- obituary,

A Tribute to the life of Ken Siddons RIP

A Tribute to the Life of

Ken Siddons RIP

1924 - 1916

Ken Siddons was born on 18th March 1924 and passed away in Milton Keynes Hospital on 22nd November 2016 after a short illness. He was aged 92.

Ken joined the Church Lads’ Brigade in 1937 as a lad of 13 at St. Luke’s, Company, Miles Platting which belonged to the 1st Battalion, the Manchester Diocesan Regiment.  Within two years he was promoted to sergeant. At the outset of the Second World War Ken was still young enough to continue Brigade work but old enough to become an Air Raid Precautions messenger but took interest in many other things, such as following the fortunes of Manchester City Football Club.  He was elated at City’s rise to the top in recent years. Above all, he held a very keen interest in a certain member of the Church Girls’ Brigade - by name of Olive.

All these activities were suspended in 1942 when at the age of 18 Ken was called up for military service in the Royal Navy. He was trained in marine engineering to become a mechanic on board Motor Torpedo Boats with Coastal Command. MTBs were powered by 4 Merlin engines, the same power plant as that of a Lancaster Bomber. He led an exciting life patrolling the British coast with occasional trips to the Channel Islands “to create a little mayhem and keep the German Garrison on its toes.”  More significantly, on 6th June 1944 Ken was in a MTB which formed part of the Fleet Protection Force during the D-Day Landings.  By the time he completed his Naval service in 1947 he had attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer.

Soon after he left the Navy, Ken married his childhood sweetheart, Olive.  They had two sons, John and Steven and then, nearly twenty years later, they adopted Ann and then Susan.  Sadly Olive passed away in 2006 and two years ago Ken had to cope with the sudden death of his elder son, John, which he bore with pragmatic fortitude. 

During the war many Brigade companies were temporarily disbanded due to their leaders being called up for military service and St.Luke’s company was no exception. However, when Ken and his brother-in-law, a Mr A Dodd, were demobbed they wasted no time in reforming the company. Ken eventually took over as CO of the St Luke’s Company in 1950 and supported by Olive he remained there for the next fourteen years until Major Ernie Worthington, recognising his administrative skills, invited Ken to join the 1st Battalion Staff as Adjutant.

During the early 1960’s, large areas of inner-city Manchester were demolished to make way for new housing stock. The developers were blamed for tearing whole communities apart. Certainly, as a direct result of this redevelopment, many Brigade units were forced to close and the powers that be decided that it made sense for the Manchester Regiment of the Brigade to reorganise from 9 small battalions into 3 large battalions.  It was at this point that Ken, already a highly respected officer in the 1st Battalion, was promoted to Lt. Colonel and appointed to command the newly formed Central (Cathedral) Battalion which boasted 33 units.

As the ‘sixties unfolded, and spurred on by the new enthusiasm for extension inspired by the late Ken Mathers, the National Director of Training, the Battalion grew in strength to nearly forty companies.  Obviously this was becoming too much to manage and eventually the Battalion was split up - but for a while Ken headed the largest Battalion in the country.

From the dark days of Manchester’s re-development Ken led the Central Battalion into an exciting decade in its own development. Battalion meetings were lively to say the least but a full programme of activities was enjoyed by all. Ken was immensely proud to lead this enormous battalion on the Annual Parades to Manchester Cathedral and to the famous Belle Vue Review which was still being held annually in the Speedway Stadium.  Ken was a keen supporter and encourager of the Battalion’s activity in National Sports and Band Competitions as well as the fledgling Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme. He placed great emphasis on officer training and over forty years later the present Battalion is still benefiting from the legacy of that training. 

Ken was particularly proud of his Central Battalion Band under the leadership of Tony Wilkinson.  I recall him speaking of one memorable occasion when, at the request of Major Sir Hamish Forbes (Brigade General Secretary at the time and a WW2 hero in his own right) the Band played for the assembled Bishops of the Anglican Communion in the Inigo Jones Banqueting Hall on Whitehall.  Just prior to the engagement the band of nearly fifty members ‘fell-in’ on Horse Guards Parade and marched along Whitehall to the Inigo Hall - receiving a Household Cavalry salute as they left Horse Guards.  After the performance in the Hall, the Band marched (as Ken himself described) “playing in full glory” along Whitehall, around Trafalgar Square to St.Martin-in-the-Fields for an Evening Service – and this on a SATURDAY evening in London.  Ken said “Major Forbes and I were so very proud of that Band.”

