Tributes paid to Pontefract community stalwart Ken McRitchie
Tributes have been paid to Ken McRitchie, a stalwart of the local community and much-loved member of the Pontefract Labour Party who died of Covid on November 11, aged 75.
Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper said: “Ken was a true local hero and a good friend who did amazing work raising money for veterans including Help for Heroes, the British Legion and Forgotten Heroes.
"He was one of the kindest people you could ever meet, caring and working so hard for the local community.
"He was also a real Labour champion, at the heart of our local party - campaigning in Pontefract, cooking burgers and sandwiches to keep everyone going, and bringing the tinsel and Santa hats to give out mince pies and Christmas cheer.
"We lost him on Armistice Day - a time of year when he was always so busy helping others. We will miss him very much.”
Ms Cooper's sentiments were echoed by Pontefract South councillor David Jones, who added: "Ken was always willing to be out there supporting the local community and he was never afraid to get involved in anything that needed doing.
"On election day he will be greatly missed. People used to travel for miles to sample his curries and all-day breakfasts."
Former prime minister Gordon Brown and his Wife Sarah sent their condolences and said: "We enjoyed meeting him and know what a great local campaigner he was."
Mr McRitchie was born in South Shields into the Arab community as his grandfather was a Yemeni Arab. There was much racial abuse in his childhood and he left home at 15. One story is that he used to rent a horse and cart and collect scrap metal which he sold but often went back at night and stole it back. He then went to work on the docks as a chef on the tug boats.
Mr McRitchie joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Worksop. He went to a social in Reading where he met Cristine Ann Marran. They married in 1990 and came to live in the Pontefract area. They had twin daughters in 1991, Zara and Rebecca, followed by a son Jacob in 1998.
Mr and Mrs McRitchie used to paint poppies in red and green glitter for the Ackworth and Pontefract branch of the RBL, joining with church members each Thursday morning well in advance of Remembrance Day.
Mrs McRitchie said: "Ken loved doing charity work. He did his best to help people from all walks of life. He'd give his last penny if he could."
The funeral will be held on December 6 at Pontefract chapel on Park Villas Drive at 11.45am followed by burial at the Skinner Lane Cemetery.