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Obituaries

John Edward Blake – 1942 to 2008

Brothers of the Harrogate Circle were saddened to learn that John Blake died on 1st May 2008 at the age of 66, after a long struggle with cancer. It was typical of John that few knew of the severe health problems he was facing, which he bore with great fortitude.

John hailed from Guildford but moved round the country as his career in engineering progressed. He and his wife Janet and family moved to Harrogate in 1979. Before retirement John was a director of an engineering business in Leeds, which specialised in equipping factories and similar facilities with dust and pollution control systems.

He retired early in 1996 after he was first diagnosed with tumour on his kidney. When he was given the “all clear” in 1998, he and Janet bought a motor home and spent considerable time touring Britain and Europe. They also spent a year on a world tour which took them to Africa, America and Australia and New Zealand.

John had a number of hobbies and interests. He is well remembered for his work in the Boy Scout movement particularly when he was younger in Guildford. He also was an enthusiastic member of the Scott motorcycle Owners Club. As well as exhibiting his three motorcycles, he was a regular rider of his motorcycle particularly early on a Sunday morning round the Yorkshire Dales.

John was a committed member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society. Quietly and unobtrusively visited and helped (being a very competent handyman) lonely and handicapped people in Harrogate, he organised outings for the elderly and helped the homeless.

John was also an active parishioner of St Roberts Harrogate and for many years he was Chairman of the Committee which ran the Parish Centre. John joined the Harrogate Circle of the Catenians in 1995. He was a popular member of the Circle and a regular attendee of the meetings and supporter of functions.

The large attendance at his requiem mass included not only his family, and Catenian brothers but also people from other walks in life who came to pay their last respects to a friend who had been active in many spheres.

Our sympathies go out to Janet and his children and their families.

Hugh Gallacher – 1937 to 2009

Harrogate Circle Brothers and their wives were shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Hugh Gallacher on 27th August 2009 after a mercifully short illness, borne with humbling stoicism. The following is taken almost verbatim from the moving eulogy given by his daughter Sharon at his Requiem Mass, augmented by a few comments on his Catenian life.

Born in Methil, Scotland, in 1937, Hugh Gallacher was the oldest son of Daniel and Mary Gallacher. The formative years of Hugh and his 2 younger brothers, Edward and Daniel, were influenced by the mining community in which they lived and in which their father worked and by the extraordinary times of the Second World War and its aftermath. A pupil at St Agatha’s Primary and then St Columba’s High school in Cowdenbeath in Fife, Hugh finished his school career in 1953 by taking the Civil Service entrance exam. This was ultimately to lead him into 43 years of work as a Civil Servant with the then Department of the Environment, up until his retirement in 1997. He was a passionate and dedicated worker, whose experiences and accomplishments were many and diverse. His time working for the Civil Service was broken only for a few years as he went on to study at Oxford University in the 1960s, developing and then sustaining what became a life long interest and belief in education, learning and personal development. Hugh married Edna Margaret in November 1958 and so last year celebrated 50 years of happy married life, no small achievement in this day and age.

Although he had spent many years living south of the border, and loved his Harrogate home of 25 years, where he happily and easily settled, his Scottish heritage (and accent of course!) never left him and a part of him was always in Fife, his homeland. Hugh has lived in different parish communities as he has moved around the county since his early days in Methil and he made connections, sustained friendships and rediscovered lost friends over the years.

Shortly after his move to Harrogate, Hugh joined the local Circle and, from the outset, was an active and enthusiastic participant in Circle events. Appointed Circle President in 1989/90, he led the Circle with a relaxed and comfortable style; “…courteous in behaviour and impartial in judgement…” could have been written with Hugh in mind. He then brought his wisdom and experience to good use during his three years as Provincial Councillor before his election as Provincial President in 1994/95, a role he discharged with distinction. Although no longer an Officer of the Circle, he was a regular attender at meetings and would often make pithy observations.

Hugh’s approach in life was influenced by a genuine belief in social justice and equality; by a sense of community, by the pursuit of honesty and fairness, by his respect and concern for others, seen in his years of SVP work and hospital visiting, and by the value he placed on friendship, companionship and the sharing of good times. He was a man of largesse, and not just in a material sense. In short, Hugh Gallacher was an exceptional man. It is not difficult to find words to describe him. Key words have recurred in the many, many tributes paid; generous, steadfast, intelligent; non-judgemental, big-hearted, a good listener, to name but a few He loved the simple pleasures in life, liking nothing more than to socialise with his friends and put the world to rights over a pint or a dram. He liked to spend time on his own too, thinking and writing and he completed a number of writing projects.