Ken was always on the lookout for activities that might bring the battalion together.  He was one of the instigators of “Showtime 73” which was a memorable show rehearsed for six months and put on by members the Central Battalion for six continuous days to full houses at the Lesser Trade Hall Manchester.  Although an excellent bass singer and an accomplished pianist himself, Ken wasn’t in the show but he became familiar with many of the sketches and I know he was playing and singing the choruses at his home for many years well into his retirement.   Showtime ‘73 is still fondly remembered by those who took part but unfortunately, key members including Ken, left the area soon afterwards and the show was never repeated. (When Ken’s death was announced, one colleague recalls “On one of his visits to our company, he played Beatles tunes on the old piano in our Church Hall to entertain us all”).

Away from the Brigade, Ken began his working career with Chester’s brewery company where he studied to gain qualifications in the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators.  His studies were eventually rewarded when he was appointed Company Secretary of Threfalls and Duttons brewery in Blackburn. Following a takeover, this became the Blackburn Division of the Whitbread Brewery Company. He eventually became a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries. His talents were obviously recognised as he was soon promoted in the mid 1970s to Assistant Company Secretary at Whitbread’s Chriswell Street Headquarters in London. Unfortunately, that move effectively ended his Church Lads’ Brigade career.

Ken moved home, accompanied by his wife Olive and younger children Ann and Sue, to the village of Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, from where he began commuting to Euston on a daily basis.  Being of strong Christian Faith since childhood, Ken and Olive were soon participating fully in St Michaels Church where Ken was thrilled to discover that it had once boasted a Church Lads’ Brigade Company - albeit many years ago.  Ken also became involved in other aspects of village life including serving with the Royal British Legion, as Parish Councillor, on the Village Hall Committee, founding the Stewkley Singers, and instigating local Band Concerts. Having made some great friends, Ken and Olive were happy living at Stewkley and after Ken’s retirement they remained living there for the rest of their lives.  Even in retirement Ken kept in touch with Whitbreads through its Pensioner Visitor Scheme.  There is no doubt he gave great comfort to a large number of company pensioners and he will be remembered for that.

It was well into his retirement on a rare visit to his home, that Ken revealed to me that back in the 1970s, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London for Services to Youth - and to the Church Lads’ Brigade in particular.  Such was the modesty of the man. Nobody ever saw him parading his sheep through the City but rumour has it that he had a great stock of woolly jumpers!!!

Although Ken had retired from active Brigade service in the mid 1970s he kept in contact with the movement by becoming a Life member of the Brigade Association. During this time he continued to attend various Brigade events if they were within reasonable travelling distance. On one such occasion he was present for the Opening of the Church Lads’ & Church Girls’ Brigade Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield.  He was thrilled that such a Memorial Garden had been created, and in his memory, a Poppy Cross bearing his name, has already been placed on the central plinth.  Ken’s name will be added to the Roll of Remembrance and read out at the Brigade’s next Annual Remembrance Service.

Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Steven, Ann, Sue and the grandchildren.

Maynard Scott Former Deputy Governor

December 2016

Bill Holmes RIP

It is with great sadness that we advise that Bill Holmes passed away in his sleep on Sunday 1st September.  

Bill's funeral will take place on Thursday 12th September at 11:30am at St Peter's, Wolviston near Billingham.  All Brigade friends are welcome to celebrate Bill's life with his friends and family.

Andrew Hayday, Regimental Commander from Durham paid tribute saying "Bill was a true gentleman, a stallwart of the Brigade and will be greatly missed by family, friends and everyone who knew him".


Darren Rodgers RIP

Tragedy at Euro 2016 Football Finals

It is with great sadness that I report to you that Darren Rodgers, the young football supporter from Northern Ireland who died in France, was a long time, enthusiastic member of our Brigade. Darren joined the Church Lads’ Brigade in St Patrick’s, Ballymena, as a Martin and made his way through the Y Team, the JTC and Seniors. He represented the Ballymena CLB Company at the Brigade’s National 5 A Side Football Championships in England on a number of occasions. In more recent years, Darren assisted Company Captain, Alan Ross, as a leader in the Company.

