A well known, much loved and lifelong resident of Alderley Edge sadly passed away last week.
Harold Smith died at East Cheshire Hospice on Monday 16th December aged 78 years. Harold had been of ill health for about a year but in September he was diagnosed with lung cancer and a secondary brain tumour.
The beloved husband of Margaret, who he married at St Bartholomew's Church, Wilmslow in 1956 and dear father to Norman and Hazel, grandad to Olivia and Alex, much loved father-in-law to Sue and Derek and brother of Arthur.
Harold and Margaret lived in Heywood Close, not far from where he was born, all their married life and it was very much a family home. His family and Alderley Edge were of upmost importance to Harold.
He served in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers and prior to retirement he taught upholstery at Ashworth Hospital. He was a dab hand at making things and often did odd jobs for family and friends, including covering chairs, building shelves and cupboards as well as building an aeroplane for his grandchildren to play in.
Harold remained very active in his retirement and was fond of travelling and having been a keen cyclist he loved watching the Tour de France every year. Harold was also extremely interested in history, particularly anything to do with the village and he was also a fantastic source of information for me - always happy to assist with historical facts and share fascinating stories about the village.
Harold was a founding member of the Alderley Edge History Group which came about as a result of the Alderley Landscape Project, a 10-year study of Alderley Edge which was conducted by Manchester University. The History Group started as a small thing but it soon became clear that this was something a lot of people were interested in. Harold became Chairman of the group for about 7 years ago and it was only in the last year of his life that he wanted to step down.
Harold was also involved The Blackden Trust, with his childhood friend Alan Garner, which celebrates the crafts and skills that have created a unique heritage on a small parcel of land at the heart of Blackden.
His granddaughter Olivia paid tribute saying "He was kind loving and generous man to a fault especially with Alex and I. Whether buying us daft teddies, new clothes or letting me drag him up every tower at Conway castle. Alex and I have many fond memories of spending time with both him and our grandmother in the village - buying sweets and balloons or taking us up on The Edge and telling us all about local myths and legends, which we loved.
"As we got older they also took us away on holiday to the south of England but also to Copenhagen, Jersey and Tenerife. Those holidays were greatly enjoyed by the four of us and we saw some amazing things.
"We have lost a great wealth of information and history. He was a modest man."
Novelist Alan Garner OBE, author of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, said "My friendship with Harold dates from 1938, when my grandmother went to live at Belmont. We were members of the Belmont Gang, who played on the patch of dirt at the back of the houses. During the Second World War, after the all-clear siren had sounded, we used to collect shrapnel that had landed in Heyes Lane from the anti-aircraft guns in Johnny Baguley's fields and swap them next day at school.
"Once, near Nancy Ford's shop, Harold picked up a partly-exploded incendiary bomb, which oozed a sticky white paste with a nasty smell. I don't know how much he got for it in the playground, but he was the hero of the day, until Miss Fletcher found out.
"Harold's endless curiosity stayed with him. In later years, he was a valued member of the steering committee of the Alderley Edge Landscape Project, run jointly by the Manchester Museum and the National Trust. When its work was done, Harold was not satisfied. He felt that there was more of the story to be told, and to that end, together with Margaret, he founded the Alderley Edge History Society, which, along with memories of his kindness and wicked sense of humour, remains as a tribute to his life."
Mandy Parr met Harold when they were both on the Alderley Landscape Project Committee. She said "I was on the committee representing the Parish Council. Harold advised on dialect and local history. From this Harold had the idea that there was so much history and stories out there that he had a vision for a local history group. He wanted it to be casual, relaxed and accessible to everyone. He achieved this and more.
"We meet every 2 months and over the past 7 years we have had many speakers and have at present a membership of about 90 and an attendance of 50 each meeting. We have many show and tell events and members have shared long forgotten stories and photos, many which have featured in alderleyedge.com.
"It is a testimony to Harold and Margaret's enthusiasm, how successful the group has been and he will be sorely missed."
Harold's funeral will take place next week. For details about the arrangements please contact J Jennings & Son Funeral Directors, Cherry Trees, Chelford Road, Alderley Edge, SK9 7TL, 01625 584 199.
Photos: Harold and Margaret on top of Snaefell on the Isle of Man one Christmas. The Belmont Gang 1939. Back row: (l-r) Betty Garner, Alan Garner, Gordon Smith, Iris Jepson. Front row: (l-r) Mary Bilsborough, Ruth Bilsborough, Geoffrey Garner, Harold Smith, holding baby brother Arthur.
Harold and Margaret at the Alderley Edge May, the Jubilee Street Party last year and the last meeting of the Alderley Edge History Group which Harold attended in September.