Alston foundry worker and on-call firefighter with widest of smiles

Date: Monday 3rd December 2018

A FORMER on-call firefighter who worked at Alston Foundry for more than 20 years has died, aged 81.

Richard Harrison, of Alston, who was known to most people as Dick, was born on 23rd February, 1937, at Oakwood Cottages, Wylam. He was the fourth child, and first son, for Richard and Laura.

The family moved to Alston, where he grew up at High Spency and then Spency Cottage with his older sisters, Margaret, Joyce and Laura, and younger brother Bobby, before they moved to Valley View.

After school, he went to work at the Alston Foundry, where he trained as a pattern maker, making wooden patterns which created the mould to form the steel.

In 1958, at the age of 21, he started his national service with 10 Port Operating Squadron of the Royal Engineers, and spent three years in Singapore and Malaysia. He returned to Alston in 1961 and went back to the foundry, where he worked until it closed in 1980.

He first met his wife-to-be, Ann, while playing for Haltwhistle Football Club, where she helped serve the teas, but it was not until a dance in Alston Town Hall that he asked her out.

The couple married at Haltwhistle in 1965 and set up home in Glendale before they moved to Ashbourne — the bungalow he built for his family. The couple, who had two daughters, Pauline and Valerie, recently celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.

After the closure of the foundry, Dick wanted to stay in Alston, so set up business on his own, working and helping many people on Alston Moor. He also did a spell at local building firm Keartons.

Even after he reached retirement age, if he was asked to do a job he would do it. Nothing was ever any trouble, he was happy to and wanted to help. He spent hours in his workshop, making anything from sash windows to farm gates — and even made Christmas presents for his daughters.

As well as working full-time, Dick was an on-call firefighter. He joined the service in 1969 and became a sub-officer at Alston fire station before he retired in February, 1992.

He was involved in the rescue of many people, not to mention cows and horses.

Dick loved football, both playing and watching, and, as a fan of Newcastle United, in the last 10 years spent many a weekend afternoon at St James’s Park.

He played for both Alston and Haltwhistle and also loved a kickabout with his nephews and latterly with his grandsons.

Dick, who died peacefully in his sleep following a battle with cancer, will be remembered as a quiet family man, who was hardworking, gentle and kind, with the widest of smiles.

He is survived by his wife, Ann; daughters Pauline Cameron, Carlisle, and Valerie Sinkinson, Penrith; sons–in–law Iain Cameron and Paul Sinkinson; grandsons Daniel and Shane Sinkinson, Penrith; sisters Margaret Walton, Alston, and Laura Lowe, Carlisle; and brother Bobby Harrison, Alston.