GLOWING tributes have been paid to much-loved and respected Dewsbury man Sidney Brooke, who died in hospital recently aged 90, after a short illness.
Sidney was named after his father’s brother, Private Sidney Brooke, who was killed in action in France in 1916, but he was always known as Sid to family and friends.
Sid’s father, Arthur, and his uncle Ernest, ran a successful coal merchants and haulage company in Thornhill Lees – Brooke Brothers – which Sid ran until 1963, when it was sold to the Hanson Group.
The business was started in 1919 with 15 horses and carts, progressing until it had 30 vehicles, which in the early 1930s were motorised with steam wagons.
The family also owned two farms in Thornhill Lees – Headfield Farm and Lodge Farm – and one of their fields was used by Thornhill Lees Trinity rugby league team.
Sid grew up in Slaithwaite Road, and attended Wheelwright Boys’ Grammar School, a school he grew to love and respect.
Twenty years ago he was instrumental in reviving the school’s annual Old Boys’ dinner, of which he became the main organiser and the long-standing master of ceremonies.
He put great effort and much time into keeping alive the tradition which gave former pupils from all over the country an opportunity to keep in touch.
Some top speakers attended the dinners, most of them having been born in Dewsbury, but there were also other Yorkshire notables who accepted his invitation.
In the late 1930s and 1940s, Sid showed a real talent as a footballer, and at the age of 16 Huddersfield Town manager David Steele selected him to play in the first team.
He played in the same team as Len Shackleton, one of the best footballers of his time, but Sid could only play as an amateur because his father wouldn’t allow him to sign professional terms.
Football, however, was to remain central throughout his life and he played for and managed Yorkshire Amateurs and Ossett Albion.
Sid also loved rugby league and always remained loyal to Dewsbury, where his father had been chairman. He often told the story of his dad taking a young Dewsbury journalist called Eddie Waring to away matches.
Sid went regularly to the Challenge Cup finals at Wembley, a place where he had closer connections than most people would ever guess.
For it was the business he set up later in life which won the contract to remove and re-use the ash beneath the Wembley turf when the old Wembley Stadium was demolished and a new one built in 2000.
He was proud to show family and friends the letters of commendation he received from Wembley for a job well done.
Sid will be one man more than any other who will be most sadly missed at the Old Boys’ dinner this year.
But, no doubt, those present will be raising their glasses in his honour and there will be many glowing tributes made to the kindness he showed to so many during his life.
Sid was buried in the churchyard of Holy Innocents Church, which he had attended as a child. This had been his last wish and his two sons, Richard and David, carried it out to the letter.