Hugh was a dedicated family man, bringing to his family stability, consistency and unconditional love. His powerful belief in the family is a strong theme in his memoirs “Beyond the Big Tree”. His three daughters consider that it has been an honour to have lived under his paternal tutelage. Hugh’s life was deeply enriched by the arrival of his grandchildren with whom he experienced such joy.

Above all, he was a deeply spiritual and religious man, a man of immense faith, a deeply committed Christian and a devout Catholic. He found solace and meaning in the words of scripture and was sustained at all times throughout his life by his unfaltering belief in the Lord, no less so than in his latter days.

Hugh leaves the world a better place for having been in it.

Our prayers and sympathies go out to Margaret, her daughters and grandchildren, with the assurance of our continued loving support.

May Hugh rest in peace and rise in glory.

Steve Jowitt – 1948 to 2010

The brothers of Harrogate Circle were deeply saddened at the death of Steve Jowitt in December 2010. David Rhodes writes:

"The first time I met Steve some six or seven years ago I knew I would like him. Not just because he came from Leeds and had experienced the joys of Roundhay Park, and the Saturday club at the Clock Cinema but because he was instantly on my wavelength, and so obviously genuinely interested in what I was saying. And that’s how Steve was, interested in people, in what they had to say and what they wanted to do.

Steve was born in Leeds and went to school there but he spent much of his adult life here in Harrogate and York. After leaving school and a short foray in to engineering, Steve joined Lloyds Bank and was soon posted to Harrogate branch. Whilst working there he met a young girl of sixteen who had also recently joined Lloyds and had also recently come to this part of the world with her parents from the Midlands. That girl was of course Penny and after a lot of driving up and down the A61 from Leeds where Steve lived to Bishop Monkton where Penny lived they were married in 1973.

Steve continued with his banking career moving to York where he had his first taste of management and then moving to Leeds as a manager in the bank’s commercial department. Steve’s career in the bank prospered and having spoken to his former colleagues his diligence to duty, his hard work to ensure things got done and his very positive attitude were warmly appreciated. And so was his sense of humour and his ability to get on with people and build up good relationships with customers and clients. He knew lots of people in the professions in Harrogate, York and Leeds and was seen as a friend by many of them. It was his ability to build relationships and make contacts that led him to join his next employer following his early retirement from the bank in 1999.

Steve joined the P & A Partnership of insolvency accountants and became their ambassador for this part of Yorkshire. He worked for the next ten years exploring opportunities in the accountancy and allied professions. He consolidated existing business connections and created new contacts and connections for the partnership.

But the time after leaving the bank was not just taken up by his new role. Steve also fulfilled a lifetime ambition and became a qualified scuba diver. He joined a group of like-minded people, incidentally called the ‘scoobidoos’, and became hooked on diving in the seas off the U. K. and the Canary Islands particularly around Lanzarote where he and Penny made lots of friends.

In his quest for excitement and new horizons Steve also joined the Harrogate Circle of the Cateniains. Now excitement may have been in short supply but he did discover a new bunch of friends and he became an active member of the Circle first of all as Registrar and then Marshall and serving on Council for the last 5 years. Steve helped to organise social events, gave wise counsel at meetings and will be greatly missed by the brothers of the Circle.

But above all Steve was a family man. He was immensely proud of Mark his son and considered Claire, Mark’s wife, to be the daughter he and Penny never had. Mark told me he thought Steve was a great Dad who had a smashing sense of humour and was always trying to make him laugh. He remembers him playing with a Frisbee on the beach one holiday and Steve continually throwing the Frisbee miles over Mark’s head just to wind him up. And in keeping with the scuba diving and his earlier hobby of pot holing Mark recalls that Steve actually enjoyed white knuckle rides at the funfair, smiling and waving when everyone else would be screaming and have their eyes closed.

Of course when Thomas his grandson was born a couple of years ago Steve was overjoyed. He doted on him and Thomas was his pride and joy.

Steve will also be remembered as a brave man. He had been ill for more than three years and withstood it with cheerfulness and fortitude. Even at the last Cateniain meeting that Steve attended in November he was chatting to brothers and making light of the prospect of his impending visit to hospital. He knew the odds of success of his treatment was low but was aware that it was possibly the only hope of gaining more time with Penny and Mark and his family, who always gave him their full support.

Steve had a strong Catholic faith and believed in the power of prayer. The last time I saw him in St James’ Hospital he told me that he could actually feel our prayers and was strengthened by them.

But my lasting memory of Steve will be of the man who always had a smile no matter what the news, who always had a story to tell and of the man who never gave up, because of his love for Penny and all his family."

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