Eric Bielby

Eric Bielby
Eric Bielby
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ERIC Bielby was a market gardener’s son who became Mayor of Beverley on three separate occasions and a respected figure throughout local government.

One of six children born into an East Yorkshire farming family, he was steeped in rural life from an early age. Although the family was not well off and the work was hard – Saturday mornings meant a 2am start with horse and cart taking produce to the market in Hull – there was food enough, and being devout chapel goers, not a penny was wasted on drink.

He was nine when he passed his 11-Plus and joined Beverley Grammar School where he excelled at history and language. His love of poetry earning him the nickname of Bysshe, the middle name of Percy Shelley.

He so much enjoyed his school days that he maintained a close association with the school for the next 85 years.

A scholarship took him to Hull University to read history, and he frequently lodged with an aunt to save money on accommodation as well as bus and rail fares.

After the war he started working on the market garden, eventually taking over the business from his father.

In the 1960s he expanded it to include two greengrocers’ shops to sell home-grown and bought-in produce.

He met his first wife Barbara at a dance in Beverley, marrying her in 1947.

Being self-employed, he was able to combine the demands of the business with public service, a matter of great importance to him, and in May 1951, he was elected to Beverley Borough Council.

He was elected mayor in 1956, holding the position again in 1972 and 1977, the year of the Silver Jubilee.

Mr Bielby had a particular interest in housing, and at various times was chairman of the housing and finance committees.

He was co-opted to the Association of District Councils and was deputy chairman for a time. Well into his 70s he was still serving as a board member of the Sutton Housing Trust, which managed a large number of housing projects across England.

Many other local societies and groups benefited from his enthusiastic support, including the Chrysanthemum Society. But foremost was Beverley Consolidated Charities, which he served for 56 years, the last 25 as chairman. Among the developments which bear testament to his leadership is Eric Bielby Close on Railway Street.

He served as a Justice of the Peace for many years, ending his service as chairman of the bench before retiring to the supplementary list.

Following the death of his wife in late 1990, he became even more heavily involved in local government, and was rewarded with an OBE.

Through his voluntary work he met Joan Dean and they married in 1993, Mr Bielby now acquiring a second family of three daughters.

Known as Mr Beverley, he had an unrivalled reputation for dedication and service to the people and town he had lived in all of his life.

Mr Bielby, who was 95, is survived by his sons Peter and Christopher, four grandchildren, two great-grandsons, and by his second wife Joan and her daughters Margaret, Miriam and Val, and by his younger brother Norman.