LETTER: In praise of Dudley Pickles

IF I can cast my mind back so far, I am fairly sure it was in 1952 when I was nine, going on 10, that I first met Dudley Pickles, when he arrived at St John’s School, Nelson, as my new teacher.

He read “David Copperfield” to us, introduced us to the wonderful world of papier mache, challenged us to produce commemorative Commonwealth scrapbooks and encouraged our dramatic inclinations - improvisation and the importance of projecting the voice!

On reflection, he made quite an impact on me - he was inspirational, and not long ago I told him so. It didn’t half make him splutter. He found it very difficult to accept any expressions of appreciation and affection graciously!

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Despite all his quirky ways and summer shorts, he had an enthusiasm for life and an interest in people from all walks of life. He had a remarkable memory and knowledge. He was actively involved in so many things. He was organised, methodical and liked to be in charge.

He wasn’t one to hold back. He was gregarious, garrulous and sociable. I admired his energy and enthusiasm and especially his loyalty. He was exceptionally kind, thoughtful and compassionate and throughout his life he has upheld his high standards in his conduct, courtesy and attention to detail.

People knew him from the Thompson Centre, the library or the fish queue on Nelson market. For many years, I would see him at the Burnley College Theatre during Highcliffe productions, meeting and greeting our audiences as front of house manager - always immaculately turned out.

More recently, Dudley and I found ourselves as fellow passengers on a trip to Ireland. Etched on our memory of that trip was the death of the Pope and the sight of a rugby team streaking through Dublin on a Sunday morning. We journeyed comfortably by coach to London on another occasion, sharing each other’s company and reminiscing about people we knew, past and present. He spoke with such humility of the kindness of people around him and for once allowed me to have my say and I reminded him of the kindness he had always shown to others.

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Dudley was larger than life, unwittingly inappropriate at times, a prickly “one off”. He has left so many people with so many memories and lasting impressions. He attended my 60th birthday celebrations (a while ago) and on arrival asked; “Now Anne, who am I likely to know here?”

I replied: “Everyone, Dudley, everyone by the time you leave”.

And when he arrives at wherever his spirit may go, who is he likely to know?

Everyone, Dudley, everyone.


Blackburn Road, Padiham

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