Maghull – Alan Charnock RIP

Having read in this week’s edition of the Aintree & Maghull Champion that Alan Charnock had passed away my thoughts went back to 2012 when I nominated him for Maghull’s Civic Award. Here’s the nomination detail:-

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Nomination of Mr Alan R Charnock for Maghull’s Civic Award

Alan has been involved in helping to run Maghull & Lydiate Homewatch for many years and has been its Chairman/Leader/Coordinator for a long time. He cares about our community and always tries his best to help and support it.

If the Council chooses to honour Alan with its Civic Award it will also be saying a big thank you to the many volunteers who have worked alongside Alan over many years to try to make our community safer and raise awareness of the things that householders can do to make their homes more secure. Presently there are 4,618 households that are members of Homewatch across Maghull & Lydiate; a significant proportion of our local community.

Homewatch is a vital part in making Maghull a pleasant community where people want to come alive and we can be rightly proud of the work of our local group.

Under Alan’s Chairmanship Maghull & Lydiate Homewatch has thrived and unlike many other similar groups operating under Homewatch/Neighbourhood Watch banner they have consistently and regularly delivered Homewatch newsletters to as many local properties as they can year in year out.

Alan has often approached councillors for help and advice or sometimes funding to assist with a Homewatch project such as Smartwater protection for the homes of elderly residents.

By the time the Civic Award Committee meets to decide on this year’s award Alan will have retired as our Homewatch Chairman at his Association’s October AGM.

But Alan has been involved in other community issues as well. His long term friend John Johnson (himself a local C of E lay preacher, Scout Master and volunteer for Sefton based charity Autism Initiatives) tells me that:-

* Alan has previously fund raised for Guide Dogs for Blind in Maghull by organising raffles, sponsored walks etc. with at least 8 guide dogs being handed over. The former Everest Pub displayed photo’s of Alan’s endeavours for this charity.

* Alan successfully worked to try to resolve problems with the A59 underpass.

* Alan is a life Governor of the RNLI

I think that to present him with Maghull’s Civic Award in his retiring year from Homewatch would be a fitting tribute to someone who really does fit into the ‘Mr Maghull’ category for his hard work and dedication to our community.

Cllr. Tony Robertson
1st October 2012

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History tells us that Alan did indeed win the Civic Award that year and his name is on the honours board in the Council Chamber of Maghull Town Hall.

I also recall Alan, as does Keith Page, from his Friday evening visits with a group of friends to the Derby Arms Pub where we often had a laugh and a joke with him about many things. And talking of pubs Alan would regularly have a meal at the Stanley Arms and I know how the staff there looked after him especially in his latter years when he was far from well.

RIP Alan, ‘a quiet guy who just got on with what he had to do and was respected in the community’ to quote his friend John Johnson who gave me background information in 2012 that I included in the Civic Award nomination.

A great send off for Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker

Only six days after the funeral of former Maghull and Sefton Councillor Jim Byrne we had another one this time for Charles ‘Uncle Albert’ Walker, also a former Maghull Town Councillor, today.

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This was my personal tribute to Charles which his family asked me to contribute to his funeral service.

Uncle Albert

I first met Uncle Albert, then known of course as Charles Walker, when he was in his early 70’s.

He came over as a really nice chap but little did I know how our friendship would develop over the next 20+ years and that he would become a very close chum indeed.

I give you a handful of personal insights into Uncle Albert

Singing RAF songs! – It happened out of the blue during a car journey from Maghull to the Littleborough & Saddleworth Parliamentary by-election where Uncle Albert, Andrew Beattie Andrew Blackburn and myself were off to deliver leaflets. The nice gentleman sharing the back seat of the car with one of the Andrews just started to sing what I will call a risqué song of the kind those acquainted with rugby songs would understand. We knew then that we had a right one with us!

Fire watching on top of George Henry Lees during the Liverpool Blitz – Yes Charles did that and he saw incendiary bombs hitting the city all around him. One night he was at his lofty dangerous post and saw the incendiary fall and hit St Luke’s Church. Yet when he told us about it he seemed to have no comprehension of the extreme danger he had been in. To him it was his job as an employee of George Henry Lees to try to put out any fires. A brave man indeed.

Pitch and Put – He had played on the pitch and put course at Harrison Drive, New Brighton many times, especially before the war, and it showed. Neither of the Andrews nor I could beat him despite around a dozen attempts to do so on our days out with Uncle Albert around this childhood stamping ground of The Wirral.

East Lancashire Railway – Uncle Albert went with us to this persevered railway a number of times over the years and he loved it. What with steam locomotives, old fashioned carriages and travelling on them with his mates. But what he seemed to like best was the buffet facility on Bury Bolton Street Station where he would climb into an all day breakfast whilst watching steam trains pass by.

Mushroom Omelettes? – By now uncle Albert had been ‘adopted’ by both the Robertson and Blackburn families and Sheila Robertson wanted to take Charles (she always called him Charles) out for a meal. And what a hit it was as he loved the mushroom omelettes at the Stanley Arms in Aughton. Unsurprisingly Sheila kept taking him back there and he kept enjoying them.

Other visits – we took Charles to the RAF Cosford museum a couple of times, to Crich Tramway Museum, to Birkenhead Tramway Preservation Society and to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington. He loved these trips out and was great company. At Elvington we turned around and he had disappeared only to be found later deep in conversation with another elderly ex-RAF chap talking about their life and times in the Royal Air Force. In Birkenhead he rode a Wallasey tram like those that ran in his youth and he was delighted.

And what of his times as a Maghull Town Councillor? Japanese Knotweed was one of his big campaigns. Trouble is it is still there in Foxhouse Lane despite him hounding Network Rail to eradicate it.

The potholed surface of Maghull Station car park was another, thankfully it’s now in good nick.

And what about Mrs Bradley’s Passage? It’s a short footpath that joins Poverty Lane and Summerhill Drive and was a littered and potholed mess at the time. Mrs Bradley lived next to it and she asked Charles to get Sefton Council to tidy it up regularly. In turn he gave Sefton Council grief to the extent that even the dead hand of a local authority could take it no longer and they tidied it up. But he was not satisfied and said only recently that the beggars had still not resurfaced it as they promised him they would do some 8 or 9 years ago!

He was Vice Chair of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee for quite a number of years. Sheila Nelson chaired the committee and he enjoyed working with her. We used to joke with him that Sheila kept him in line. I think he looked upon her as his Station Commander!

To the two Andrews and I he was Uncle Albert (after the Only Fools & Horses character of course) to many others he was Charles. To the ladies he was a lovely old gentleman; to us he was a cheeky chap who was one of the boys. He may have been 35+ years older than us but he was our mate and we will miss him terribly.