Tribute to Ken Brooker

The following tribute was written by Fred Whibley for the April 1983 Parish Magazine

I was a Leigh School with Ken in the early 1920s and he started work at Hall Place as a gardener.  He said that he would have liked to have been a professional gardener but he followed the family trade as a cricket ball maker and in those days it was a father to son trade.  Ken proved to be an excellent tradesman and I have never seen his equal as a cricket ball stitcher.  He soon began to develop his hobbies of singing and many branches of sport.   As a boy, Ken sang in the Church choir and remained a member for 50 years.  He was also with the Leigh Choral Society of which he was a founder member.  He served in the Middle East during the 1939-45 war.

After the war, he worked at Wisden’s at Chiddingstone Causeway and he developed his hobby of singing further with choirs in Tunbridge Wells and he took part in national competitions, in addition to the local choirs and as an excellent tenor, he was much in demand for local entertainment.  He was very versatile and I well remember him taking part in a very spirited interpretation of the Can Can at a village concert in Leigh Village Hall.  One of his favourite singing stories was of the Coronation celebrations on Leigh Green.  It was a cold, wet evening and as he sang the first verse of the National Anthem over the public address system, he was received in absolute silence.  He used to say that he would not have had a more uninterested reception had he been singing in Red Square.  Ken was also a very accomplished punster, an art which is sadly not popular these days.

Playing both cricket and football well, he played for the 1st teams of both games and latterly took charge of young cricketers and coached many players who have played for the club with distinction.

And now Ken Brooker has gone, a quiet, unassuming and modest man and yet there is hardly an organisation in Leigh which will not have a record of some contribution by him over the many years he served the community.