Village Vignette‎ > ‎

Wally & Steve Stanforth

 

Walter – (Wally) and Stephen - (Steve) Stanforth.

Albert and Lillian Stanforth were the parents of Wally and Steve. Albert was a World War One veteran and an agricultural worker in and around East Winch all his life, working with horses on the farms.

Albert and Lillian had five children – 2 duaghters and three sons. Walter, generally known as Wally, was the fourth child and Stephen, Steve, the last of the five.

Both Wally and Steve were born at East Winch, Wally on 1st. May 1926 and Steve on 16th. April 1931 and pretty much followed parallel lives.

They both attended the school at East Winch, Wally leaving at age 14.

David Wright tells that when Stephen was a young boy he had a close encounter with death. He and Douglas Arter were messing about in a deep pond adjacent to the chapel in East Winch and got into difficulties. I rather suspect that neither of them could swim. Their shouts for help were heard by Colin Burman who, luckily, happened to be passing and he pulled them out.  When Colin took a wet and bedraggled Stephen back to Grandcourt Farm his mother was not at all amused and Stephen got the rough edge of her tongue, and possibly a smack round the ear (It was allowed in those days!).

From talking to Stephen, family life when they were children was pretty hard and one thing he told me stuck in my mind. If their father had a boiled egg for tea then the children would all watch very carefully because he would favour one with the top of the egg. Otherwise they had bread and dripping or maybe homemade jam. How times change. 

Both followed in their Father’s footsteps and began to work in agriculture until their respective retirements.

Wally played cricket for East Winch, mainly as a batsman, and was quite successful according to Stephen. He and Stephen used to play cricket with me down on Grandcourt farm and it was only when I spoke to Stephen about cricket that I asked if Wally was a left-handed batsman and indeed he was. I asked because, although I am right-handed in everything else, I batted left-handed, so that’s that mystery solved! Stephen told me that the East Winch team was unusual in that about 6-7 of them were left-handers; we liked to be different in East Winch! He was also a darts player, but only socially, at the Carpenters Arms in East Winch and was a keen follower of the King’s Lynn football team – The Linnets.

Stephen first worked at Grandcourt Farm in East Winch for Captain Elwes. The foreman at that time was Walter ('Wibby') Williamson. He moved on to Park Farm at Wormegay and finally to Davidson's at West Bilney from which he retired. He was a tractor driver and I recall that his Fordson tractor was the fastest on the farm. He would take a few of us boys down to the fields near the railway line and when we got to the rutted track through the woods he opened up to full throttle and we were all bounced around in the trailer like ping pong balls - No Health and Safety in those days! Stephen had a remarkable memory for names and addresses, dates and numbers - he could go back years.


On the sporting aspects of his life, Stephen, like his brother Wally, played cricket for East Winch and was in the village team which won the local league in 1955. He was also a darts player at the Carpenters Arms in East Winch and, according to David Wright, he was very nifty with the 'arrows'.

Steve is pictured at middle left in this photograph of the Bowls Club presentation evening - sometime in the 1980s.
Click the photo to see it enlarged.

Judging from the many trophies proudly displayed in his room at Burman House he was also a member of the very successful Carpenters Arms bowls team with trophies from nearly every year between 1979 and 1989 with a couple of individual winner trophies.

In retirement Wally and Steve lived in the family home on Station Road and looked after their father until his death.  Wally was the gardener and Stephen the cook.

Wally took early retirement to look after his father who, having been widowed in January 1967, was becoming increasingly frail. Wally had a passion for gardening and kept a very respectable vegetable patch in their large garden in Station Road, East Winch and they never wanted for vegetables. When Stephen retired, they split their house duties with Stephen doing the cooking and looking after the house and Wally providing the produce.

Wally liked his pint and used to visit the Crown in Gayton, the Crown at Middleton and occasionally pubs in Lynn. He had a very sturdy ‘sit up and beg’ bike and went everywhere on it. Many of us have heard about the East Coast floods on 31 January 1953 when many people died. On that particular night Wally was in Lynn and he recalled wading down London Road with water almost up to his waist carrying his bike on his shoulders.  A lucky escape – both he and the bike survived.

When living on their own at Station Road became too difficult Social Services found them places in Burman House in Terrington St John. Their quality of life improved immeasurably and they were very happy there. It was nice that they were kept together as they had never been separated in their entire lives.

As long as Wally had his can (or 2) of beer a day he was content. One thing I didn’t know about him until the Burman House staff told me, was that he used to sing – mainly war-time or just after the war songs and Millie and I had a chance to hear him when he was in Lynn hospital recently.

Unfortunately Wally suffered from dementia in his later years and had cataracts in both eyes.  He developed a dreamy far-away look whenever I mentioned having an operation. Brother Stephen had had the operation and could read without the aid of spectacles but Wally could not be persuaded. He enjoyed good health whilst in Burman House until May of this year when he developed an infection in his knee which spread to the rest of his body – 6 weeks in hospital, surgery and antibiotics cured him but he needed a hoist to be moved in and out of bed as his leg no longer functioned properly.  This was not available in Burman House so he was re-located to Dove Court in Wisbech – probably the first time he had been out of the County – where unfortunately he developed another infection. The last few weeks of Wally’s life were comfortable and pain free and although his end came unexpectedly, 89 years is not a bad innings. 

Stephen continued to live at Burman House at Terrington St.John until he needed hospital treatment. After a month in hospital, where he contracted both flu and pneumonia which seriously depleted his reserves, he was discharged back to Burman House where he spent his last few days. He died on 18th. February 2018.

Stephen’s funeral was held at All Saints, East Winch on Monday 5th. March 2018.  His body was interred in the churchyard

The family are grateful to the Burman House staff who looked after them well throughout their stay there and especially at the end.

 

The above is taken from Eulogies given by David Tilson at the funeral services for Wally and Steve and is published here with his permission.

Two people from East Winch who helped out when Wally and Stephen became less able were Mick Brown and Simon Conway and I would like to say a public thank you to them for their help. Mick was always on hand to get coal in for them and Simon kept what had become a grassed area in good shape for a long time after they moved to Burman House. Thank you to you both.