Tributes to former Mayoress of Burnley and active church member

A former Mayoress of Burnley and prominent church figure in the town has died at the age of 90.

Monday, 6th April 2020, 3:56 pm
Updated Monday, 6th April 2020, 4:25 pm
Mrs Isherwood (left) when she served as Mayoress of Burnley

Mrs Sheila Isherwood served as Mayoress to her aunt, Alderman Ada Proctor, who was Mayor of Burnley in 1956-57, and was well-known throughout the town for her active role in the Baptist movement.

Born in 1929 to Frank and Bertha, with older brother, Ken, her early years were spent at Carter Street, Ightenhill. The family later moved to Broughton Street, Whittlefield, two doors away from her Auntie Ada and she went to Hargher Clough School where she was known as a “chatterbox”, always having something to say.

She left school at 14, during the war and went to work in the office at Redman’s Grocers on Gannow Lane. It was here that she met a young motor mechanic called Alan Isherwood, who also worked for Redman’s and who was to become the love of her life.

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Mrs Isherwood

The couple would have three children, Gary, Glen and David, as well as five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Gary said: "Mum was very well-known, particularly for her work with local churches. Faith was an important part of her life. She also served as secretary of the Burnley branch of Save the Children, as she was always keen on helping underprivileged children.

"She was a regular member of Mount Olivet Baptist Church on Plover Street, across road from her auntie’s house.

"The family had to move house in 1973, to another house on Padiham Road, to make way for the building of the M65 motorway. As her children grew up, she found more time to spend with the church. Sheila was baptised and became a deacon at Mount Olivet, and she was the secretary of the Burnley branch of the Save the Children Fund, once meeting the Princess Royal.

"She was passionate about the town and knew a great many people in the district, thanks to her outgoing personality and cheerful demeanour, not to mention the continuing ability to talk to anybody and everybody!

"After the closure of Redman’s, she worked for a chemist, a doctor and for Gardner Merchant, who were caterers for National and Provincial Building Society. On Christmas Day, she was also often cooking for up to ten people at home.

"The family later moved into her auntie’s old house on Plover Street and mum stayed there for the remaining 30 years of her life. The house has been lived in by her family continuously for 127 years!

"Before dad's condition deteriorated, they went abroad for the first time, to Tenerife and finally made it to Canada to see hiss other brother. However, she later became dad’s carer, before his death in 2000 brought to an end 48 years of happily married life.

"She occupied herself with helping out at a stroke club and also, with Mount Olivet having closed, found new interest in the Sion Baptist Church on Church Street.

"She also enjoyed weekly card games at the Community Centre on Middlesex Avenue.

"In the last five years of her life, she fought off many ailments, including shingles, a hernia and cataracts, but kept her wits about her and tackled them all one by one with a fierce determination and celebrated her 90th birthday with all of her family around her.

"She only gave up driving a few weeks ago, but her recent illness finally beat her, though not without a typical fight to the end."

Mrs Isherwood's funeral will be held on April 14th for just close family but her family plan to hold a biggger celebration of her life on her birthday, August 8th.