Bernard Wakefield

Bernard Wakefield died 19th September 2017 age 98 years.

Bernard was the fourth child of Albert and Gertrude Wakefield, of Brookfield Road, Sawston. He had two older sisters, Viv and Kath, one older brother Eric and a younger sister Audrey and brother Phil. Sadly both Audrey and Phil died in the war. He went to the local school and then in 1930 to Sawston Village College, where he was in the very first intake of the newly opened institution.

Following school he was an apprentice instrument maker at the Cambridge instrument Company. Later he worked for Spicer Dufay at Sawston before being called up to the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers. He spent the war years maintaining technical equipment in the Orkney and Shetland islands.

He met his wife Muriel at a college dance in 1938 and they married at Duxford Chapel in 1942. From that time Bernard became a Duxford man.

His new allegiance was first apparent when he joined Duxford United football club. He played on the left wing, where his possession of that rare attribute: a good left  foot, helped secure a regular team place. Unfortunately a serious cartilage injury forced him to retire in 1948. His passion for football, now only as a spectator on television,  continued until the day he died.

In the late forties, the field on Hunts Road that was to become the recreation ground was being prepared and Bernard with many others spent countless Saturdays picking stones for the new playing surface.

Soon after the war, he was recruited to work at the newly formed Duxford Company, Techne Instruments and he worked there until he joined the British Welding Research Association in 1953. He worked on the problems of 'brittle fracture' of steel plates. As a long time enthusiastic photographer, he was instrumental in forming a camera club at the Association. He stayed with BWRA, later the Welding Institute, until his retirement in 1983.

In 1948 he purchased the derelict Maltings in St. Peter's Street from Harold Runham and commenced converting it into a dwelling. A project that took 6 years to complete, involving all his spare time, weekends and holidays.

His interest in local politics and village affairs was much encouraged by Wilfred Parkinson, who had come to Duxford at the end of the war. In 1958  Bernard was elected to the parish Council and in 1975 he was elected chairman a post he held for three years. In 1979 he decided to stand down from the council. He had come to regret the party politicising of village affairs and felt that at 60 he had done all he could. For many years he was a trustee of the Kings charity.

In retirement he and his wife travelled extensively and he devoted more time to his other great passion, gardening.  He downsized to a bungalow in Greenacres, where he was able to maintain a colourful display, albeit with some assistance for the heavier tasks.

His later years were blighted by complications of type 2 diabetes, but he remained positive and optimistic despite the loss of his wife in 2006 and failing eyesight. He continued to live independently, cooking his own meals and running his household, with just the help of a cleaner and regular lifts from friends to Tesco for his shopping. During his final days in hospital he discussed enthusiastically his programme of cultivation of his latest seedlings and the fortunes of the England football team.

Bernard loved his bungalow, his garden and the village. His greatest wish that he would not have to leave them to enter a care home was thankfully fulfilled.

He is survived by his son, Dr Peter Wakefield, three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Bernard Wakefield, born 18th April 1919, died 19th September 2017.