Harry Thacker

Harry Thacker

Harry Thacker was born on 12thDecember 1918 the youngest of five children of William Forrest and Elizabeth Thacker at 20 Blackburn Road, Haslingden, Lancashire.  He attended Haslingden Grammar School from 1929 to 1934 and left with an Oxford School Certificate including a Distinction in Social and Economic History.

His Father became Mayor of Haslingden in 1936-37 and had the privilege of proclaiming two sovereigns of the realm- King Edward VIII ang King George VI. 

Harry’s interest in the history of the Poor Law from 1603 to the present day led him to take the post of Junior Clerk in the office of the Haslingden Guardians of The Poor.  In passing the exams of the Poor Law Examinations Board in 1940 he achieved First Place in England and Wales and was awarded the Gold Medal.

Harry was due to join-up in the Bevin Boys call-up in 1939 but was given a deferment to finish his exams.  He joined The Durham Light Infantry on 10thJune 1940 and saw service in Holywood Barracks in Belfast, in Walsall and Anglesey and later in Belgium.  After two years in the infantry he was sent for training in the new field of Radio Location and then Radar at its inception.  First in the Ordinance Corps and then in the newly formed R.E.M.E. where he became a Warrant Officer.   

He married Rachel Heap on 21st February 1942 whist continuing his army career.  Their daughter Barbara was born in 1943.

Harry served until June 1946 then returned to his Poor Law profession serving as Senior Welfare Officer with the Lancashire County Council at Kirkham, Wigan, and then Birkenhead County Borough Council and was then appointed Chief Welfare Officer in the City of Liverpool from 1958 to 1970. 

He had seen the end of Poor Law in 1948 and the end of Welfare Services in 1970 when he became the first person to be appointed Director of Social Services in England and Wales – in the City of Leicester from which he retired in 1974 when Leicester was taken over by Leicestershire County Council under new legislation.

Harry spent a lot of his life getting rid or the old institutional buildings of the Poor Law, replacing them with modern old- peoples care homes.

After he retired he became chairman of Age Concern Leicester which he served for 13 years until 1987.  During this time he set up a Day Centre for the Elderly in Leicester – Clarence House.   

After the death of his first wife due to cancer in 1987 he moved to Yorkshire to be near his daughter.  He then married Mary Cliff of Bramhope and in 1989 they set up home in Harrogate where they both became closely involved with Trinity Methodist Church.

Running alongside Harry’s career was a very important part of his life.  After being heavily involved within Sunday School and Youth Club work, he trained to become a Methodist Local Preacher and served from 1950 to 2003 when he was 85 years old.  He was very concerned during these 53 years that his message should be kept up to date by constant reading and attending conferences on Science and Christian Faith  – he continued his reading up to and beyond his 90thbirthday. 

Harry believed that there was no conflict between science and religion.

A stalwart member of Harlow Men’s Forum and a fine man.                                                                                                   George Mountford  






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