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