Tributes paid to ‘witty’ former Ilkley Parish Council chairman

Wharfedale Observer: ‘Sadly missed’, former chairman of Ilkley Parish Council, Alec Goodall Henderson ‘Sadly missed’, former chairman of Ilkley Parish Council, Alec Goodall Henderson

Former chairman of Ilkley Parish Council Alec Goodall Henderson, 86, passed away peacefully in Airedale Hospital on January 29, after a long period of decline.

He is sadly missed by his widow Muriel, and his son Ian, and many other family members.

The funeral service was held at St Peter’s Church, Addingham on Friday, February 7, conducted by Rev Paul Summers, followed by communal lunch in the church hall.

Mr Henderson was born on December 8, 1927, in Shotts, central Scotland. When his family moved to Portobello, he became a top-performing student at the Grammar School in nearby Edinburgh, excelling in languages and all other subjects.

He especially enjoyed swimming and being in the Boys Brigade where he became a sergeant. When he left school he was enrolled in the Intelligence Corps, MI8, where he learned armed and unarmed combat.

His successful Army career was cut short due to illness, and he subsequently trained as a tax inspector. When he was appointed district inspector of taxes in charge of the business area of Leeds, he moved to Ben Rhydding.

On retirement, he wanted to serve the community, and joined the local Conservative party. He was highly respected and very popular in this role, but also very effective, and was elected as Chairman of Ilkley Urban District Council on two occasions. Perhaps it was his fondness for the French language, but he certainly endeared himself to the French exchange visitors from Coutances.

Mr Henderson had many hobbies in life; in particular, an interest in all types of railways and engines, both home and abroad. He loved studying the American Civil War, and the history of Scotland and England, and on retirement he took up playing golf. He was always a keen traveller and with Muriel, travelled widely. He was also a member of Ben Rhydding Scouts troop.

As a committed Christian, Alec was a Sunday School teacher in earlier years; and so it was, in keeping with his ability to organise events, that Alec decided to organise the details of his funeral service a year ahead of his passing.

The service was conducted by a family friend, Mr Summers, who talked about the partnership between Alec and Muriel – a well-known local teacher – and said that theirs was a good marriage.

The eulogy was given by Alec’s son Ian, who recalled some fond memories of his father and recounted several amusing incidents which illustrated Alec’s quick-wittedness, sense of humour and joie-de-vivre.

Muriel’s daughter Diana gave a tribute to Alec, and there was a full choir and a full church, with some favourite Scottish tunes from the organist.

As per Alec’s request, a Scots piper (Ken Pickles), played a selection of traditional airs while he accompanied the coffin in and out of the church. Again on Alec’s request, the service concluded with a rousing When the Saints go Marching in, and afterwards everyone was invited to enjoy a substantial buffet lunch in the church hall.

Alec was greatly loved by his wife Muriel, son Ian, and all members of both families: he was gentle, kind and sensitive – an honourable man who set an example to us all, and will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

Donations were for the Alzheimer’s Society and The Dog’s Trust.

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