The Healy family have lived in Leigh and been very much part of the village for most of the last century, initially as gamekeepers and then as owners of the Healy Brothers Garage. The Historical Society has found out a little about their lives in the village.
Fred Healy arrived from Buckinghamshire in about 1900 to take a gamekeeping job at Hall Place. He met and married Laura, a girl from Penshurst. They set up home in the keeper’s house at Black Hoath where their four boys and a girl, Kath, were born. Sadly, Fred was killed at Ypres in 1917 while serving with the Suffolk Regiment – the only married man from Leigh not to return. He is commemorated in Leigh Church and on the War Memorial.
The family were moved from the keeper’s house to a cottage in Penshurst Park (it no longer exists) from where all the children went to Leigh School.
Lord Hollenden – wanting to help the family of one of the Estate workers – then sent Fred, the eldest boy to Public School and later Fred joined I & R Morley, remaining with them for many years. He married Dorothy and the family lived for a long time in Leigh before eventually moving to Manchester when Fred became chief national fashion buyer for all the Co-op stores. Noel was the only son to follow his father’s occupation. He started gamekeeping at sixteen and worked on several large estates. In 1939 he went to the Canwell Estate in Staffordshire and met Edna, his future wife. In the fifties and sixties, the family, including the children, moved back to Leigh and lived at Park Farm by Cinder Hill, when Noel was head keeper to Lord de L’isle at Penshurst Place and where Edna ran a kennel for dogs. Jack joined the RAF in the mid-1930s. Home on leave from Aden during the war, he met and married Dorothy, a young war widow, whose husband had been killed at Dunkirk, captaining a ship. George was a ‘Desert Rat’, serving at Alamein. He married Jean and their three children were all brought up in Leigh.
In 1947 Jack and George became partners, at first renting, then buying what had been the local Fire Station in Lower Green where they started a garage and taxi business. It became a cornerstone of the village, only being sold in 1975. Linda Healy, now Linda Ball, still works there – a link of over 65 years with the garage.
The whole family have made their various contributions to the village, including George and Jack’s service on the Parish Council. They are survived by ten grandchildren – plus a host of great grandchildren, many of whom still live in the area.
Parish Magazine Article: Sept 2003: by Chris Rowley