Over the last week, my sister and I have been absolutely bowled over by the hundreds of messages of condolence and support from across the town, following the death of Alderman Mitchell last Tuesday. We can’t thank you enough for your kind thoughts.
Much has been written about him both online and here in the Gazette, whose journalists have been chronicling his hundreds of stories since the late 1970s. Indeed last week’s headline ‘Everybody has a story about our Henry’ has become the clarion call of the last few days.
Henry, it would seem, was a one-off when it comes to politicians. As a journalist who has been covering the twists and turns of Town Hall life for getting on for 40 years, it’s rare to find a member, who would appear to have equal number of friends if not more on the opposite side to their own.
This is where Henry won the day with his gentle style of dealing with people, a tactic only a few possess.
On a personal level, I remember a dad who was fun to be with, daft as a brush and always ready to find a lighter side to any dismal day...I learned so much from him. I wish I’d learned more.
We cooked stories up between us, I sometimes showed him how he could get in the news. But often Henry knew the best angle to get Blackpool noticed in the press.
The famous ‘seawater drinking’ stunt of 1983 is continually being replayed by journalists who use it as an example of Henry’s finest hour.
It was typical of a Blackpool showman style that, whilenot everyone’s cup of tea, I quite liked, simply because it was just that.. a Blackpool show. That’s what we do so well.
He fought for what he believed in, yet made few if any enemies along the way.
It’s the story of the Manchester evacuee who arrived in town at the age of eight and became Mayor of Blackpool, and I am so proud of him.
This Friday at St Stephen’s on The Cliffs, Henry gets his final farewell. We start at 2pm. Maybe you’d like to join us? You’d be so very welcome.