Birthday greetings for former Mayor Harry, 90

Harry Tootell
Harry Tootell

A former Mayor of Todmorden who has played a full part in the town’s social life has celebrated his 90th birthday.

Family accompanied Harry Tottell and his wife Joy to a special dinner at Wyke, and they are holding an open house for friends to call in and give Harry their best wishes between 2pm and 4.30pm on Saturday, April 25, at the community room at Roomfield House, their home.

Harry was born in Castleton, Rochdale, and after attending St Edward’s Junior School and Castlemere Central School started work at 14 in an ironmonger’s shop in Castleton. Six months later he joined Taylor Brothers engineering works in the town as a turner, and was then an apprentice electrician for the Lancashire Cotton Corporation.

It was while working as an electrician on what was a unique excursion to work over the border in West Yorkshire at Mons Mill, Todmorden, that he met Joy, who was working in the office at the mill They married at Todmorden Parish Church in 1945.

Harry joined the RAF, training on a photographic course, and served for two and a half years before returning to Todmorden and joining the family business of H. J. King, ironmongers, at Church Street, Todmorden, the business later moving to The Strand, Todmorden.

Harry and Joy retired from the business in 1994.

Harry was involved in the scouting movement, first in Castleton and, after moving to Todmorden when the couple married, becoming scout leader of the 20th Calder Valley Scouts, based at Christ Church.

He stayed there until 1967 when he completed a bumper 32 years’ involvement with the scout movement.

In that time they pioneered taking the scouts abroad in the troop’s specially adapted vehicle.

The couple were involved with Todmorden Carnival from its inception and Harry was leader of Todmorden Youth Club for about three years in the early 50s.

He was elected to the former Todmorden Borough Council in 1957 and he and Joy were Mayor and Mayoress in 1965-66.

Following the reorganisation of local councils in 1974 Harry was elected to Calderdale Council for four years.

He still continued on Todmorden Town Council and was also elected to the West Yorkshire County Council for four years.

Harry was a member of Todmorden Chamber of Trade for many years and is a former president of Todmorden Rotary Club and a former member of Todmorden Round Table.

He is also well known for his magic and entertainment performances over the years, leaving many scratching their heads after watching his table magic.

Joy and Harry are and Harry are both former members of Todmorden Town Twinning Association’s management committee, retaining close links with friends they have made through twinning.

Harry was chairman of the group for three years and secretary of the German part of the association for three years.

Last week, via the Todmorden News, friends in Bramsche send birthday greetings to Harry on his landmark day.

The couple were both MC dancers for many years, setting the pace on the dancefloor at venues all over the Calder Valley, including Todmorden Town Hall.

Both members of St Mary’s Church, Harry often sang in the choir.

In terms of hobbies the couple had a motor home for 40 years and drove all over Europe, attracting many admiring glances in Bramsche in the days when motor homes were rarely seen in Germany.

The couple have three children, Ian, Hilary and Susan, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.