Obituary: Albert Edward (Ted) Clemit

ALBERT Edward Clemit died on December 23 at the age of 82. He had a long and distinguished career of local government service in north Northumberland, Berwick Borough, and, latterly, the eastern Borders. He was first a station master and then a teacher who was widely known and loved.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 19th January 2013, 6:00 am

Ted was born in York and all his life was proud to be a Yorkshireman. He started work at the age of 14 as a lad porter. His railway career was interrupted by National Service, where he served in the army medical corps. He came back to Yorkshire to train as a signalman, and then as a station master.

In 1953 he married his first wife, Violet Rowlands. They moved to Northumberland in 1954 when Ted took up a post as station master at Chathill, then a busy working station on the main line between Newcastle and Berwick. Ted left the railway in the mid-1960s to follow his wife into teaching, and moved with his family to Seahouses.

Ted’s first teaching job was at Mount Road in Tweedmouth; shortly afterwards the school moved to Prior Park. Then he became head teacher at Scremerston First School, enjoying the chance to work with teachers from many other schools as part of the Kyloe Cluster. He stayed at Scremerston until his retirement in 1995.

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His career of public service began in 1978, when he served as clerk to North Sunderland Parish Council for five years. He was first elected to Berwick Borough Council, representing North Sunderland and Seahouses, in 1979. He stood as an Independent, believing firmly that party politics had no place in local government. He served the local community in this capacity for more than 20 years.

For the majority of his service on the council, he held offices of responsibility. As chairman of the housing committee, he guided the authority through a critical transition from a provider of houses to an enabler of housing provision. He was also chairman of the health committee and served on the development, policy and library consultative committee.

In 1986, Ted was elected Deputy Mayor. In 1987 he became Mayor, presiding with dignity and aplomb over a memorable year.

These were difficult years personally. In 1989 Ted’s wife Violet died after a year of illness. He cared for her himself for as long as he could.

In the early 1990s, during a brief period off the council, Ted served as Sheriff to Alex Thomson’s Mayor, thereby becoming one of only a handful of persons to hold the two highest civic offices within the borough. In 2000, Ted retired from the council and became an Honorary Alderman.

Ted served as chairman of Berwick Maltings Trust during the theatre’s first years. Later, he continued his interest and involvement in health matters through membership of the Northumberland Community Health Council.

In 2000, Ted married Anne Waddle. The couple moved over the border to settle at Reston. Here Ted became a member, briefly chairman, and then treasurer, of the Community Council, and an Elder of the Church.

He became a member of the Berwickshire Community Council forum and vice-chairman of its environmental forum, a further indication of his commitment to the well-being of those amongst whom he lived. He also found time to join an art class, and to cultivate his garden. It was a particular pleasure to him to be spending his retirement within sight and sound of the East Coast main line which had dominated his early years.

Ted was a man of principle who had no time for pretension or falsehood. He conducted his affairs quietly, effectively, modestly, and with dignity, and he got things done. Both in his teaching and in his career of civic and community service, he enriched the lives of many people.

On January 3, a Service of Thanksgiving was held at Reston Church. A family tribute was delivered by his son Anthony. Edward Cawthorn, former chief executive of Berwick Borough Council, paid tribute to his career of public service. His daughter Pamela read one of his favourite poems, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, by William Butler Yeats.