Frank Berry: [Heath 1938–1942]

Frank Berry passed away at Calderdale Royal Hospital on , aged 96 years. Beloved husband of the late Mildred, dear brother of Ruth and the late Harry, much loved father of Susan and Michael and father-in-law of Peter and Elizabeth, dearest grandad of Kate and James and proud great grandad of Callie and Kezia.

A Service of Thanksgiving was held at Halifax Minster on 25th October 2023. Donations, if so desired, to The Salvation Army.

Michael Berry shares what he said at the Service of Thanksgiving:

Good afternoon

Wow, what a 96 years, where do I start!

Firstly, Sue, all the family and I would like to thank you all for attending this Service of Thanksgiving for Dad’s life. The number of you present today bears testament to the high regard in which he was held.

Thank you also for your cards and letters which touched us all deeply and made us even prouder, if that is possible, of Dad and his legacy.

The same comments were expressed time and time again: a true gentleman, considerate, caring, kind, supportive, welcoming, fun, charming, good company and an entertaining speaker. No pressure then!

This morning we said goodbye to Dad, but this afternoon we will try to say ‘Frank, Father, Dad, Grandad, thank you for the memories.’

I know that Dad would want everyone to be cheerful and rejoice that he was able to live life to the full. I also know that he was thrilled to live long enough to welcome his two great granddaughters Callie and Kezia.

I’m sure that everyone here in the Minster or watching online will have their own individual memories of Frank which will bring smiles to your faces.

All our lives, Sue and I enjoyed Dad’s love, quiet encouragement, support and wisdom, as later did son and daughter in law, Peter and Elizabeth, and beloved grandchildren, Kate and James.

As I wrote this tribute, I had an occasional lump in my throat but many more smiles as I remembered the love that he had for Mum, us — his family, and all his many friends and acquaintances.

Mum was the bedrock and absolutely central to his life. They had been married for 67 years when Mum passed away just over four years ago. They were the perfect match.

Dad was Mum’s devoted carer for the last few years of her life, thus ensuring she could remain at home.

He also gave invaluable support over many years to Mum’s sister, Sheila.

Following Mum’s death, Beechwood Lodge felt lonely and, after a few months staying with Sue & Peter during lockdown, Dad was fortunate to get an apartment at Ing Royde.

This was the perfect place for Frank who joined wholeheartedly into all the social activities which he enjoyed in a convivial environment, usually accompanied by the odd glass of wine — or two. As an accomplished bridge player, he wasn’t overly thrilled at the idea of playing Bingo, but his whole attitude changed the second week when he won £16!

Sue and I would like to thank Carol and her team at Ing Royde, together with all the residents, for the friendship, companionship and care that you extended to Frank. We are so pleased that so many of you are with us today.

So where did it all start?

Frank was born in Boothtown, the second son of Tom & Nellie. His elder brother was Harry and their younger sister is Ruth. Shortly after he was born, the family moved to Watkinson Road. Ruth sadly has not been able to travel here today but is hopefully watching online with our cousin Tony.

Dad, like Mum, started his education at Moorside School and he then moved onto Heath Grammar.

He left Heath at the age of 14 (this was 1942) after passing his school certificate and joined the family machine tool business, Binns and Berry Brothers. His first job was manually calculating and paying the weekly wages for over 100 employees. In the evenings, he attended Halifax Technical College and qualified as a Chartered Secretary.

His father Tom was involved in local politics and encouraged Dad to join Illingworth Young Conservatives where he quickly took a fancy to the Chairman — Mildred (the word Chair didn’t exist in those days) and the rest, as they say, is history.

Dad and Mum married at St Mary’s, Illingworth in February 1952. Sue arrived in October 1953 followed by me in June 1956. They lived all their married life in Illingworth finishing up at Beechwood Lodge — only a stone’s throw from Watkinson Road.

Sue and I have many happy memories of our childhood, particularly Sundays. The day started with swimming at Thornton baths, followed by Sunday school at Nursery Lane Methodist Chapel, where Dad was Treasurer.

In the afternoon, when Dad was left solely in charge of us we always went to Ogden and then managed to ransack the lounge, playing ‘trains’ on the sofa before Mum returned home from playing bridge.

Happy days.

Possibly due to his Methodist upbringing, Dad didn’t drink alcohol until he was in his mid twenties — he did subsequently try to make up for lost time !

During the post war years of our childhood, engineering was good and Dad and Harry ran Binns & Berry.

They also formed another company — Halifax Rack & Screw which they later sold — Dad always said they sold the wrong company !

Trade got tougher and they looked to exporting. They targeted the US and Dad made many visits there. Around 1960 he appointed a new agent in California.

This company, Able Machine Tools, was run by a sole trader, one Murray Wilson, who lived in LA with his wife Audrey and their three teenage sons. Murray, in three years, sold over 70 Binns & Berry lathes in California alone and was easily our best distributor worldwide.

However, he is probably better known as the father of Brian, Denis & Carl Wilson who formed the Beach Boys.

