Coronavirus death of former Leeds detective who gave 'heart and soul' to Pontefract hospice

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a retired senior West Yorkshire Police officer and tireless hospice supporter after his death from coronavirus.

Bill Henderson

Retired Superintendent Bill Henderson, who worked as a detective in Leeds for many years and supported Pontefract's Prince of Wales Hospice for 30 years, died of coronavirus in Pinderfields Hospital at Wakefield on April 2 aged 78.

Great grandfather Mr Henderson, of Pontefract, was a popular and well-known figure in the town and many people lined the streets at a safe distance to applaud as his funeral cortege made its way to Pontefract Crematorium on Wednesday (April 22.)

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Mr Henderson organised countless fundraising concerts and dinners for the Prince of Wales Hospice and launched a fundraising darts and dominoes league in the areas pubs and clubs in the 1980s.

Bill Henderson

He later co-ordinated the Hospice & Charities Darts & Domino league, which has funded six vehicles to support the hospice's shops since 1993.

Mr Henderson was a member of Pontefract Rotary Club and had been due to become the club's president for the third time this July.

His grandson Alex, 25, said: "He was a real old fashioned gentleman and old school copper - he was just brilliant."

Mr Henderson's son Iain, 52, who works as a nurse at St James's Hospital in Leeds, said: "He was larger than life and filled every room he went into."

Mr Henderson, who had two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, was born in Newcastle and joined West Yorkshire Police as a constable in 1964.

He worked in Leeds as detective for the majority of his career and was involved in major cases including the Yorkshire Ripper enquiry.

He reached the rank of Superintendent and ended his career working as the divisional officer in Pontefract when he retired in the mid 1990s.

Mr Henderson's eldest son Andrew died in 2008 aged 43 and his wife Irene died aged 69 in 2012. Both had suffered from cancer.

Rebecca Taylor, Prince of Wales Hospice community fundraiser, said: "He had a beaming smile and a heart filled with passion which made him the selfless man that we will always remember."

Hospice chief executive David Stewart, said: " His support of colleagues in our shops was immense, and he was very proud of the part he played in ensuring their success over the years."

Gordon Tollefson, chair of the hospice's board of trustees, said: "Soon after his retirement from the police, Bill became a member of the Hospice fund and later joined our board of trustees, working with us on the main board for a number of years.

"As the number of shops increased it was prudent to transfer the retail element of the hospice to a separate board of directors and it was Bill’s choice to take up a director post on that board. He soon became a familiar and very popular face around our shops and his dedication to the hospice was without measure.'

"Whilst all of us at the hospice mourn his loss, we will remember him as someone who gave his heart and soul to the ongoing success of the Prince of Wales Hospice. Rest in Peace, Bill."