Brian Bennett obituary
My grandfather Brian Bennett, who has died aged 84, was an old-fashioned socialist. His socialism was built not on books and theories, but on the sacrifices and struggle of making a better life for his family. Growing up hungry was something that he carried with him for life, whether in never letting anybody in his company leave a crumb on their plate or giving anyone who needed it a lift home, a hot meal or the last tenner in his wallet.
All his life Brian lived within a few miles of Atherton, where he was born into the dire poverty of a Lancashire mining village in the 1930s. Even by the standards of the time, his childhood was not an easy one. His mother, Nancy (nee Farrimond), died when he was seven, and rheumatic fever almost killed him before he reached his teens. But it was that illness that saved Brian from following his father, Tom, and his brothers, Tom and Jack, down the pit when he left the local school. Instead, he got a job with the Royal London, cycling round the small towns and villages that had grown out of the coalfields between Bolton and Leigh collecting insurance premiums.
Brian met Margaret Lambert when she was working in the offices of Lancashire United Transport. They married in 1961 and moved into a two-up two-down in Atherton. It was their hard graft – with Margaret taking office jobs doing payroll – that sent their children, Dawn and Martin, off to university, later followed by their grandchildren.
An infectious sense of humour and a warmth filled every room that Brian entered. He played the lottery each week but lived as though he already had the winning ticket in his pocket, walking down the street with a twinkle in his eye, whistling a tune and cracking jokes. He taught us that life is always better outside with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair; that there is no day that cannot be improved by a cup of tea and a long walk; that an afternoon whiled away at the cricket is the height of human progress. He worked to live and took early retirement at 60 to dedicate his later years to his family, becoming a father figure to me and my sisters, Alice and Clare, after our own father left.
Brian’s life’s work was marked by the quiet dignity and daily declaration of love that is the building of a life for your family and then being able to share it with them and watch them enjoy it.
He is survived by Margaret, Dawn and Martin, and his five grandchildren, Alice, Clare, James, Olivia and me.