Tributes pour in for Bardsey ‘local hero’ who was loved by so many

Billy Gilmore with his beloved grandsons Corey and Harrison.
Billy Gilmore with his beloved grandsons Corey and Harrison.

Tributes have been pouring in for Bardsey “local hero” Billy Gilmore who died last week following a stroke.

Billy was a popular member of the community who loved family, football, his village and a pint in the Bingley Arms.

The retired policeman, who “touched the lives of everyone he met”, coached youth football, both in Yorkshire and America, and could often be seen helping out in the village he adored.

Hundreds of tributes have been left on Billy’s Facebook page and his wife Val said she was overwhelmed by all the kind comments.

She said: “It’s overwhelming. I knew everybody loved him but now I have seen how much. He was one in a million and he will be missed by so many. We had a lovely life together.”

Billy was born in Leeds on October 30 1944. He was working as a tailor in the city when he met Val, aged 17, at the Mecca Locarno Ballroom.

She said: “It was love at first sight when we met and we got engaged after a year. My dad said you can marry her if you have a good job so he joined the police force when he was 19.”

Billy was a West Yorkshire Police officer for 30 years and was based in Chapeltown during the riots in the 1970s.

Val said: “He helped a lot of people in that time because it was awful and everybody was frightened.”

He was a huge football fan and used to play for the Leeds United Supporters Club, where he befriended many of the players, including Peter Lorimer and Eddie Gray.

Billy also loved to coaching, starting a community football scheme in Chapeltown when he was a young policeman.

He then went on to coach at Oakland University, in Michigan, every summer for 20 years and taught the Bardsey Junior U12s football team for the last three years.

Billy was also a dedicated dad to son Justin and his grandsons Corey, 19, and Harrison, 14.

Val said: “He used to take the boys to the duck pond, which was his favourite place in the village, and there are plans to put a memorial bench there.”

His other favourite watering hole, was the Bingley Arms, where he could usually be found sat on his bar stool.

The pub’s landlord Ged Sugden said: “He was an incredible man who did so much for the community. He’s the sort of bloke that did everything for everybody and never wanted anything in return.”

Billy’s brother Steven, who spent much of his time with Billy, added: “He was just so well known by so many people. He was a local hero.

“I’m privileged to have a fantastic brother like that. He was a good man.”

Billy funeral will take place at All Hallows Church, Bardsey, on Monday at 11am followed by a reception at the Bingley Arms.