Denton a village in South Norfolk, England

Stanley and Leonard Sheldrake 1904/1912 to 2009

From the Parish News – April 2010

The Sheldrakes are one of the old native families of Denton They were a family of eleven children whose mother died at a comparatively young age in childbirth leaving the older sisters to help father care for the younger members; this forged a deep bond between them. They lived for several years in a house in Upland Terrace before moving into the newly built Norwich Road Council Houses where Ronnie and Glynis live to this day. Although most of the family gradually moved away, their link with Denton has never been broken especially as Ernie, Ronnie and for many years Dorothy (Mayhew) continued to reside here during their married life. Whenever an occasion arose to have a family get-together the reminiscences of their childhood and youth in Denton always prevailed in the conversation.

Sadly 2009 saw the demise of both Stanley and Leonard aged ninety-five and eighty-seven respectively; both had been stalwarts of the agricultural work force in their younger days, and both upheld the family tradition of being hard and loyal workers. Stanley could recall when a child living in the "Black Cottages" in Darrow Green Road watching the Rl00 airship drifting off after it had broken its moorings at Pulham Airfield. He worked for several years at Gawdy Hall and told of his acquaintance with Ben Burgess in his early days of founding the now famous firm, who would always make a point of having a chat with him when calling at the farm.

Lenny changed from farm work to lorry driving for 25 years, latterly for Earsham Mill, mostly hard manual work carrying and loading sacks of corn and feed; no H & S weight restrictions in those days! He enjoyed mechanics, working with cars in his spare time, much of which was spent looking after and polishing his own cars which were his pride and joy, unfortunately usually rather old models, spending almost as much time underneath them as driving them! His great passion was his vegetable garden which he worked on until almost the last days of his life, sharing any surplus produce with his friends and neighbours. A new advent in his life came however with the birth six years ago of his grand daughter Connie. He had the time then to enjoy and spoil her which he could never do when his own children were small. He was a home loving person, caring and providing for 64 years of marriage to his wife Ellen and four children Kay, Margaret, Mark and Andrew.

Lenny and Stanley finished their working life together in the Steel Store at Howard Rotovators factory in Harleston. They were true country men with simple needs and skills of a bygone age that are fast disappearing, who had a deep sense of pride in all they undertook.

In later years he and his great friend Ivan Talbot could be seen far and wide as they cycled around the lanes, but sadly they both had to give this up as their health deteriorated. His last outings were in an electric wheelchair given to him by his brother Lenny's family and escorted by his brother Richard. He died peacefully after three weeks in the Norfolk and Norwich hospital where he had been treated for a tumour on the kidneys.

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