Ron Windle

KNOWN as an exceptionally conscientious councillor, Ron Windle who has died aged 89, was Mayor of Rotherham in 1998, and for 24 years represented the former Brinsworth, Catcliffe and Treeton ward on the Borough Council. He was first elected in 1975 and remained a member until 1999.

During that period, he was a long-standing member of both the former Social Services and Education Committees.

The end came after Labour introduced a validation scheme for Labour councillors which Mr Windle considered insulting in view of his record of public service. He refused to take part in it, and was dropped by the Party.

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This was a man with a forceful personality who put all his energy into helping people; his was a seven-day a week job, and he fought particularly hard to protect care homes for the elderly. His character was such that it overcame his lack of eloquence; when he argued a case, everyone got the message.

Mr Windle, his father, John, a moulder, was born and brought-up in Treeton. One of six children, including a step-sister, he left school at 14 to work at the former Treeton Colliery.

In 1933, he married Margaret Hird of the neighbouring village of Catcliffe.

Mr Windle had shown talent at football from a young age, and developed it to a stage at which he was good enough to quit the pit and become a professional.

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He played midfield - often as a guest player - in numerous local teams including Bradford Park Avenue, Gainsborough, Buxton and Macclesfield, and leading national clubs of the day such as Notts County, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa and Hull City.

A knee injury, however, put an end to his playing days and he returned to the coal industry.

Dedicated to the Labour Party, he was an enthusiastic member of the National Union of Mineworkers, becoming a friend and supporter of Arthur Scargill. He worked at various pits in the area before moving to his final colliery at Orgreave, where he became NUM Secretary. He was on the picket line during the Battle of Orgreave, one of the most violent confrontations during the bitter 1984/85 miners’ strike.

A familiar figure throughout the Treeton area, Mr Windle was a very gregarious man, and happiest when working to improve the lives of others. Being elected Mayor of the Borough during his final year as a councillor was a crowning moment.

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In recent years, after a long struggle with both Alzheimer’s and cancer, he had moved away from Treeton and into residential homes, benefiting now from his battles, when he had been a councillor, to improved care for the elderly.

He died peacefully in his sleep only hours after sharing memories with staff of when he and Margaret, who died in 2002, were Rotherham’s Civic Couple.

He is survived by six sons - twins Barrie and Douglas, David, twins Paul and Kevin, and Neil - and 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

A funeral service is to be held for Mr Windle at 12 noon on Friday, September 2, at the Rotherham Crematorium followed by a reception at the Brinsworth WMC.