A SUEZ veteran from York who became a tireless fundraiser for the RAF Association has died, aged 80.
Ken Whitfield, who was president of the association’s York branch, ran its city centre club bar for more than 50 years and raised thousands of pounds to help support RAF families who had fallen on hard times.
Current club chair Sue Richmond said he had been chairman of the club on three separate occasions. “He would do anything to help anyone,” she said. “He was highly respected and will be much missed.”
Branch vice-president Ray Kidd said: “He was a hugely impressive individual, always willing to volunteer in any way to help the club. As a voluntary organisation, we rely on individuals to step up to help, and Ken did that.”
Mr Whitfield worked as maintenance ground crew during the Suez emergency in Egypt and received a medal in recognition of his service in 2003.
His son David said he had been York through and through, serving as an altar boy at St Wilfrid’s, attending St George’s School in Walmgate and landing his first job as an office boy at Foster and Scott, an accountancy firm in High Petergate, before working at William Rowntree’s department store in Coney Street and Lendal.
He worked at Meara’s carpet shop in Stonegate for more than 30 years, first as an employee before taking over the business when the last Meara family member retired.
He married Rina after meeting her at a dance in the Assembly Rooms, and the couple had two children, Jacqueline and David.
The family lived in Grosvenor Terrace, where Mr and Mrs Whitfield played an active role in the local residents’ association.
Mr Whitfield was involved in charitable work as a freemason and member of the city’s Agricola Lodge, where he also served a term as master.
Fellow freemason John Mawson said: “Ken’s contribution to charity fund-raising in the city cannot be underestimated – not only with the RAF Association but also with the freemasons – he will have helped countless families.”
Mr Whitfield’s funeral will take place at St Wilfrid’s Church in Duncombe Place at 10am on Wednesday.