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Obituary: Keith Beckett

Keith BeckettIt is with great sadness we belatedly report the passing of former Councillor - later Alderman Keith Beckett, ISO.

He was already a councillor when we began our association with Fylde around 30 years ago, and the one thing in which we could see he excelled was common sense and being close to, and caring deeply about, his local community.

He was never a man for policy or strategy. He came from the same mould as other great names of the past who were held in high regard for the help that they had given to so many people. It was the same mould that created Ron Wilson, Wilf Callon, Jack Dobson, Alf Goldberg and others.

He was an essentially down to earth practical man, without airs and graces, dealing with the real and practical problems of his constituents and the wider community of Kirkham, and they loved him for it.

We recall him speaking about flooding at a Public Inquiry when developers were planning the houses which now occupy what was then called the Kirkham Triangle - on the A583 just before the Ribby Hall roundabout. Cllr Beckett had claimed there were problems with flooding on that stretch of road (which everyone knew there was), but the highways people had said there would be no issue with flooding, so between the pre-inquiry meeting and the inquiry itself he'd been out with his video camera and filmed it, turned it into a and DVD, played it to the planning inquiry for everyone to see.

His solutions to problems were always practical, and he could speak truth to Kings and Paupers.

He was so busy speaking on behalf of others that we rarely heard him speak about himself - he was that sort of a chap - so to our shame, we didn't know a lot about his private life - but we are grateful to his family and to Cllr Liz Oades whose respective eulogy and tribute at his funeral service we now précis.

Born in a little village called Hardwick in Aylesbury in 1948, the family moved to Newton when he was 4 years old and Warton when he was 11. His childhood interests included fishing, swimming, train spotting and model making.

At Carr Hill Secondary Modern School his interest in woodwork began and on leaving school he became an apprentice Royles Joiners on Moor Street, later moving to Roy Cottom Joiners on Freckleton Street.

As a qualified tradesman he went to work on his own account for a few years before starting a 30 year association with the Joinery department of Kirkham Prison were he passed his instructor course and ended up working in the Multi Skills Workshop. He was awarded the honour of the Imperial Service Order for his services to the prison service.

Socially, he married Janet in the summer of 1969 and they loved dancing - especially the twist and Jive. They would watch Ice hockey and Blackpool FC and they also enjoyed ice skating and playing bingo.

He was a staunch supporter and Committee Member of the Workingmen's Club in Mellor Road, having been a member since he was 16 when he was going to the dances and playing snooker. Friday night 'lad's nights out' were the order of the day at that time. But later the family would go regularly on a Saturday night to listen the artist singing, and this is where his daughters Carol and Diane learned the twist, the Barn dance and the Gay Gordons.

It's also where Keith started calling bingo. He was on the Committee of the Willow's Club, ending up as Chairman and concert secretary. He called bingo every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights. He loved calling bingo and was popular amongst its aficionados. He even called bingo on his holidays in Scotland, Lanzarote and Majorca leading him to claim he was an International bingo caller. His daughter said someone has summed him up by saying Keith was the funniest bingo caller ever.

He joined Kirkham and Rural Fylde Lions and undertook many good works for charity. He could organise a charity event at the drop of his hat.

He did charity and community work for over 45 years - including bonfire nights in Wesham, barn dances, and the carnival on Club day.

His daughter Carol's eulogy also said this of him.

"Keith had many nicknames including Del Boy (because of the sheepskin coat and flat cap he used to wear) and friends called him this as we were growing up and some still call it him today, I believe some councillors called him this as well. He wanted the Trotters Independent Robin Reliant car at his funeral as this was one of his favourite TV programmes, as you may have noticed this is parked at the church gates for you Dad."

His association with the Reliant Robin began after a night at bingo where Janet won the national jackpot. That's when the new car - a Reliant Robin - arrived, along with a holiday and well deserved clearing of the mortgage.

In civic life, he was first elected to Kirkham Town Council in 1976 and became the towns youngest Mayor at the age of 33. He then stood for and was elected to Fylde Borough Council in 1983 as an Independent councillor,

He stood down from Council work in 1986 to spend more time with his young family and to concentrate on charity work with the Lions, but was persuaded to return to Civic life in 2007 when retirement approached, leaving him able to commit more time to the town.

His civic work during this period included campaigning for the by-pass, fighting to keep Kirkham Baths open, ensuring the bowling green was retained for use by the town.

Fylde Council recognised his service to the community this year, and he became Honorary Alderman Keith Beckett.

We can think of no more fitting tribute for a man with such a deep sense of community, for which he was held in the highest regard.

Bu we'll leave the final word to his colleague Cllr Liz Oades

Along with former Cllr David Armer, he helped to provide facilities for young people at the old Community Centre at Barnfield and he raised many thousands of pounds for charity, but it was as a Ward Councillor that he really excelled, helping very many people with their everyday problems.

Looking at the Kirkham and Wesham Memories’ facebook site, after his death was announced, I was delighted and moved to see so many people posting their thoughts of Keith and the many kindnesses he performed.

Keith was extremely proud to have served as the Town Mayor on three occasions, he and Janet represented the Town extremely well, they were wonderful ambassadors and were popular wherever they went.

An essayist called Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote a book called The Conduct of Life, I would like to quote just one of his observations today and it’s this

'The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate; to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.'

Keith lived well and for those of us who were fortunate enough to know him we can be thankful for his life."

Dated:  25 Jun 2019


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