Heath Old Boys Association


Obituaries


Kenneth Gifford McGill: [Heath 1938–1944]

Kenneth Gifford was born on to Thomas Douglas and Mary McGill. He was their second son of four — Doug, Ken, Neville and Ray.

From the beginning he was a fine sportsman. This became apparent at junior school when he regularly swept the board at the Annual Swimming Gala, being an excellent swimmer and a diver without fear. During his teens at Heath School in Halifax he also excelled at cricket and football and in 1944 he was a Yorkshire schoolboy finalist at rugby union.

Leaving Heath he joined the Fleet Air Arm serving in the Arctic Circle on HMS Vengeance for some time. In 1945 he was thrilled to be chosen to go to Pensicola in the United States to do his Pilot’s training. The war ended a little too soon for him to achieve his ambition as a few weeks before he was due to start training Peace was declared and the course was cancelled. This remained a big regret throughout his life. However in 1946 he was chosen to play soccer for The Royal Navy.

On demobilisation he returned to Huddersfield and went into one of his father’s business.

He married Julienne Russell in 1955. Fiona was born in 1958 followed by Holly in 1961 and Katie in 1962. The family were brought up at The Howroyde, in Barkisland.

In the fifties Ken joined Proctor and Gamble. This American soap producer ran a tight ship and it was whilst with them that Ken learnt the importance of self-motivation — a lesson which would last him for the rest of his life. Mesmerised by large machinery he later went to Chaseside who manufactured loading shovels. Construction industry equipment was his life until retirement.

All this time there was the sport! He played cricket in the summer with the Almondbury Casuals and represented Woodsome Hall Golf Club in their inter club matches playing to a handicap of two at his peak. The Huddersfield AFC was one of the great loves of his life and he turned out weekly to play with, and often captain, the first team at home, or travelled to Shrewsbury School, Repton, The Chester Nomads, Manchester Trojans and the legendary Liverpool Ramblers where the Easter Festival was an annual event.

He always found time for rally driving — another obsession — and regularly won the obstacle course race in his open MG TA sports car BTF 72 — a number well known to Inspector Reg Foster who regularly handed out speeding tickets to Ken.

Since his retirement his greatest pleasure has been visiting his daughters and his two grandchildren, Edward and Abigail.