Tributes paid to 'brilliant' Barking volunteer with a gift for storytelling
PUBLISHED: 09:54 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:50 23 April 2019
A former Gas Board meter reader and 'brilliant' charity volunteer has passed away at the age of 94.
Sidney Westbrook who lived on the Leftley Estate died peacefully at King George Hospital following a short illness which claimed the life of a man recognised for his service to the people of Barking.
Friend, Eric Feasey, said: “Sid was a jolly man. He was kind and generous to all.
“He was the most helpful guy who it was a pleasure to know.
“We have lost a brilliant volunteer and team leader who was willing to give up his time for people in the community as and when required.”
Sidney, the youngest of six siblings, was was honoured for his service to Barking with the Sydney Russell Memorial Award in 2016.
Married to Edna, who passed away in 2007, and stepfather to Joan, Sidney spent his career working for the Gas Board and at Beckton Gas Works before joining the Friends of Barking Hospital as a volunteer in 1987.
He joined at first to help the well-known Barking businessman, Cyril Worricker, run the plant stall at fêtes raising money for the hospital but when the toy shop owner died, he took over the stall and organised the jumble sale.
When the hospital closed, Sidney also supplied the various cafeterias run by the friends.
Eric said: “He worked tirelessly and continuously up until a week before he was taken from us.
“The Friends owe him a debt of gratitude for his dedication and hard work. If ever there was a person who could be called a “happy soul”, it was Sid.”
Sidney lost his brother-in-law during the Second World War, becoming a surrogate father to his two nephews when he was just a teenager. He went on to join the navy even though he could't swim.
A sports fan who coached football teams in the borough, as well as a keen photographer, Sidney recorded Barking Hospital's demolition hoping one day to pass on his record to Valence House archives.
Sid was known especially for his stories, entertaining friends and family with, among others, tales of his father playing for Milwall.
He was even interviewed for the Eastbury Treasured Memories project which saw memories of Barking from its older residents added to the borough's archives.
And he contributed to the Layers of London project, a map-based history from the Institute of Historical Research.
Sidney Westbrook, born in 1924, died on April 2, 2019.