Tribute to Colin Middlebrough – a volunteer we could all count on!Published on: 17/01/2020
If you could have chosen anyone to count out all the coins (and often notes) that are donated to Wirral Hospice St John’s via collection boxes distributed all around Wirral, in shops, bars, hairdressers, chemists and a host of other businesses, as well as at bag-packing and other events, you would do well if you could find a former bank auditor!
Until he sadly passed away in 2023 we had that very man. He was Colin Middlebrough.
He volunteered at the hospice for over 10 years and every Wednesday, with a cheery ‘”Good Morning”, he’d greet people in finance, fundraising and other volunteers around the place, with a ready quip or funny anecdote, before bunkering down in a quiet room to start counting.
In the week of his 80th birthday in January 2020 Colin had shared some of his life story with us…
In 1940, Fred and Bessie Middlebrough welcomed baby Colin into the world during an air raid over Liverpool.
Born at Mill Road Maternity Hospital (where there was a tragic bombing in 1941), he spent his formative years in Armley Road, off Priory Road in Anfield, not far from the home of his beloved reds, Liverpool FC.
By age 15 Colin was nurturing his lifelong talent, playing the drums! He’d be bashing the skins and cymbals in the terraced house he was brought up in and he chuckled when he remembered, “I think the old lady next door was deaf so it never bothered her, although I think I may have delighted the other neighbours… they used to throw bricks through the window….. so they could hear me better!”
His 1958 skiffle group, The All Blacks (they were admirers of the New Zealand rugby team), were regulars at the original Cavern Club, winning a competition to be a support act at The Liverpool Empire Theatre for a week.
Colin subsequently worked on the same bill and met many famous artists and groups, The Beatles, Rory Storm, Cliff Richard, Jim Dale of ‘Carry On’ film fame, Ike and Tina Turner’s Ikettes, Queen, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Merseybeats and many more.
(You could say Colin was our MBE – Mersey Beat Expert!)
Here’s Colin pictured with The Kansas City Five (they were six actually) in Liverpool in 1961. Colin is 3rd from the left. Just behind him is Tommy Hughes (we told Tommy’s wife, Angela’s, story here) Bruce McCaskill (in the photo 2nd from right) was Eric Clapton’s road manager and also managed Scottish R&B combo the Average White Band.
The gigging went well but by 1969 he was also looking for something steady. He joined Midland Bank (now HSBC) as a cashier in the days when it was compulsory dark suits, ties and a white shirt. He continued to gig with his covers band, The Jaywalkers, while working his way up at the bank to become a Senior Auditor.
How he also found time for refereeing amateur football matches is a wonder and Colin told a great story of the time he was to referee the Cup Final between Guinness Exports and Littlewood’s Stores in the Liverpool Business Houses Football League in the 1960’s.
Representatives from both of the opposing teams approached him separately before the game… “What I could have earned in Guinness, or a year’s worth of new outfits.” Of course, Colin refereed the game with utmost integrity.
As life went on, there was also time for volunteering. He helped, as treasurer between 1989 and 1994, to establish the Merseyside entertainers’ charity, The Merseycats, which organises events to raise funds for children’s charities in the region.
Through entertainment he became involved with the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and recalls a gig at The Liverpool Empire in the early 90’s in aid of the Roy Castle charity which led to him meeting the late great famous actor, Sir John Mills.
Colin got chatting to Sir John at the after-show get together at the Adelphi Hotel (as you do!). After Lady Mills retired for the evening Sir John asked Colin if he’d like to take a nightcap with him. Assuming there would be a call to the waiter, Colin was surprised, and delighted, when Sir John undid the head of his walking cane to allow him to pour out a ‘tipple’ of brandy, which he kept in the shaft of his cane, “just in case!” Real Class!
Over his ten years plus Colin literally counted tens of thousands of pounds in small change (and often notes too) for Wirral Hospice St John’s.
In 2019 with a group of his good friends from The Wheatsheaf pub in Raby Mere, he led a ‘Movemberesque’ effort which raised around £2,000 for the hospice. The story made the Wirral Globe and, good sport that he is, he also posed with a spoof moustache for us in the photograph here.
Grandad Colin has left three grandsons, Fionn Padraig, who lives in Ireland, and Logan and Aaron who live closer to home, in Wirral.
Colin was our man for all seasons and we’re delighted to have had him on the team.
He will be sadly missed. RIP Colin.
Banner Photo courtesy of Nick Fewings on Unsplash.