By: Sue Woodbine
Fred Woodbine, former local councillor in Burngreave, has died at the age of 96. He was also on the Community Health Council and ran Pye Bank Senior Citizen’s Lunch Club for years.
His mum and dad – Jack and Ada had both been widowed in their early twenties and then married each other. His Auntie Edith would remind me over home made cake and tea that if Jack had not found temporary work, young Fred would have been in the workhouse. It’s a bit like a history lesson.
He was frugal, stubborn and determined – the ideal creative engineer. He studied at night whilst working, first as a sheet metal worker, then he taught himself to drive using mock-ups and spares. His licence cost 5 shillings. He worked for Snow’s then wangled a chauffer’s job with Henry Boot and then Constantine’s.
He married mum after attending St Matthew’s, Carver St., specially to court her. Her mum, Grandma Alice was the verger, an unusual job for a woman, which she held to her death in 1944.
At the time of his marriage – 16th May 1936 – Fred was a civilian fireman. Both families said the marriage wouldn’t last. 61 and a half years!! Romantic? Yes. Feisty? Definitely.
There were 4 children. I was born in a damp cottage on Penistone Road, which backed onto Carlisle’s steel works. I spent lots of time in hospital but remember being held up to see the steelworks fire and being nursed on a big settle with a fish tank on the window sill behind.
I went away for treatment and school so ‘pops’ built a caravan so we could holiday together. He’d make walking sticks for me and equipment to help the other children and me. You may have heard that I had cerebral palsy. No, I did not. Pops gave his free time to Oaks Park School and what is now SCOPE after he was told nothing could be done at all for children like me.
We worked out ways forward together, quietly. When I managed to get a job, after many rejections, he gave me a lift home after he finished work, for 19 months and helped me, a complete bag of nerves, to pass my Invacar driving test as soon as I was old enough.
He was doing computers at 93 and mending a Karaoke machine for his care home just before he died.
He worked at Blackburn Meadows sewage works for years. A works accident when he was 58 left him needing walking sticks.
He became a local councillor and was on the Community Health council. He ran Pye Bank Senior Citizen’s Lunch Club for years. He didn’t like being called a role model, but was touched and proud of awards for his efforts in politics and community work.
I was the one with him when he died. I’ve done easier things but think it was a gift to me. His funeral was at Grenoside and his rumbustious wake at Stocksbridge Rugby Club. He would have loved that! I’m thankful for all the nice things people have done and said.