Tribute to ‘kind and generous’ Huddersfield man who ‘dedicated time to helping others’

A tribute has been paid to a ‘kind and generous’ Huddersfield man who dedicated time to helping others.

Tony Bowers, who has died aged 77, spent many years working in communities in Huddersfield and the wider West Yorkshire area.

Born in Maidstone, Kent, Tony moved to Huddersfield in 1970 as a mature student to do a teacher training course at the Polytechnic (now the University of Huddersfield), having previously worked in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was radicalised by the brutal reality of the apartheid regime.

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Tony returned from South Africa with a “keen sense of injustice,” says his wife, Ruth, and soon became an advocate for several students in their academic appeals and disciplinary hearings at the Polytechnic. He moved to Slaithwaite, Huddersfield in 1976.

Elected President of the Students’ Union two years running (1973-75) he took a hands on approach to issues affecting students both academically and in terms of student welfare. He supported student sit-ins and led a campaign to have a proper crossing installed on Queensgate.

Tony Bowers of Slaithwaite, Huddersfield

He also took an interest in issues in the town, occasionally going on soup runs with the Cyrenians for those sleeping rough and teaching English to new arrivals from south-east Asia.

After leaving the polytechnic, Tony worked for Age Concern on their Community Programme for a year before joining the Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust in York in 1977 to run a community newspaper project in the Colne Valley. The Colne Valley News ran until 1981, when the title was sold to Huddersfield District Newspapers, who renamed it the Colne Valley Chronicle.

In the 1980s and 90s he worked in and with various community projects and voluntary sector organisations. In 1982, with the help of the Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust, he set up a community advice centre on the Walpole estate in Huddersfield, to draw in resources for the estate and give a voice to the local people. Following this he worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau for many years, initially as a deputy manager in Huddersfield and then in 1988 setting up and managing an extension bureau in Slaithwaite providing a full CAB service to the people of the Colne Valley and surrounding rural areas.

In addition, he was a long-time member of the Catholic Housing Aid Society (CHAS, now part of Fusion Housing) management committee locally and later also nationally. He joined with others in the voluntary sector to develop many new initiatives such as the Council for Voluntary Service and the Law Centre where his knowledge of the voluntary sector, the town, the council and the issues facing people in the area were invaluable.

As a school governor and later chairman of governors at Wilberlee Junior and Infant school, Slaithwaite, he was regarded as incredibly knowledgeable and generous with his time..

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At the end of the 1990s he worked briefly for Leeds Federated Housing Association as a housing benefits officer and then as a homeless project worker for the Halifax and District YMCA before taking up a post in 2001 as a public health development worker with the South Huddersfield Primary Care Trust working on public health issues particularly related to poverty, isolation and access to services.

In his retirement Tony worked with refugees and destitute asylum seekers, first in Sheffield and then in Huddersfield. Work that he continued as long as he was able to.

Ruth told YorkshireLive: “Regarded as a friend and colleague in the search for social justice he touched many lives and did so much good for those who needed an advocate or a friend in difficult times. Above all he is remembered for his commitment and his kindness.”

Tony, who lived in Slaithwaite from 1976 until his death, is survived by his wife Ruth, his brother Jeremy and children Elizabeth, Rachel, Karen, Tassadat and Emilie.

YorkshireLive – Halifax | News