Tributes to Military Cross world war hero
TRIBUTES have been paid to a Second World War hero who selflessly put his life in danger to rescue his surrounded comrades.
Colonel Geoffrey Sparrow’s Rifle Brigade platoon came under fire while fighting near the Italian village of Faella in 1944.
The daring infantryman went behind enemy lines and neutralised a slew of deadly booby traps. Alone and under fire, he then bravely defused yet more explosives to rescue a badly-wounded fellow serviceman.
Col Sparrow, who died peacefully at his home in Birtles aged 91, was awarded the Military Cross for his feat.
After the war he went on to be a Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire in 1972 and a High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1969.
Col Sparrow, who was educated at Eton and grew up at the Hall in Birtles, is survived by his wife Bets, his three sons – Randle, Piers and Justin – and two grandchildren.
Bets, who lives in Birtles, said: “He was a real English gentlemen of the highest order. He was outstandingly kind and courteous. Many have said to me that they thought he was the loveliest gentlemen in the county. He was very self effacing, he never pushed himself forward and was gracious and appreciative. He loved Birtles, Cheshire and his church.”
After the war Col Sparrow went on to work at his family’s firm Sparrow Hardwick, which was in the cotton trade.
In later life he took a very keen interest in community groups, including the Cheshire Yeomanry, becoming honorary colonel, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the YMCA.
Bets added: “He was very interested in preserving the green belt and in particular hedges and would campaign for people not to be able to dig them up. He loved Cheshire and St Catherine Church in Birtles. He also was a great gardener, he grew many different vegetables, especially potatoes, and all sorts of flowers and fauna. He was a country man through and through, and also enjoyed fishing, shooting and sports.”
Alex Wilbraham, a close come and enjoy it with us.” The garden can be accessed through fields so visitors mush contact the couple before attending.
The garden is open today (Wednesday) at 7pm and on Friday, August 22, at 6.30pm.
Visitors should meet opposite the Hollin Hall Hotel in Kerridge.
Email pandg@uwclub. friend of Col Sparrow, also paid tribute to him.
He said: “Geoffrey was a man who put other people first. For him this was no platitude: it meant clearing a path through a minefield under fire so his soldiers could cross and re crossing it again with wounded; it meant going for years without a pay rise because, as MD of the family firm, he wanted his workers to keep their jobs.
“The values Geoffrey believed in, and practised, stemmed from a deep love of his country and his countrymen – and it showed. Geoffrey was also fair and knew how to listen.
“He not only fought for his country on the battlefields of Italy but, for the rest of his life, fought on to protect all he believed was most precious in it.
“They should have made more Geoffreys – we have lost the only one.”
A service of celebration to commemorate Col Sparrow’s life will take place at 2pm on Friday, September 26, at St Mary’s church, Nether Alderley. Donations in his name may be made to CPRE and The Cheshire Yeomanry. For more information, call 01625 433853. net or phone 01625 572445 to attend. Entry costs £3 and there is tea/ coffee for £1, cake £1.50 and wine £2. ●» ORGANISERS of the Bollington 10k run are calling for more people to take part.
So far the event on August 24 will involve 230 runners.
But there is space for up to 600.
The run will set off from the leisure centre and head north towards Pott Shrigley. It will then go west along Brookledge Lane and south Middlewood Way to the finish at the leisure centre.
The run is organised by Bollington Health and Leisure, a not for profit gym. To take part in the run you can sign up on the day at 9am.
●» Col Geoffrey Sparrow had a keen interest in community groups and, inset, he served on the Rifle Brigade platoon in the Second World War