A tribute to Les Siddall

Les Siddall, of the Hour Car service
Les Siddall, of the Hour Car service

Working tirelessly for his community since settling in the Calder Valley more than 40 years ago, former Mayor of Hebden Royd Les Siddall died at his Mytholmroyd home on January 5.

Les, who was 78, followed his 1996-97 Mayoral year with two later spells as a consort. His drive and energy often seemed undimmed despite advancing years and health issues, helping clear up after the December floods.

His son Stephen said he had great pride learning of things Les had done for the community, and hearing stories about him. Les could be maverick, on occasion obstinate where he thought the situation required it - once chaining himself to a car park to illustrate his point - but you always knew where you stood with him.

As well as serving on Hebden Royd Town Council, the Labour activist was chairman, director and trustee of four charities - the Ground Floor Project in Hebden Bridge which won the Duke of York award over three consecutive years, the Mill Cafe project which was the first ever winner of the Duke of York award for community initiative, DOT Communications which won the Halifax Courier’s best recycling initiative award, and Hour Car Unlimited, the first car share scheme in Yorkshire which also won a community innovation award.

He was invited to one of the Queen’s garden parties at Buckingham Palace, London, to receive an award on behalf of the Ground Floor Project, chatting to Prince Philip. In the late 90s, he was one of two Calderdale people nominated to be a People’s Lord, neither selected, but prompting friends to wonder what the House of Lords would have made of Les, and visa-versa.

Over the years he was also Father Christmas - helicoptered in to play the role at Walkley’s Hebden Bridge, and more recently ensuring needy valley children got a gift at Christmas through the annual Calder Valley Christmas Toy Appeal. In his working life Les’s career following National Service included spells as a bus conductor, a systems analyst and at British Telecom.

The Manchester man who made his home first in Hebden Bridge and then Mytholmroyd never lost his devotion to Manchester United FC and was an award-winning breeder and judge of Basenji dogs, a hobby which brought him friends all over the world.

His funeral will be held at Park Wood Crematorium, Elland, on Friday, January 22, arrive 12.30pm for 12.45pm service, with donations in lieu of flowers for the Ground Floor Project most welcome.