Jim Sharpe – The man in the red felt hat – RIP old friend

I attended Jim’s funeral today at Thornton Crematorium to help celebrate the life of a well known and much liked local journalist, dog lover, bus enthusiast and owner of his pride and joy the wooden boat Manxman. There was a lovey eulogy by his friend Nigel Hughes and a great railway poem reading by Danielle Thompson a fellow Champion reporter. What’s more the Celebrant was also a friend of Jim, my fellow Lydiate Parish Councillor Neil Spencer. And to cap it all the Mayor of Sefton Cllr. June Burns attended too. Although only 10 of us were at the ceremony, due to the present health crisis and the restrictions flowing from it, I think we gave Jim a send off which would have approved of.

This is the cover of the order of service, one of the best of its kind I have ever seen – by Nigel Hughes.

This was my contribution to the celebration:-

Hello Jim, Tony here, you know that bit of a leftie whom you debated politics, railways and life in general with as our frustrations required of us both.

I got to know you around 1990 I guess, so we must have spent 30 years or so putting the world to rights or is that lefts?

You know we got along as we were able to laugh at ourselves; nothing worse than taking yourself too seriously. I had my trains which you had more than a passing interest in and you had your buses which I tried to catch now and again.

I recall you sitting through Maghull Town Council meetings with a face which gave away your thoughts at times, yet you became not just a journalist sat on the shoulders of local decision makers but a friend too. Unafraid to speak your mind, to add an opinion, but also someone who just wanted councillors to do right by his home town. That’s why the Town Council presented you with a Maghull tie which you wore for years as a proud Maghullian of birth.

Now Jim about that felt hat! Yes I’ve found out about it via Jeanette Smith who says ‘I worked with Jim on the Crosby Herald in the late 60s early 70s. I remember him always turning up for work in a red felt hat, quite outrageous for a serious, sensible journalist. But he got away with it such was his quirky character. RIP Jim’

I appreciated your advice Jim as my political career developed and when it became apparent that I may become Leader of Sefton Council you were encouraging and supportive despite our political differences. During those 7 years we continued to chat on a weekly basis just as we had done during my time as a parish councillor. You were the journalist who knew me inside out.

In recent times we have spoken less yet every few weeks we’d still strike up a phone conversation of some length where we’d slip back into our old ways.

I’ll miss you proud Captain Jim of the Norfolk Broads boat Manxman, one unique man and his 4 legged friends. We shall not see the like of Jim again…………

If you’d like to read more about Jim my obituary article on Jim’s passing is available via this link:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/01/jim-sharpe-rip/

Jim Sharpe RIP

My friend Jim Sharpe has sadly passed away in Aintree Hospital after a short illness unconnected with our present health crisis.

Jim will be known to many people across Sefton & West Lancashire for his ‘One Man and His Dog’ column in the Champion Newspaper.

I am not aware of many pictures of Jim as he was always stood beside the press photographer (usually Marin Snape who sadly passed on himself not so long ago) but here he is in 2014 caught on camera press notebook in hand with Cllr. Edie Pope of Lydiate Parish Council.

I blogged about Jim back in 2017 in a posting associated with him being interviewed by Maghull Radio. Here’s a link to it:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/10/20/maghull-an-unexpected-contributor-to-a-maghull-radio-show-about-local-journalist-jim-sharpe/

Looking back on that 2017 posting it seems to say pretty much it all about Jim as I knew him but here are a couple of addition anecdotes. Jim’s politics were very much of the right and mine are very much of the left and yet I recall him being delighted when I became leader of Sefton Council; I knew his congratulations were genuine and I very much appreciated them. Jim and I would still chat from time to time in recent years indeed he phoned me about a month ago saying he was bored and wanted to a chat with me. We talked for half an hour or so about politics, life, the lockdown, his boat* on the Norfolk Broads and former councillors & other community minded folk we had known over the years.

He also kept in touch with former councillors Andrew Blackburn and Dave (Mr Lydiate) Russell. Jim would dine with Dave & Pam Russell at their house from time to time.

I know that his neighbour’s had been doing his shopping for him during the lockdown and he’d told me how much he appreciated that help when we last spoke.

As I said in my 2017 posting Jim was a journalist of the old school. At his best he was the people’s eyes and ears on the shoulders of those in power on the council locally. But he also liked good news stories about his home town of Maghull which he’d lived in for the vast majority of his life apart from a few years in and around the Colchester area working in public relations for British Telecom.

I will miss Jim because he was a decent chap, a good journalist and he cared deeply for Maghull the town I lived in for 43 years. RIP Jim

* Jim told me some years ago that he was going to leave his boat ‘Manxman’ to the YMCA in Birkenhead because they’d done so much for him.

PS – My good friend Andrew Blackburn has dug out this photo of a Maghull Mayoral charity fundraising walk in 1994 and Jim is there with us with his dog of that time too. It was taken outside the Running Horses Pub in Lydiate – Thanks Andrew