TRIBUTES have been paid to Mr Robert Sutcliffe, a tireless volunteer for many Calderdale organisations and much-respected former businessman, who has died after a short illness.
Mr Sutcliffe, aged 71, was diagnosed with liver cancer just a week before he died at home after being unwell for two months.
He was well-known throughout Brighouse for his work as an accountant and through his involvement with numerous organisations and charities including Brighouse Gala, the Halifax and Huddersfield branch of the RSPCA, Brighouse Rotary Club and Lightcliffe and district Local History Society.
He also served as a governor at Hipperholme Grammar School and was treasurer of the former Brighouse Amateurs.
Friends and colleagues have paid tribute to the ‘kind and gentle’ man who gave freely of his time to help causes close to his heart.
Phil Poole, chairman of Brighouse Charity Gala committee, said Mr Sutcliffe was treasurer of the Gala for more than 30 years and could always be relied on for help and support.
“He was the most popular man at open meetings of the Gala committee because he was the person handing out the cheques!” said Mr Poole. “But more than that he was totally dependable and approached each Gala with the same enthusiasm year after year.”
Kath Airey, trustee of the Halifax and Huddersfield branch of the RSPCA, said Mr Sutcliffe made a valuable contribution to the care of animals.
“Robert was a kind and gentle person who was dedicated to the branch. He gave his time willingly to help the animals that came into our care.
“He was involved with the branch for for more than 30 years and became treasurer in 1984, a position he held until his sudden death. He will be greatly missed by his fellow trustees and the volunteers, both locally, regionally and nationally.”
Mr Sutcliffe lived in Syke Lane, Lightcliffe, with his wife Susan, a magistrate on the Calderdale Bench.
The couple have five children - Jane, Paul, Catherine, Helen and Sally - and two grandchildren, Ruby and Billy. The couple’s daughter Helen gave birth to her first child, a boy, earlier this week.
Mrs Sutcliffe said her husband found it impossible to sit still and had numerous hobbies and interests. “He had great enthusiasm for life and that never left him. He was always keen to pursue new interests whether it was furniture-making, wood-turning, gardening or tinkering with his car. He loved his home and he loved his garden.”
In his working life, Mr Sutcliffe was associated for many years with the well-established Brighouse firm of chartered accountants, Kilby Sutcliffe. In the mid-1990s he took over the accountancy firm of B.D. Smith and Co in Brighouse and continued to work there part-time until his illness. He was also a partner in Spencer and Co.
Noelle Brady, a partner at B.D. Smith, said: “You could not have had a better figurehead for the business or a better boss than Robert. He was so well-known in Brighouse and was a friend to everyone who worked with him.”
Friend Mr John Brooke, secretary of Lightcliffe Local History Society and former headteacher at Lightcliffe C of E Primary School, said: “Robert was a man of traditional values - he was always courteous, agreeable and a very pleasant man.
“His children were all pupils at the school and I used to joke that, because he had five of them, he was one of the longest serving parents I knew!”
Another friend, Mr Stephen Nichols, said: “Brighouse has lost one of the nicest, most genuine gentlemen it could have. He never had a bad word for anyone – and no-one had a bad word for him.”
There will be a celebration of Mr Sutcliffe’s life at St Matthew’s Church, Lightcliffe, next Tuesday, August 30, at 2.30pm.