Tributes paid to club founder member

Anniversary couple Charles and Nellie Smith.
Anniversary couple Charles and Nellie Smith.

A MUCH-loved founder member and trustee of a social club who made friends at the bar for more than 60 years has died aged 94.

Charles Smith was part of the NALGO Club, in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, since it opened in 1948 and served time as a committee member and on the club’s cribbage team.

The keen cricketer was still a regular up until mid-December when he became unwell.

He died from cancer on February 5 at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Charles, who was also a member of several clubs and societies, was due to be cremated today after a funeral at 11.10am in Hart Parish Church.

His son, Les, 62, who now lives in Chesterfield, said: “We have received more than 60 cards and the word that comes up most in them is ‘gentleman’.

“He was from the old school, always bringing a smile to people’s faces and having a story for all occasions.

“He loved being around people. He was never happier than when he was in a crowd. That’s what he enjoyed most in life rather than the material things.

“You can see that in the NALGO Club. He was there from the very start and was still going more than 60 years later.”

Charles, who is also dad to Mike, 65, featured in the Mail last November when he celebrated his platinum anniversary with wife Nellie, 91.

They shared 70 years of married life after meeting back in 1934 and had a big party to mark the occasion at Hartfields Retirement Village, where they lived together.

Nellie, who is the last surviving founder member of the NALGO Club, said: “People always said that if an alien landed and stopped half a dozen people in Hartlepool one of them would tell you where Charles lived. That’s the sort of man he was.

“He loved singing and knew every word to the 1930s songs and loved jokes. He would make a joke out of anything.”

Charles went to junior school in Avenue Road and Elwick Road and on to West Hartlepool Secondary School, where he was awarded colours in football, cricket and rugby.

He went on to serve in the Royal Pioneer Corps as an orderly sergeant during the Second World War.

He worked as a chief clerk in the town before moving into social care after studying at Leeds University. He retired in 1976 as the assistant director of social services.

He was also a member of Durham Cricket Club, and a regular at Hartlepool Cricket Club’s Park

Drive clubhouse.

Charles, who was also keen on amateur dramatics, walking, dancing and going to church, held several positions with the Hartlepool Retired Men’s Forum and the West Hartlepool Grammar School Old Boys’ Association while also being a member of Hartlepool Music Society.

His long-standing friend, retired school teacher Vic Branfoot, 63, from Hutton Avenue, added: “He will be chiefly remembered for what he put back by the way of service he gave to so many organisations.

“Charles had strong opinions about what was right and wrong but he always expressed himself with unfailing courtesy.

“However, his prime concern was for his much-loved family and his wide circle of friends.”

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