Harry Livesey

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HARRY Livesey, who has died aged 83, played an active role in the life of Wakefield, his adopted home, serving on the city council and making significant contributions to numerous organisations.

Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, he was the only son of Eli and Philis Livesey. Having attended local primary and secondary schools, he went on to Blackburn Technical College and then undertook a five-year apprenticeship with Harold Ibbotson, joiners and undertakers, where he learnt joinery and how to make coffins.

At the same time he studied part-time at Manchester Technical College.

In 1952, he married Jean Topping, and it was she who influenced the future direction of his career.

He had thought of going into the undertaking business, but she put her foot down and would not let him store the coffins in the house.

Following two years of National Service in the RAF, he went into the construction industry, doing various management jobs in Lancashire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, and with different employers.

In his spare time, he studied quantity surveying, qualifying in 1960.

Eventually he settled in Wakefield where, in 1970, he set up his own practice in which his son Stuart joined him three years later, and his grandson Mark in 2007.

Mr Livesey specialised in the legal side of the construction industry, becoming a registered arbitrator dealing with construction disputes.

In recognition for his work in this specialist field, and for helping to set up the North East Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, of which he became chairman, he was invited to become a member of the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators and, in 1981, received the Freedom of the City of London.

Having settled in Wakefield, it was not long before he became involved in the life of the city.

He stood as a Conservative candidate for the St John’s Ward of the city council, representing it from 1968 until 1971.

He joined the Wakefield Round Table and Wakefield 41 Club (for men of over 40 who are also former members of Round Table) becoming chairman in 1977, and he was a member of Wakefield Rotary Club, becoming president in 1997, and Wakefield Calder Probus Club, becoming chairman in 2007.

A past master of Richard Linecar Lodge and a member of Wakefield Chapter 495 for many years, he was a committed Freemason and served more recently as treasurer of the Friends of Chantry Chapel.

He was also on the committee of the Wakefield Civic Society.

His support of Scouting resulted in his appointment as district chairman of Wakefield Scouts.

Throughout it all, he remained a loyal Lancastrian, always interested in his favourite football club Blackburn Rovers, and when the loyal toast was given at the formal dinners he attended, he always toasted “The Duke of Lancaster”.

Mr Livesey was gregarious and willingly helped and advised many people who never guessed that he had suffered tragic losses in his personal life.

His wife Jean died in 1988 at the age of 58, their only daughter Pamela died in 1991 at the age of 35, and a final blow came last year when Kevin, their younger son, died at the age of 48.

Mr Livesey is survived by his elder son Stuart, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.