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FUNERALS: Looking back at my 2011 journal, to my great sorrow I find I have attended 46 funerals, or ‘celebrations of life’ as more and more the services are being called. I suppose it is a function of my age that so many friends from my school, sport, or political days are passing away, but 46, oh dear. This week I have two funerals to attend, David, a younger cousin in Burley-in-Wharfedale, and Rachel, the nurse who saved my life two years ago. I was honoured to be invited to speak at both.

SANDAL RUGBY: The second half of the season started with a close victory over in Cheshire, the four points gained cementing our mid-table position. Tomorrow Penrith from far away in the north arrive at Milnthorpe Green, kick-off 2.15pm. This club always brings back memories when after a general election battle with my good friend Walter, I was invited to attend a selection meeting to succeed another friend, Willie Whitelaw. How different my life would have been had I not resolved to stay and fight again in my home town?

DR COLIN BELL: Belatedly I report the death of this great rugby player, who after leaving QEGS went on to play for Oxford University, the Army and Sandal RU before signing for Wakefield Trinity in 1953. I saw him play many times (he made 102 appearances and scored 38 tries for the first team). After playing in the team that won the Yorkshire Challenge Cup in 1956, he finished the season before retiring to concentrate on his work as a doctor. Colin died before Christmas, although he had retired from the Wombwell practice some years ago, his son Dr Alan Bell, the Olympic athlete continues to care for his father’s patients.

WHEELED BINS: I wonder how many Sandal residents noticed collection say for paper switched to Monday? Just a ‘one off’ – back to our regular Tuesday collection from now on.

BRUSH WITH DEATH: Many people having read of the way in which nurse Rachel saved my life two years ago have whether I have had other ‘escapes’? The simple answer is of course, yes, perhaps the first being the time when aged 17, I collapsed on a football field. The doctor diagnosed a gastric problem and told me to keep warm. Late on Saturday night I told my mother “the pain has gone”. Mum being smart, immediately called an ambulance and within the hour, my burst appendix was removed at Pinderfields.