Please keep Darren’s family in your thoughts and prayers as they try to deal with the sudden loss of their only son.

David Harris R.I.P

We are very sorry to inform you that our colleague David Harris passed away in hospital around 5am this morning (17th November 2015).   

David was apparently in contact with asbestos in his early career but it seemed no medical problems arose until earlier this year.  Consequently he underwent a major lung operation.  He returned to hospital a few days ago feeling unwell and is thought to have been undergoing further treatment relating to this condition when he passed away this morning.

David gave a lifetime of service to the Brigade and for a good number of years was employed by NHQ as Assistant General Secretary. Whilst holding this role he supported three General Secretaries of the Brigade. Maynard Scott's  earliest memory of David was as a fully fit young man on the Brigade’s original Expedition to Iona in 1968 swimming in the sea off the Machair (Iona’s sandy beech).  In contrast, my final memory of him will be just nine days ago when attended the Brigade Annual Remembrance Service at the National Memorial Arboretum.  David did not realise until the last minute that he had a speaking part in the outdoor ceremony in the Brigade Memorial Garden but despite his obvious frailty he will be remembered for the determined and strong voice he projected when reading the Kohima Epitaph.  David’s own name will be read out from the Roll of Remembrance at next year’s service.

This is a double tragedy for the family because David’s sister, Gillian Smith, also a stalwart Brigade officer, died unexpectedly as recently as 1st September.  Our prayers go out to the family at this difficult time.

Gillian Smith R.I.P

It is sad to announce that Gillian Smith a former Officer at St Michael's & All Angels Alvaston Derby. Gillian sadly passed away on 1st September 2015 at 11:15pm unexpectedly following a short illness.  Gillian's funeral will take place Tuesday 22nd September 2015 St Michael's and All Angels Church, Alvaston, Derby at 11am. For directions please click this link (this will take you outside of the CLCGB website and onto Google Maps).  Gillian's husband Jack would particularly like members who where in the Brigade Choir to know about Gillian, as she always loved it. The CLCGB would like to pass on all our condolences to Gillian's family and friends at this sad time.

Granville Higson RIP

It is with much sadness to announce the news of Granville Higson's passing, Granville died peacefully at home.  Granville served the brigade for many years and in many roles both in the 1st Chester Battalion and elsewhere.  As soon as the funeral details are released we will post them online.  All our thoughts and prayers are with Granville's family and friends at this sad time.


Jim Ward R.I.P

It is sad to announce that Jim Ward an Officer at St Thomas Crumpsall has sadly passed away following a short illness.  

Jim’s Funeral will take place Friday 8th January 2016 at Harpurhey Community Church, (Carrisbrook Street, Harpurhey, Manchester M9 5UX) at 11am, then onwards to Blackley Crematorium (Victoria Avenue, Blackley, Manchester M9 8JP) for 12.30pm and then on to Blackley Golf Club just a few minutes up the road (Victoria Avenue East, M9 7HW) for 1.15pm or so.

Jim’s family would particularly like Members, Officers and Friends to join them for both Funeral service and later at the Golf Club. An indication of numbers attending would be appreciated please contact the CLCGB Office.

The Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade would like to pass on all our condolences to Jim’s family and friends at this sad time.

Jim's son James has written the following about his Dad.

Big Brigade Jim was the name my dad, Jim Ward, chose for his email address. It suited him perfectly. But he’d been in The Church Lads’ Brigade long before computers came into our homes. He joined in 1949, aged 14 and he never left. All my life, there’s barely been a Thursday night that he hasn’t headed out with that big bunch of keys to open up the Brigade. I couldn’t begin to guess the amount of men (and recently, young ladies) that have been taught the Brigade motto by my dad. When he walked round his area, Harpurhey, many a bloke would call out, “Hello, Sir.”

Harpurhey isn’t without its problems and my dad had to park his car several streets away to keep it safe. But nothing would stop him opening up that Brigade. And when that church could no longer host his Brigade nights, he found another Brigade nearby and ran that one. He was already 70 or thereabouts. But on he went. He was still opening up the Brigade less than a month before his 80th birthday.

