Guard of honour for army veteran Fred
VETERANS formed a guard of honour at the funeral of one of their comrades.
Haslingden-based Veterans in Communities (VIC) paid tribute at the funeral of Fred Wellman at Lumb Baptist Church on October 6.
The former ‘Barnardo’s boy’ served in the Dorchester and Dorset Regiments as a regular after joining the Army in 1947, aged 15. He served in Austria, Hong Kong, Germany and Cyprus and gained the rank of Lance Corporal. He wrote a book on his experiences ‘On and Off the Hook’ and is featured in a British Pathe film from 1953.
Fred, of Crawshawbooth, died on September 15 aged 86, spending his last few days at Crawshaw Hall Nursing Home.
Originally an Army bandsman, Fred used to play the drums in the area’s clubs in the 1960s, for acts including Bob Monkhouse, Les Dawson and Diana Dors at the Cavendish in Blackburn. Locally, he also played at the Astoria Ballroom with the Jimmy Heyworth Band and for the famous Water Band.
Fred’s daughter Leah-anne Poole, 43, said her father was a “wonderful person and fantastic father and grandad”, despite a tragic start in life which saw him brought up in a Barnardo’s home from the age of two.
She explained: “His father died on the way to hospital as he was being born.
“Someone shouted to his dad ‘She’s gone into labour’ and he sped off on his push bike and was killed at the end of the street. When he was two his mum put him in Barnardo’s temporarily and couldn’t get him back out. He was 10 when his mum passed away from an ectopic pregnancy.”
Leah-anne said her mum Toni died 10 years ago and the family returned to the Valley in 2008 from Somerset, making a new home on Cribden Lane. Fred, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago, joined VIC’s art group and went on many social trips.
Leah-Anne said: “For two years he was going to VIC three times a week.
“He absolutely loved it and they were fantastic to him. In the last three years of his life we had some fantastic carers. He was poorly but they took him out and they took him to the Veterans in Communities every week. At his funeral they had a guard of honour and all the flags there. I felt so proud.”
Fred leaves daughter Leah-anne, three grandchildren Louis, Jessica and Abigail, and two great-grandchildren Theo and Annabella.
●● Former ‘Barnardo’s Boy’ Fred Wellman joined the Army at 15