Letter: Alfred’s life should be acknowledged

This letter sent to the Star was written by Mike Dodgson, Marchwood, S6

Friday, 25th October 2019, 8:02 am
Updated Monday, 28th October 2019, 7:05 am
Alfred, sister Jean with parents at Roe Wood Cottage after leaving Raisen Hall Farm, Herries Road, around 1940-42
Alfred, sister Jean with parents at Roe Wood Cottage after leaving Raisen Hall Farm, Herries Road, around 1940-42

Many Star readers may still well remember the article by Julia Armstrong, Saturday, February 1, 2014, "Family life down on the farm in seven fields of Longley", that so effectively conveyed my own personal memories.

As reported, the Helliwell family farmed most of the seven fields at Longley before and during the construction of new housing estates.

Supported by his brother and family at Cote Green Farm, Wortley, Alfred's father (Arnold) plus his mother, sister Jean and Alf himself, delivered fresh milk and farm produce to many households in the districts of Longley, Southey Green, Parson Cross, Norwood, Shirecliffe, Crabtree, Pitsmoor and Firth Park. For many years milk was delivered 365 days a year including fresh poultry and dairy products on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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The Helliwells were kind and very understanding of those less fortunate in life. For example, as a 'milk lad' in my early teens, I would regularly catch up with Mr Helliwell as he delivered milk to our house on the Norwood Estate. Many times I discovered that he had also left one or two free cracked eggs that had mysteriously been damaged since I last attended the milk van.

Alfred lived most of his childhood at Raisen Hall Farm by Herries Road. He would often play with friends around the farmhouse and farmyard on the site that now holds the post office, chippy and Tesco supermarket.

As preparations for the Forum cinema house commenced, the Helliwell's moved to Roe Wood Cottage off Norwood Road in 1940.

Alfred like his sister Jean never married (or partnered). Both lived and worked together all their lives. A few years after Jean died, and just four days after the seven field article6 Alfred Helliwell died aged 87 in the Northern General Hospital after a short illness.

Like all his family before him, Alf's life was celebrated at the Grenoside crematorium. However, to date, at Grenoside there is still no acknowledgement of Alfred's life. Jean's half inscribed plaque hangs alongside her parents. Attempts to rectify this sad situation have proved unsuccessful at the Grenoside office. Being given the honour to have presented the eulogy does not give me any rights or power to enact any changes or to even establish any details as to what happened to Alfred's ashes.

I still refuse to accept that such an injustice could have been by family request, more likely thoughtfulness despite the many benefits that Alf and his family presented in life and death.

Any forthcoming constructive advice would be appreciated.