'Inspirational' Sheffield scout leader who continued to support children after freak accident left him paralysed

An 'inspirational' former scout leader continued to do his bit for children in Sheffield after a freak cycling accident left him paralysed from the shoulders down.

Jeff Mason who friends described as an 'inspirational' individual
Jeff Mason who friends described as an 'inspirational' individual

Tributes have poured in for Jeff Mason, who died at his home in Handsworth in the early hours of Saturday, aged 72.

Friends and family told how he always remained positive and continued to play a big part in the community even after losing the use of his arms and legs following a crash 27 years ago.

One friend told how Jeff could only operate a computer by blowing down a tube but still created his own website and sent eagerly awaited newsletters to members of his local cricket club.

Jeff was group leader at Handsworth Scouts - a role he continued to fulfil for many years after his accident - a governor at St Joseph's School, in Handsworth, which he attended as a boy, and an active member of St Joseph's Catholic Church.

His condition failed to dim his love of the outdoors and he even created an online guide called Jeff's Wheelchair Walks, which listed accessible routes for other wheelchair users to explore.

Paul Phelan, who had known him since they were at primary school together, said: "Never once did he complain about his condition, and his positive attitude was an inspiration to us all.

"Whenever you were having a bad day you just had to think how Jeff would react and things would be all right."

Paul told how it was while Jeff was out delivering a letter for the scouts one Sunday that he cycled into the back of a parked car and went over his handlebars, wrecking his spine in the process.

Jeff, who never married or had any children, was lovingly cared for by his elder sister Audrey, who had to turn him twice every night to prevent him getting bed sores.

But he stayed upbeat despite his difficulties and remained a valuable member of the scouts, earning one of the movement's highest honours, the silver acorn.

Audrey said: "Jeff was the best brother you could ask for and he was an inspiration to so many people who knew him.

"He was very much a people's person and he especially liked young people because he found them so open and honest and he had a knack of interacting with them."

Jeff grew up in Darnall and attended St Joseph's School before leaving to become an apprentice at English Steel, as it was then known, aged 16.

He worked as a draughtsman for the firm before retraining as a sports teacher, only for his new career to be cut tragically short by his accident.

He was an accomplished sportsman, playing football for Scarborough Town and representing English Steel at cricket in the Yorkshire League.

Phil Streeter, vice captain of Handsworth St Joseph's Cricket Club second eleven, used to play cricket with Jeff, who continued to attend games most weekends after his injury.

"He was always smiling, never down, and he would do anything he could for you," said Phil.

Another close friend, Bill Beckett, who knew Jeff through their shared love of cricket, said: "Jeff was committed to supporting local activities, and was always a giver, never a taker.

"Even though he could only operate a computer by blowing down a tube, he would always send round an annual review, which members of the cricket club looked forward to receiving.

"He was an exceptional individual, who will be sorely missed."