Category Archives: Obituaries

Roger Parkes

We are sorry to hear about the death of Roger Parkes on October 21st after a long illness

Our condolences to his wife Jean and all the family including OWs Catherine, Simon, Russell and Sarah.

Roger, an OWA President was a larger than life character, leaving a positive mark behind him especially at Stourbridge Rugby Club where he was a regular player and past President.

The funeral is on Tuesday 6th November at 1.00pm at Wyre Forest Crematorium and afterwards at Stourbridge RFC. No flowers but donations welcome – please send to H. Porter & Sons Funeral Directors Old Church House, 60 South Road, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 3UJ to be distributed amongst chosen charities.

Kenneth ‘Bill’ Stanworth

We are sorry to hear from Mr Richard Stanworth that his father Kenneth Parker (Bill) Stanworth passed away on 4th March 2012.

Many of you will recall Bill’s fabulous recollections of his days at
Sebright that we were able to publish in our October 2008 Newsletter.
Richard tells me that the family, not even Bill’s wife, had seen the
memories of his school days, so finding the Newsletter in Bill’s effects
had reminded the family of Bill’s school recollections.

Bill was 91 when he passed away, and he died just 9 days short of his 92nd Birthday.

Our sincere condolences are sent to Bill’s widow, Richard and their family.”

Michael R. Needham

We are very sorry to hear that Mr Michael R. Needham of Cutnall Green passed away on Monday 30th April 2012. Our sincere condolences are extended to Mrs Needham and their family.

The funeral for family and local friends will be held at St Michael’s Church, Elmley Lovett on Saturday 12th May.

There will be a Remembrance Service, also at St Michael’s Church, Elmely Lovett on Thursday 31st May 2012.”

Many thanks in advance.

Dr. Jack Baker

Sadly Jack died on Saturday 27th March. As many of you know, Jack was a past Chairman of the Trustees at Heathfield, an Old Wolvernian, Past President of the Old Wolvernians and had been a long standing, committee member of the OW and long time supporter of the Association.

His two sons Philip and Simon were also OWs and our sympathies are extended to them and to his wife Peggy.

Alan Beams

We are very sorry to hear of the death of Alan Beams on March 22nd, after a short illness. Alan was an Old Wolvernian, a past President of the OWA and of course known to most of us as the first headmaster at Heathfield, from 1961 to 1977. From all aspects the OWA and Heathfield have lost a very unique and revered person.

Our sympathies are extended to his wife Pat and daughter Elizabeth who also attended Heathfield.

The Venerable Anthony James Balmforth

We have learnt of the death of AJ Balmforth.

Obituary: The Venerable Anthony James Balmforth


[1926 – 2009]

Rt Revd Barry Rogerson, the former Bishop of Bristol, commends the life of VenAnthony Balmforth who was the Archdeacon of Bristol throughout the 1980s.

Anthony’s ministry began and ended in a mining community. Ordained in 1952 at Southwell Minster, he served a curacy in a mining community, Mansfield. On his retirement he and Eileen moved to a mining community in the Forest of Dean, where he exercised a more than active retirement ministry.

Anthony was the son of a vicarage, whose education at Oxford was put on hold by War Service, which took him to the Far East and Singapore in particular. It was in Singapore he came under the influence of Bishop Leonard Wilson, whose episcopal ministry included imprisonment during the Japanese occupation. Anthony’s National Service was cut short when he his petrol tanker was blown up requiring plastic surgery and recuperation in Switzerland. Returning to Oxford he exchanged physics for theology and completed is preparation for ministry at Lincoln Theological College, then one of the foremost liberal catholic colleges.

For those who like to find connections, Anthony’s ministry provides a rich vein. After an initial curacy and incumbency the family moved to Kidderminster, where Eileen, ever a forthright support, and he had grown up and where Anthony’s father had been incumbent. Bishop Leonard Wilson, now Bishop of Birmingham, re-enters the frame inviting Anthony to be incumbent of King’s Norton, once part of the King’s forest, but now a large suburban parish on the south west edge of Birmingham itself. For fourteen years until his appointment as Archdeacon of Bristol in 1979, Anthony exercised what many still remember as an outstanding parochial ministry. Clergy in neighbouring dioceses knew about Anthony through his prowess as a cricketer.

Bishop John Tinsley invited Anthony to be Archdeacon of Bristol. Archdeacons are the butt of many ecclesiastical jokes, in part because no one is exactly clear who and what an Archdeacon is. Traditionally deacons were the agents of the bishop, becoming known as the bishop’s eyes and ears, bringing to the bishop’s attention those who are worthy of praise but they are also to defend the clergy, against whom is not clear.

The experience of being a busy parish priest, who had colleagues, had given Anthony the gift of pastoral care of the clergy. There are many who would attest to his patience, his willingness to encourage and if necessary to wait for a priest to make their own decisions. Anthony himself said that he acted this way so that the clergy couldn’t blame him if it went wrong, but that is to underestimate his care and pastoral skill. The early years as an Archdeacon in Bristol were not easy, not least because his predecessor maintained his contacts and relationships with those who had been his Rural Deans, but patience won through.

