First Wetherby town mayor dies aged 91 in Kent

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Tributes have been paid to Wetherby’s first mayor who died, aged 91, following a fall at his Elham home last month.

A minute’s silence was last week held by town councillors for John Midgley who held the office from 1974-78.

His deputy from 1976 to 78, Coun Derek Nicholson said: “I knew him very well.

“He was a good mayor because he ran his family’s road haulage firm Midgley Transport, and he was well versed in management.

“I last saw him in Harrogate about 20 years ago.”

Like most of his generation, almost five years of Mr Midgley’s youth was spent on active service.

He was a gunner in the Royal Artillery but by the age of 22 he had risen to the rank of Major.

After the Battle of Britain, he made the long journey by ship, The Monarch of Bermuda, to serve under Field Marshall Montgomery in the North African desert.

His son Jonathan, who is a solicitor in Hong Kong, said: “The war years were some of the most formative ones for dad.

“They revealed a natural leadership and confirmed a deep and abiding love for his country.”

He added that his father regretted not staying in the army after the end of the war to make it his career.

“But it was not to be. As the only son, duty called him back to Leeds to help run the family business,” added Jonathan.

Jonathan explained that his father managed to combine running JB Midgley and Sons, of Meadow Lane, Leeds, with a happy family life and active involvement in local government and the voluntary sector.

John and his wife Margaret, who he met at Scarborough Cricket Festival and married in 1950, moved to Wetherby because they liked the nature of the market town.

They bought Raintree Lodge, formerly Scar Lodge, from Major Taylor and brought up three children - Jonathan, Loucinda Carol (now living in London) and Jamie Adam a photographer who currently lives in High Falls, America.

“He was particularly proud to have been the first Mayor of Wetherby,” said Jonathan.

Mr Midgley and Margaret retired to Elham in Kent in 1984 to be near family.

Sport was a passion for John, and on going south, he transferred his attendance, from Leeds United to Charlton Athletic and from Yorkshire to Kent cricket.

His wife’s death in 1990 was a great blow and he plunged with renewed vigour into voluntary work, particularly with the Shepway Volunteer Bureau, starting as a driver and becoming its Chairman.

Jonathan added: “He felt useful through his charitable works and in 2007 he was awarded the Badge of the Order of Mercy.”

Mr Midgley was described by his family as living life to the full to the very last, although he had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

The funeral took place at St Mary’s Church in Elham on April 4.