Dad once gave the boys $10 to go to Disney World so that he could take Murray and Audrey out for a meal — the only person who paid the Beach Boys to go away!!

Dad retired from full time working in the late 1980s but retained a keen interest in the business and was always on hand to give Sue and me much needed advice, often over a few glasses of Martini.

Through Binns & Berry, Dad became involved in related trade organisations and was twice President of the Halifax Engineering Employers Federation before they merged with the Yorkshire Association.

Through business and his ever increasing circle of friends he became involved with many different local organisations and charities.

He was an active member of Rotary for many years, joining initially at the same time as his great friend Derek Smith.

He served for over 20 years as a Tax Commissioner.

He volunteered for the League of Friends at the Calderdale Royal, earning his long service certificate.

Dad was a trustee and later Chair of Trustees at the Waterhouse and Mackintosh Almshouses.

He was a long standing member of the Loyal Georgean Society.

Whatever organisation he was in, he contributed fully and was always the sensible head, who could see a solution or be the one to defuse conflicts.

Nobody fell out with Dad; he was much too much of a gentleman.

I think it is fair to say that Dad was into sport and more especially the friendships that sport cultivates. Many of you here today will have got to know Frank through membership of some club or other.

His interest in sport started at a very early age and developed as he got into his teens. However, he was very modest about both his achievements and abilities. I have no such reservations.

After leaving Heath, Dad played cricket for Illingworth St Mary’s first team. He was captain of their Halifax Red Triangle Under 18 league winning teams of 1943 and 1944. A photograph of the proud captain with this trophy, 80 years on, is on the front of the order of service.

He also played rugby at Ovenden Park although never reached the dizzy heights of the Halifax first team. However, he did play for Waterloo (they were a man short and borrowed him) when they were one of the premier teams in the country. He packed down with a number of internationals. Thankfully, he survived the match although he said that he never touched the ball!

A week later he received a Waterloo club tie which he proudly wore, on so many occasions, that the first one wore out. Thankfully, we managed to acquire a replacement. He is wearing it on this photograph on the front of the order of service.

Dad will always be associated with West End Golf Club. He was a very proud member. He joined in 1941 and quickly became very keen, so much so that he dropped cricket and rugby. He was soon winning trophies and representing the club competitively.

A measure of his talent is that he won the scratch cup six times over a span of 25 years and played scratch team golf into his late fifties.

With his organisational background and general knowhow he soon got involved in the running of the club. He was captain in 1964 (that’s 60 years ago) and was made a life member in 2009.

Sport, to Dad, was about fun and fair play but primarily friendship and one of the highlights of his year was the trip to Woodall Spa which continues to this day.

A mixture of golf and friendly companionship in the bar — accompanied by a few bottles of Green Label or glasses of wine — was his ideal scenario.

Primarily through golf, he had lifelong friends who, together, took up other sports and activities including squash at Queens. Monday night at Queens was synonymous with West End as up to 20 of us played with our ages varying from 18–65!

This all started with a select group of great friends — Derek Smith, Roy Carter, Michael Wilson, David Waithman, Dad, Andrew Marshall and organiser supreme, Roger Haley.

It was rumoured that when Frank played Roy they had an ashtray in the corner of the court for their smoke breaks between games.

His second sporting home was Stafford Bowling Club. He joined in 1978 and was soon an accomplished bowler. He was elected President in 1999 and I was very proud that my year as President of Greenroyd overlapped with his term.

Frank was extremely honoured and proud to have been invited to propose the valedictory toast to Ross Woodward earlier this year. As usual he gave a most polished, humorous and memorable speech.

Despite all his sporting successes, the only trophy he displayed on his sideboard was this one. It reads F. BERRY — 80 YARDS — UNDER 12!

Bridge was one of Dad’s and Mum’s great loves. They enjoyed playing after dinner with other couples, often late into the night or early morning; we played regularly as a family and Dad played with his many friends, often after sport.

In recent years he had loved playing at Stafford on Monday and Friday afternoons and retained both his keenness and, I’m told, his ability until last month.

Dad, with Mum, was a most generous host and was happiest when in the company of his family and friends. Their entertaining was frequent, hospitable and fun, and their Boxing Day parties were legendary.

As so many have commented, Dad was always welcoming and put everyone at ease. He greeted new faces like long lost friends. He was always the first to put his hand in his pocket to buy a round of drinks.

Dad made many lasting friendships and the number of you here today bear testament to this although, sadly, many of his oldest friends have not been with us for many years.

To us, his family, he was a loving father, father in law, Grandad and great Grandad.

Dad had a wonderful life and has left lasting memories for us all. I’m certain, though, that by now he would be saying, ‘shut up Michael, enough of this baloney.’

Sue, all the family and I thank everyone for joining us here today and we look forward to sharing more memories of Dad with you at Southwood after this service.

Dad will be greatly missed by us all.

Frankly, he was the best.

Updated on .