Jeffrey White

Jeffrey White was born March 1921 to Ernest White (leather, shoe trade) and Ada nee Ette (tailoress). Growing up mostly in Wellingborough, other than a time at the Denford pub, with an elder sister Mary. Jeff, as he was known, spoke warmly of his granny Mary Ann (Annie) Ette, “the best Yorkshire pudding maker”. On leaving Victoria school, Jeff worked as a junior reporter before joining Beeby & Cox plumbers and glaziers, where he was apprenticed. In 1940 he was successful in passing first class in the final examinations in plumbers work from the City and guilds of London Institute, department of technology.

Jeff in his tennis whites.

On 25th February 1942 he joined the war effort as an ordinary seaman in the Royal Navy at Torpoint. He moved to MTE Rosyth and returned to HMS Drake as an E.R.A. (engine room artificer) coppersmith. He served in Sicily and North Africa. After the war Jeff went to Australia on HMS Victorious, an aircraft carrier, and returned in August 1946, he was soon released in October 1946, with a green suitcase and “demob suit”.

Back in Wellingborough at the grand age of 25, his mum Ada set about “operation wife”, always making sure Jeff was well turned out for the local dances. Jeff had a group of friends who frequented the Angel Hotel, he also attended the High Street Congregational Church, young men’s meetings. Dances at the Drill Hall, High Street were local and popular.

He met Mavis Richardson at a dance, both good dancers, they soon started going out and married in June 1948 at High Street Congregational Church. They were married for over 50 years.

Like Ernest, his father before him, Jeff was a retained fireman, in 1949 he was certified to have undergone a course and was qualified to use and maintain breathing apparatus. He retired over 30 years later, by then a sub officer, popular and well respected.

Jeff and Mavis settled into married life, their daughter Jane was born in 1958 and a few years later they moved to a new bungalow in Harvey road. The family enjoyed lots of caravan holidays and a tenting trip down to the Black Forest in Germany. Every Christmas was spent with Jeff’s sister Mary, her husband Geoff Fossey and two daughters Janice and Rosemary, there was always lots of food, games, music and laughter. Jeff was working as a partner with Geoff Cox installing central heating, combined with Fire Brigade commitments meant working long hours. However Jeff found time to go fishing, locally and on the Norfolk Broads, with neighbour “Pecker” Freeman and together they became Freemasons – Jeff really valued their many years of friendship.

In the mid seventies the partnership with Geoff Cox was dissolved and Jeff became a maintenance engineer at Isebrook hospital Wellingborough, where Mavis was already working. This move enabled him to have a much better work life balance, with on call and weekend work as part of a rota. Jeff loved being part of a team, he made some good friendships, especially with boss Keith Law and Ron Halfacre, which continued after he retired in the mid 1980s.

By the time Jeff retired, Jane was married to John and the grandchildren Juliet, Jordan and Joe were small, Mavis and Jeff loved to babysit, “Granddad” would have projects and tasks for the children to enjoy. Juliet and Jordan played chess for the Little Harrowden school and Jeff loved to go with them to matches. Jeff would take them all fishing and Mavis would have a lovely meal ready for the hungry anglers, there were also memorable holidays by the sea, including Malta and Spain.

Jeff White was a pragmatic man, extremely capable of turning an idea, into a plan, into reality whether it was wiring a house, building an extension, making bunk beds or a copper kettle whatever the medium, he would turn his hand to many things.

Jeff died of an industrial disease associated with asbestos in 1999 aged 78.

Loved by all his family, gone but never forgotten.

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