Modest lord devoted to helping others

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From: Brian Elliott, Ash Dale Road, Warmsworth, Doncaster.

I WAS sad to hear about the recent death of Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract (Yorkshire Post, November 2 and 3).

I met him on a number of occasions when researching my book about his close personal and political friend Lord Mason of Barnsley.

I found him to be very articulate but quietly spoken, and extremely helpful, indeed he could not have done anything more to assist me in my work. He wrote a much appreciated foreword and attended the launch event in Barnsley.

Several years ago I interviewed Geoffrey Lofthouse in his Pontefract home when preparing a magazine feature about the town.

It was great to hear him talk about his long working life in mining (a good deal of it underground) and two great passions: rugby league and campaigning to get compensation for miners affected by industrial diseases.

He had tremendous success with the latter, though it was a subject he was typically modest about. About halfway through the interview there was a brisk knock at the door.

A retired miner had called just to say a big thank you to him for assisting with a claim. I could not help but hear the old miner’s appreciative comments but on his return Geoff just carried on with his recollections as if the visit was normal. I guess it was.

A lot of what Geoffrey Lofthouse did for the miners I am sure went unreported.

From: Edward Priestley, Well Green Lane, Brighouse.

IT is with great sadness I read of the death of Lord Lofthouse of Pontefract.

On January 11, 1989, he asked questions in Parliament on causes of some serious and often fatal conditions and the answers have since helped save countless lives.

In connection with this issue and his campaigns for justice, I am sure Lord Lofthouse would have liked to have been associated with asking the public not to forget all the young women who lost their lives working in munitions and without whom the war could not have been won.

Many died of toxic liver overload and aplastic anaemia due to exposure to trinitrotoluene (TNT). These young women are forgotten casualties of war.

Lessons from our history

From: Dennis Cairns, Penyghent Way, Barnoldswick, Lancashire.

I WAS most interested to read Ken Hartford’s letter (Yorkshire Post, October 27) relating to the topic of learning from history.

I, too, am an 86-year-old retired teacher who, while at school as a scholar, had the good fortune of being introduced to history by an excellent and enthusiastic teacher of that subject.

From that time onwards, I have always tried to look at history through what had happened over the centuries not only internationally and nationally but particularly at the local level.

I firmly believe that unless one understands what has occurred in the past, tragic mistakes continue to be made today. Lessons have not been learned.

On a more personal level, it is history at the local level that now gives me most interest.

Some years ago I was given five diaries written in the 1870s by a cotton weaver here in Barnoldswick. He must have been a very literate person by the comments he entered in these journals, covering worldwide events as well as incidents within the local community. But at about this same period my paternal grandfather came from Penrith to the village, as it then was, to work as an eight-year-old in the very same mill as the diarist.

His wage at that time, so he told me, was no more than half-a-crown (12½p) per week. Did the two ever meet or speak to each other? I shall never know.

But probably the most interesting aspect for me relating to this community’s past is what I might have been looking at from my living room window.

During the early part of the 12th century a small group of Cistercian monks arrived from Fountains Abbey to build one in what is now the field beyond my dwelling. It is reputed that they struggled against the vagaries of the weather which prevented their corn from ripening and the hostility of the local natives. Eventually after about seven years they left to build their abbey in another area. Where was that? At Kirkstall.

So, for me, that is history, something that evolves every second of every day and which all participate, whether we like it, understand it, or not.

From: R Miller, Malt Kiln Croft, Sandal, Wakefield.

WHY are teachers so indignant? Ofqual is merely stating the obvious. Anybody born in this country and reading, writing and speaking its language should achieve more than even the disputed C grade.

Moreover, the apparent inability of many teachers is nothing new. Some six decades ago the Editor of a newspaper received a letter from a teacher wishing to enter journalism. So appalled was he at the correspondent’s English that he published the letter in facsimile for all to see.

About 30 years ago I heard a PE teacher at a South Yorkshire school shout at a boy “Shut yer gob”. A language teacher, no less, at the same school said they were “scrattin’ around” to put together a course in her subject.

Teaching of the English language is apparently often woeful. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?