Thank you for the letters

IT is helpful when people go to the trouble to write to me following an article to share their memories of the people I’ve written about.

Friday, 11th February 2011, 8:00 am

Sometimes they give me enough information for another article, at other times just a brief thank you to affirm what I’ve written about.

All are extremely welcome, especially those which include a photograph, and although I cannot always acknowledge them straight away, I do eventually.

Recently I wrote about the history of St John’s Church, Dewsbury Moor, and mentioned the Rev P M Berry who was vicar there in the late 1950s.

I have since received the following letter from Mr John Fox recalling his memories of the church and the Reverend Berry.

John writes: “Congratulations on your article on St John’s Church which I really enjoyed and which brought back happy memories.

“I spent a number of years attending St John’s and became involved in the choir, Sunday School, youth group and was an altar server and bell ringer.

“In those days much of your life revolved around the church and its activities’

“The Rev Philip Melville Berry, who died in, I think, 1963, was a marvellous vicar and a lovely man.

“I still have some letters he wrote to me following my Confirmation, and also after I helped out with church activities.

“He was not in good health when he came to St John’s after working in Wetherby Borstal, where the church drama rroup once returned with him to perform a play.

“In those days many old age pensioners didn’t have gas or electric fires, so he would be up at 5.30am to go round lighting fires for them.

“He did some teaching at Victoria Central School, and at lunchtime would go out visiting, quite often turning up out of the blue.

“It was on a day trip he organised to the Yorkshire Dales which first introduced me to the delights of the Dales, an area I still love today. He was sadly missed.

Thank you for bringing back so many happy memories.”

DEWSBURY it seems has been blessed with many excellent clergymen and women, teachers and nuns, who had a great impact on the lives of local people.

One of them was the late Sister Dolorosa who I recently wrote, and once again I received a letter about the great work she did while in Dewsbury.

The letter came from Carole Best, who wrote about living at West Haven Hostel for Girls which was run by Sister Dolorosa, Sister Francis and Sister Mary Rose.

Carole writes: “Thank you for the lovely report on Sister Dolorsa which was very interesting and described Sister Dolorosa perfectly.

“I was sent to live with the nuns for a couple of years, which were the happiest days of my life.

“I was the youngest girl in West Haven, and so had to attend the girls school at the back of West Haven.

“Sister Dolorosa made each and every one of us girls feel loved, wanted and special.

“We could talk to her about anything and knew she would understand, help us with problems big or small and guide us in the right direction.

“One funny story that makes everyone smile to this day happened one lunchtime when I was going back to West Haven for my lunch.

“Some workmen were outside and one of them wolf-whistled me. I was so embarrassed and said: ‘I’m going to tell my mum, she’s a nun you know’.

“They just laughed – until the door was opened by a nun, and then their jaws dropped.

“Throughout the years I kept in touch with Sister “Dolly” Dolorosa, and sent her cards every year for Mother’s Day because she felt like my mum.

“When I heard of her passing, my world was turned upside down, a piece of my heart was shattered, it will never mend.

“I went to her funeral in Blackpool where I met Sister Francis who was clearly as devastated as me. The service was beautiful just like “my mum”

“I, and many, many other people, will never forget Sister Dolorosa. She will be with me forever. I know she will be looking over me and that makes me very happy.

“Heaven will be a prettier place now Sister Dolorosa is there. A beautiful angel.

“Thank you, Margaret for your report.”

ANOTHER letter I received recently came from Mr Ken Dove who used to live in Ravensthorpe but now lives in a little village near Cumbria.

Ken sent me the photograph which appears on this page and I’m sure it will bring back memories for those who attended Ravensthorpe Modern School.

Ken started there in 1960 and left in 1964 at the age of 15 to go work for a timber merchant and later became a joiner.

“I lived in Myrtle Road in the same street where the school was. I used to sit in the house until I heard the school bell, and then I’d go straight into school.

“Living near the school was all right, but if you were late you had no excuse and got into trouble.”

Ken recalls the four years he spent at the school as happy ones and he still recalls the good friends he made.

“I suppose it was what you would call a middle of the road school,” he said. “The lads who later became colliers, joiners and plumbers went to the school, and the rest went to Grammar School.

“But the school did prepare us for life. The boys were taught woodwork and the girls cookery and dressmaking.

“They were happy days. Nobody complained in those days, and we had some good teachers.”

• Please keep your letters coming, and include your phone number or email address.