“Whistling chemist” and family man dies, aged 82

Date: Monday 5th June 2017
George Ernest Western
George Ernest Western

A PRINCIPLED man of faith, a true gentleman and a family man, George Ernest Western has died, aged 82.

Born to Elizabeth and John Western, of Maiden Hill, Penrith, he had four brothers, a sister and a half sister.

The family lived in various villages in the Eden Valley as his father worked on farms, before finding work on the Carlisle-Settle line when the family moved to Langwathby.

Mr. Western had a happy childhood and liked to spend time at his Uncle Tommy and Uncle George’s farm at Thackthwaite.

He attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith, where he did well. After leaving school, Mr. Western was taken on as an apprentice by Edmondson’s pharmacist, veterinary and seed merchants, in Penrith, and attended Carlisle Technical College to further his studies.

At the age of 19, Mr. Western was standing outside the Regent cinema when he first saw his future wife, Evelyn Head. While he studied pharmacy at Herriot Watt, in Edinburgh, then served in the Army for two years, the couple’s romance flourished, despite the distance between them.

At Barton Church on 4th April, 1959, Acting Sergeant Western RAMC, stationed at Hadrian’s Camp, married “the love of his life”, Evelyn. They were said to have “58 wonderful years” of marriage.

The newlyweds moved to Doncaster where they both worked in chemists. This was short lived, however, and they were drawn back to Cumbria. Mr. Western worked at G. Lightfoot and Son Ltd., Stanwix, Carlisle, and in time, became director.

In 1963, son Phillip was born, followed by Christopher, exactly three years, three months and three days later.

A valued mentor to younger pharmacists, Mr. Western was in his element serving customers, dispensing advice in equal quantity to his medicines.

He worked for Lightfoot’s for 43 years in various locations and never had a day off sick — even when he suffered a partially collapsed lung after a fall. He served in the Cumberland branch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

Wherever he worked, Mr. Western was engaged with the community and was an active member of Rotary. About 16 years ago, he and his wife moved home to Penrith and Mr. Western transferred to the town’s Rotary club.

He took up an allotment at Folly Lane and enjoyed growing fruit and vegetables. He was also involved with St. Andrew’s Church and Sound Advice, an organisation which helps people with their hearing aids, as well as volunteering and charity work.

Mrs. Western called her husband “the whistling chemist” as he was a “sunny soul” who found interest in everyone and everything.

He was always interested in gaining knowledge and enjoyed travelling with his wife. One highlight was a trip to India and Nepal.

He also revelled in travelling to all parts of the world to see his seven grandchildren, who he cherished.

Mr. Western is survived by his wife, Evelyn; sons Philip, a GP in Birmingham and Christopher, manager of Tata Steel works in Corby; siblings Tom, Raymond and Margery Sowerby, all of Penrith; and seven grandchildren.