Former Bolton-le-Sands head and pillar of community passes away at 101

A former village school headteacher and well-known member of the community has passed away at the age of 101.

Tuesday, 20th November 2018, 11:47 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th November 2018, 11:49 am

Kenneth Entwistle was born during World War One on June 26 1917 in Blackburn, the youngest of three children.

At the age of six his father, who was head of Emmanuel School in Blackburn, died.

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His mother had also been a teacher, but – as was the case in those days – had been compelled to give up her post on marriage. She returned to teaching after her husband’s death to maintain some family income.

The family had no resources to send Kenneth to university, but he attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Blackburn and then trained as a teacher himself. Shortly after beginning his career war broke out in 1939 and Kenneth joined the army.

He served for six years, in the Western Desert and in Italy, as Staff Sergeant Entwistle, experiencing some narrow escapes from death or capture, and receiving Mention in Despatches.

By 1945 allied troops had fought their way up the leg of Italy, and at the close of hostilities Kenneth was given the task of lecturing British troops at Perugia University (northern Italy) on the benefits that the new National Health Service was going to bring those returning to civilian life.

Shortly after the war he met Dorothy Fenna, who was from Manchester, and they married in 1948 – the start of 67 years of happy married life, partners in everything they did. They had two sons in 1951 and 1952, John and Robert.

Kenneth became a headteacher in Blackburn, but in 1964 the family moved to Bolton-le-Sands where Kenneth took up the headship of the village primary school. He held the post for 14 years, his wife working as school secretary.

The school grew rapidly, and he oversaw the creation of a new site on Mount Pleasant Lane – for some years working between this and the old site in the centre of the village. His sons John and Robert attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

Kenneth became a central figure in Bolton-le-Sands. He served on the Parochial Church Council and was a sideman at Holy Trinity Church. As chair of trustees of the Old Free Grammar School, he was able to rescue this ancient village building from incipient decay and fit it for the modern age as an important village amenity.

After retirement in 1978 he and Dorothy continued to live in Bolton-le-Sands, Kenneth writing the definitive village history (all typed by Dorothy): ‘From Bodeltone to Bolton-le-Sands’. For many years Kenneth served as chair of Bolton-le-Sands Parish Council, ensuring that the voice of the village was listened to by county.

Among many projects, highlights included the creation of sea erosion defences below Red Bank, car parking facilities on the beach, woodland acquired at Thwaite Brow for community use, and the defence of local footpaths.

Kenneth and Dorothy loved walking locally and in the Dales, remaining inseparable until Dorothy’s death in 2015.

At the age of 99 Kenneth finally gave up independent life in Bolton-le-Sands to move to the house of his son and daughter-in-law in Matlock, Derbyshire.

In 2017 he celebrated his 100th birthday, giving a speech of welcome to friends from Bolton-le-Sands, and family which included grandchildren returning from Canada and Hong Kong, and an increasing number of great-grandchildren.

Blackburn Rovers Football Club, of which he was a life-long supporter, sent a signed shirt which he immediately donned!

In his last months Kenneth became increasingly frail. He passed away at Chesterfield Royal Hospital on November 15, surrounded by close family. He will be hugely missed.

There will be a simple cremation service in Derbyshire, and a memorial service at Bolton-le-Sands in the New Year (date to be announced, all welcome) for the interment of his ashes at Bolton-le-Sands, alongside those of his beloved wife, Dorothy.