie described it all as wonderful.
Proud daughter Elaine, after the occasion stated that she did not know anyone as selfless as her mother who had served and given of herself all her life, Elaine added the her mother fulfilled all the requirements to qualify for Royal Maundy. No argument there Elaine.