The mission of the Church requires resources and it was Anthony’s patience and skill in dealing with the Trustees of the many Bristol ecclesiastical charities which released funds, to enable the work of Industrial Mission and Social Responsibility to develop. There were many areas of the life of the diocese which benefitted from Anthony’s wise and patient counsel, not least that of Hospital Chaplaincy during the time in which the NHS limited the access clergy had to their parishioners. But above all he enjoyed being Chaplain to the Church Lads & Church Girls Brigade and not least their summer camp on the Isle of Wight.

Perhaps Anthony’s granddaughter caught the essence of the man when she reminded us all that he always had an egg cup of Smarties for them after they had cleaned their teeth! Humanity, loyalty and patience served the Diocese of Bristol and the Church well.”

I don’t have any details of his time at Sebright, but if anyone can enlighten me I would be grateful

Jim Caswell

We are very sorry to learn of the death of Jim Caswell, and our sympathies go to his family and friends.

12.12.1915 – 15.04.2007

James Luther Caswell, known to all as Jim, has died at the age of 91. He was born in Cookley, Worcestershire and lived in the village or close by for all of his life. During the Second World War he served in the Third Royal Tank Regiment seeing action in Egypt, Greece, Crete and through the Western Desert to Tunisia, where he was seriously wounded when a bullet passed through his neck. He took part in the invasion of Normandy where he was again wounded.

Following demobilisation in 1946 he was appointed Secretary of the Wolverhampton and Stourbridge branch of the National Farmers Union, a post he held until his retirement thirty years later. Highlights of his time in this position included the part he played in organising and preparing the wonderful displays of vegetables put on at the Royal and Staffordshire Agricultural Shows for many years. When Britain entered the Common Market he arranged fact finding exchange visits for groups of farmers from Staffordshire and the Loire area of France. He also held the post of Hon. Secretary of the Wolverhampton District Staffordshire Agricultural Society, of which he was made a life member after his retirement.

Throughout his life Jim Caswell played a very active role in serving the wider community. He represented Cookley and Wolverley as County Councillor from 1977 until 1981 and was a Parish Councillor for many years. Standing initially as an Independent candidate he later became active as a member of the local Conservative Party and as President of Wyre Forest Conservatives. He served for a long time on the Kidderminster & District Community Health Council. For this organisation he specialised in overseeing the care of people with learning difficulties and disabilities, with particular interest in the Lea Castle Hospital, also serving as a Governor of the Special Hospital School.

In 1948 he was a member of the committee that raised funds for the purchase of the 24-acre Cookley Playing Fields enabling the establishment of tennis, cricket. football and bowls facilities. He continued to serve extensively on the management committee and since 1988 has been President. He headed the committee that organised the celebrations in Cookley for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. He was connected with St. Peter’s Church in Cookley in many capacities, as choirboy, Parochial Church Councillor and sidesman. In 1978 the church was reported to be unsafe and threatened with demolition. He urged that the church should be saved for future generations and persuaded everyone that this was a real possibility. He then worked to help raise the £60,000 needed, the main work being completed in 1985. Funds continue to be raised for further restoration work by the Friends of St. Peter’s, an organisation of which he was a founder member and first Treasurer. In 1983 he called a public meeting to form a committee to raise funds to purchase a Community Bus with priority use for the aged, disabled and youth groups. This was purchased in 1985 and used for many years benefiting the communities of Cookley and Wolverley.

Following his war service Jim served on the committee of the Cookley and Wolverley branch of the Royal British Legion, participating regularly in the Remembrance Day Services and a short time ago was very proud to be appointed President of the branch. He also maintained his links with the Army. Until recently he was largely responsible for the organisation of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment Annual Reunions and acted as Secretary of the 3rd R.T.R. Assoc. Benevolent Fund. He organised a number of Pilgrimages to the Battlefields of Normandy most recently in 2004 to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of D-Day. Memorably the town of Flers had arranged for hundreds of school children to line the streets waving Union Jacks and the French Flag as the veterans were driven to the Town Hall reception.

Jim had many sporting interests. In the village he played both tennis and cricket spending much time to help run both activities. He was a life member of both in recognition of his service. For many years together with his wife, Dorothy, he organised the annual Dinner Dance where significant funds were raised for the Hereford and Worcester Lawn Tennis Association to foster tennis facilities for young players. He was a Patron of that organisation. Since boyhood he has supported West Bromich Albion Football Club and Worcestershire County Cricket Club attending many matches of both teams over the years.

Many campaigns had Jim Caswell at the forefront -often to maintain or improve life locally and further afield. Not all these were successful – for example £50,000 was quickly raised for a fighting fund for the retention of Sebright Grammar School but the plan was not agreed to and the money had to be returned to the donors. More happily the long campaign to refurbish and hang the bells at St Peter’s Church in Cookley bore fruit. Throughout his adult life he was greatly supported and helped by Dorothy, until her death in 1994. He maintained many of his links with the above organisations and continued to work actively for several of them until very recently.



Notes by Pauline Goodsell (daughter)