A former Torbay magistrate once described a ‘man of the people’ by a court colleague has died aged 94. Bert Langmead, a retired manager with the Post Office, joined the bench in 1962 and served on it for 26 years. During his last nine years on the bench until he stood down in 1988, Mr Langmead was also chairman on the licensing justices. When Mr Langmead retired from the bench, numerous tributes were paid to him by policemen, solicitors and court officials. Colin Jones, who was clerk to the court at the time, described Mr Langmead as
“A man of the people” and added ”You take with you not only our thanks and respect but our genuine affection and goodwill”.
Retired Torquay estate agent Barney Bettesworth, who served on the Torquay bench from 1975 to 1990, remembers his former colleague as someone who brought a common-sense approach to administering justice.
“He was a very amiable guy who was well balanced and brought a level-headed approach to the bench…I remember him as being very down to earth and someone I respected hugely during my time as a magistrate”.
During his time as licensing chief, Mr Langmead was critical of the drinking culture which was starting to develop among young people in Torbay. He told the Herald Express “Young people today are being conned – there is more to life than just boozing yourself to death”.
Mr Langmead was employed by the old General Post Office for 46 years. He joined in 1932 as a telegraph boy and worked his way up to postal superintendent in Torquay via stints in Teignmouth, Exeter and Paignton. He and his wife Margaret were married for 71 years. They met at the youth club run at Christchurch, Ellacombe in Torquay when he was 13 and his wife to be 11.
Gran and Grandad’s 67th wedding anniversary on my sister’s wedding day in 2007
In the months before the outbreak of World War Two, he enlisted in the Territorial Army and when was was declared was posted to France. Mr Langmead later served in Norway. When British forces were evacuated from Norway, he returned to this country and spent some time with an anti-aircraft duty in Kent. The couple were married in June 1941, in Exeter, and within weeks he was sent to Burma, where he served for the remainder of the war.
Mr Langmead was a regular churchgoer and served on the Cockington-with-Chelston Parochial Church Council. He was a churchwarden at St Matthews Church. Mr and Mrs Langmead have two daughters, Sylvia and Marion, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with a sixth on the way. Daughter Sylvia said her father enjoyed a full life well into his 80s when, inevitably, his pace slowed.
“My father was a man of integrity and a true Torbay gentleman who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him” said Sylvia.
Mr Langmead’s funeral took place yesterday at Christchurch in Ellacombe where he had been a boy chorister more than 80 years ago, followed by a burial service at Torquay Cemetery.
It was my Grandad’s funeral today. At 1pm sharp we walked into the Church where he sang as a boy. The 1pm sharp bit was quite lovely, Grandad was a man of orderliness, you could set your watch by the time him and my Gran sat down for dinner, at 1pm every day. Today it was not a Granny dinner that called us together, but a celebration of Grandad’s life. The Church was busy and lots of people hang around for refreshments afterwards once we’d been up for the burial.
The chat beforehand was that they’d be ‘no piping the eyes today’, a stiff upper lip was attempted by all but managed by few. It wasn’t so much the loss of my Grandad that hurt, he was a lovely man who’d had a full and fabulous life, but seeing my Gran follow his coffin out the Church was lip quivering for the best of us. They met in the Church youth club 80 years ago and had celebrated their 71st Wedding Anniversary last month. The other thought I couldn’t shake, and haven’t been able to shake for the last few weeks, is that this really was some sort of dress rehearsal for Dad. He was joking with the undertaker at the graveside and promised to avoid fat ladies singing for the near future. Here’s hoping.
Goodness and mercy all my life, shall surely follow me. And in God’s house for evermore my dwelling-place shall be.
The last few days Gran hasn’t been very well, I spent an hour with her and Grandad yesterday evening and she was perky, but not herself. Grandad spent the whole time just looking at her, wistfully, worrying but like he was drinking her in with his eyes. They’ve been together since they were children and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last summer, I’m really not sure how one will exist without the other, they’re a complete and utter team.
Early this morning my Auntie and Mum decided that Gran needed to go to hospital, the ambulance was called and a rapid response unit was dispatched. They live down the bottom of a very steep hill (too steep for the ambulance to get down) so Gran was wheeled out of the house, up the hill and into the waiting ambulance on a trolley, and whisked away to A&E. Mum was blown away by the care that Gran (and she) got – Polly and Tom who took her in, the nurses who settled her into a room and cleaned her up, the consultant and doctor who examined her. She had a full MOT, a couple of ECGs, blood tests, x-rays, examinations and was put on a drip. I’ve just been up to see her tonight, she has been admitted onto a ward now, in a side room (the same one that Dad was in a couple years ago), and she looks exhausted but restful. With a bit of luck she’ll be sent home in the next day or two, she hates hospitals and hasn’t been into one except as a visitor since giving birth over sixty years ago! I hope that she makes it home, Mum was telling me that Grandad was distraught when they took her away this morning, sat in his chair crying (I’ve never seen him cry, he’s not of a generation that seems that comfortable with expressing emotion) and I hope for his sake, and her’s, that she get’s home. They’re realistic about their age, they know they won’t last forever, but I really hope she gets home to Grandad just once more.
The point of this post was to say thanks though. I’ve had one bad experience in our local A&E and it’s always at the front of my mind when I hear someone has gone in there. If nothing else the treatment Gran has received today has gone some way to making up for that experience. The staff were really kind to my Gran, looked after her and treated her with respect and dignity. I’m conscious that lots of people complain about the NHS (myself included when needs be) but my family have received more than our fair share of treatment in the last few years and it never ceases to amaze me how awesome a machine the NHS is, when it’s well oiled.
I suspect I couldn’t work in a hospital environment, I couldn’t handle the smells, the stress, the confusion, the desperation, especially in care for older people. I also know I wouldn’t be able to work on an ambulance, never knowing what you’ll turn up for, wishing away the final call of the night shift because you know it’ll eat into your sleep or day off. I am so grateful to each and every NHS worker who chooses to look out for other people, you really do make a massive difference to people’s lives. Thank you.