He passed away peacefully just two weeks after his birthday following a short and pain-free illness. Some of his last words were about the Brigade. And how it might continue.

Bugles, belts and caps filled our house. He cherished his Brigade car badge, the type that would adorn the front bumpers of olden day vehicles. He’d fixed it inside his rear window. He had many hobbies too. His pottery and art, his photography and his films. But the Brigade was his foremost joy. For 67 years, give or take, it made a cheerful chap happier still. My thanks to The Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade for that.

He’ll be a much-missed brother and uncle, grandad and father.

John Alan Sankey RIP

It is with a sad heart we have to announce that John Alan Sankey an officer from Charnwood Battalion within the Leicester Regiment; sadly passed away Friday 16th March at Leicester Glenfield Hospital.

Alan recently had to give up being a company officer at St. David's Broom Leys due the progression of his illness "idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis".

Alan was a great role model to the members of the company and beyond.

The messages of condolences that have been received by Ann are from current members, ex-members and parents.

Alan's Thanksgiving Service will be held on Thursday 12th April 5pm at St Davids Church LE67 4RL followed by refreshments in the Church hall.

No black and wear TEAL if possible.

There is a private family cremation on Wednesday 28th March and Alan's ashes will be interned in our Church garden of remembrance following the service in April.

Only family flowers but there will opportunity to donate in leiu if you wish.


Kevin Charles Mitchell RIP

We are sad to announce that Kevin Charles Mitchell a former Officer from All Soles Islesworth, sadly passed away on the 2nd December 2015.

Kevin’s Funeral will take place at 2pm on Friday 8th January 2016 at Hanworth Crematorium Middlesex.

Kevin’s family would particularly appreciate any current or ex members to attend the service and if possible a drum or bugle to be played as a mark or respect, and in memory of Kevin’s service to the Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade.

If anyone could attend the service and play either instrument please let NHQ know via or telephone 01709 876535 and leave a message.

The Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade would like to pass on all our condolences to Kevin’s family and friends at this sad time.

Major William G. Tilley Obituary

It is with deep sadness I share with you the news that Major William G. Tilley, Newfoundland Brigade Archivist, passed away last Friday. He reached the wonderful age of 103 years and had joined the CLB in 1926. Last year was awarded his 90-Year Gold Service Award and two months ago took part in the 125th Anniversary parade. He was the longest serving CLB member in the world and an inspiration to many generations. During his lengthy life, he receive many awards and accolades, amongst which was Honourary membership of the CLCGB Historical Group. The last honour he received was the Brigade Cross from the Governor in recognition of his "outstanding service to the CLB for over ninety years and for fostering Anglo-Canadian relationships with the CLCGB"

On behalf of all members of the CLCGB, we extend our sincere deepest sympathy to his sons Wayne, Gary and Glen and their families.

It was a privilege to know Maj William G. Tilley and I'm a better person for doing so. He led many to Fight the Good Fight. RIP

Terry Hissey

Obituary - Ossie Watson RIP

It is with sad news to announce the passing of Ossie Watson an ex St.Saviours Helper and Liverpool Battalion CO. Ossie passed away on Saturday 27th June. The funeral will take place on 13th July 11am at St. Saviours Church Oxton.

Obituary Helen Pearce RIP

It is with sad news to announce the passing of Helen Pearce.

Helen was a member of Wombwell St Mary's Church Girls' Brigade in the early 1960s. I cannot say which year she joined as Jean was in College at Durham, and I had just finished my National Service in the RAF in 1962 and rejoined the CLB looking after the J.T.C., but it was possibly in 1961 or 1962. We do know that her first camp was the1964 camp at Margate because Jean took the girls and I took the lads. 

Helen Pictured kneeling in the centre from a trip to the Isle of Wight..

Tom Warbuton RIP

It is with deepest sympathy that we announce the passing of Tom Warbuton.  Our sincere condolences go to the family of Tom who sadly Passed away on 5th January 2017.

Tom was from St Laurences Chorley CLB in Chorley.

The funeral will be held at Plessington Crematorium on Tuesday 17th January at 3pm and everyone is welcome.

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