George and Valerie Hooke were much loved by their children (of whom I am one), their grandchildren and their great grandchildren, but they were also much loved as a father and mother to many more people who received love and care from them and hospitality at the family home, 26 Rossall Road, Ansdell.
Click on the photo to see the original plans for the property,
They moved to Ansdell in 1959 when George was offered a new job at BAe in Warton, then English Electric and shortly to become BAC. They already had a family of four children comprising two sets of twins, my sister Kath and I (Graham) aged 5, and Wendy and Andrew aged 1. They obviously needed a large house and 26 Rossall fitted the bill perfectly being one of the largest semi-detached houses on Rossall Road and comprising three reception rooms and five bedrooms. It required a lot of work which George set to with typical energy and enthusiasm, pulling up floor boards and crawling about underneath the house and up in the loft as he rewired the whole building. The coal fires remained for some years into the 1960s and Kathy and I, as the older children, had to take our turn filling the coal skuttle and bringing in the coal from an outhouse. Eventually, coal was replaced with oil fired central heating. Gradually, 26 Rossall became the much loved home and centre of Hooke family life for 60 years.
George & Val, who had come to a significant and profound Christian faith in the late 40s/early 50s, quickly settled in the local Baptist Church just 150 yards down the road. Ansdell Baptist Church (much later to become the Well Church) was led by the minister, Mr Harry Clements, who lived at the church manse, just across Buckingham Road at 24 Rossall. He was elderly, as was his successor Mr Amos Suter. He was, in turn, followed by Mr Bill Whyte who had teenage children. Then, in the 1970s, the church appointed he youngest minister in their history: Nigel Wright and his wife Judy, newly qualified from Spurgeons Bible College. Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s into the 90s, and indeed to this day, the church thrived and grew with George & Val and their home very much at the heart of everything. That story will have to be told elsewhere.
The two sets of twins, were joined in 1964 by our young brother Richard, rumbunctuous and more than making up in high energy and noise for the the fact that he didn't have a twin! While the rest of the family eventually moved away from the area, Rick and his family have remained in Ansdell where Rick has since joined the leadership team at the Well Church as one of the pastors.
All good things come to an end and so it was that, in September 2015, George died after battling Parkinsons for many years. Valerie gained a new lease of life for a little while. She had become quite exhausted at 90 years of age having been George's main carer for some years and now that burden was lifted. But, of course, the loss of her beloved George was a heavy burden to bear, small compensatipn being that she had a large family who loved to come and visit whenever possible. Valerie died in January 2018 marking the end of an era for our family. There remained the task of selling 26 Rossall but only after it had been emptied of the contents of 60 years of multifarious living and my father's hoarding instincts - a family trait I must also admit to! Regular visits by member of the family gradually made inroads into the countless files, documents, nick nacks, furniture, and all kinds of stuff stored just in case it might be needed but never was: all that goes to represent a large family's history. It was, in some ways, a special time for us, as we came together as family and relived many memories, but it was also a quite emotional and sad few months as we adjusted to the loss of all that had meant so much to us for so long. It was hard to believe that it had finally come to an end.
The house was finally ready for sale by December 2018 but my penultimate visit to our family home was tinged with unexpected pain as I suffered a heart attack on that December day just following my 65th birthday, and I departed the home in an ambulance to Blackpool Victoria where they saved my life.
The sale of the house was completed in January 2019, 60 years after the Hookes moved in. The old house today bears no resemblance to the place we knew as home as the new owners have their own vision for the property and have transformed it inside and out. We hope that they will enjoy creating and cherishing many precious memories in this very special place, just as we did.
George and Valerie's individual stories were told in Powerpoints produced, first for Valerie's 90th birthday and then subsequently for their funerals. You can scroll through these slides containing hundreds of photos dating right back to their childhoods in the 1920s. There are links to each powerpoint on the following pages: