Ronald David Sheldrake 1st March 1933 – 11th October 2010
From the Parish News – December 2010
A large congregation gathered at Denton's St. Mary's Church for the funeral of Ronnie Sheldrake, which was led by the Rev Anthony Hindley. Sadly it was only quite recently we reported the demise of his brothers Stanley and Lenny, and Ronnie was the last surviving member of this very reputable Denton family who still lived in the village.
Ronnie was born to George and Edith Sheldrake while they lived in a cottage on the site of the former council houses on Upland Terrace. The family moved to houses no's 1 and 2 Trunch Hill when Ronnie was three years old. He was one of eleven children and the large family needed the accommodation of the two adjacent houses - he lived in No.2 for the rest of his life. Tragically Edith died when Ronnie was eleven years old, leaving his father to bring up the large family, with the help of his older daughters. This was no easy task, especially in those days when there were no modern facilities - all the water had to be pumped by hand from a nearby well, no modern sanitation or electricity meant lighting was by oil, gas or candles, and cooking had to be done in a wall oven and water heated in a copper.
The children went to Denton school and left at 14 years old; at this time Denton had a number of evacuees in the village which overcrowded the school so some lessons had to be taken in the Village Hall. All the boys of the family started work on the land, while still at school they would spend many spare hours at local farms helping with the horse drawn equipment, chain harrowing, horse hoeing sugar beet, and of course helping in the harvest when the "Hold ye" boys were an important part of the harvest team, driving the horses and wagons from shock to shock while loading the sheaves of corn, and then to the stack to be unloaded. Apart from a two year spell doing National Service, Ronnie worked on the land all his life until the last few years before retirement, when he worked at the Howard Rotovator factory in Harleston until it closed.
In 1972 Ronnie married Glenys at Diss Registry Office. They met at the Mayfair Cinema in Bungay which they frequented regularly as "that was the only thing to do in Bungay in those days!" They did however cycle around a lot, enjoyed a game of Bingo in Lowestoft and the odd drink at Earsham Buck. Glenys worked for 30 years at Clay's printing works collating the books prior to binding. Their only daughter Sandra was born in April 1973, went to school in Denton, Alburgh and Diss High before going to teacher training college in Bognor Regis. She is now head-teacher at a school in Kent.
Ronnie was always happy to help anyone who was in need, especially if it was to do with gardening, or a mechanical job such as renovating garden machinery which he enjoyed. He spent quite a lot of time with George Pointer in his workshop; one of the products of their enterprise were the gates at St. Mary's Church at the far end of the car park.
In later years he and his great friend Ivan Talbot could be seen far and wide as they cycled around the lanes, but sadly they both had to give this up as their health deteriorated. His last outings were in an electric wheelchair given to him by his brother Lenny's family and escorted by his brother Richard. He died peacefully after three weeks in the Norfolk and Norwich hospital where he had been treated for a tumour on the kidneys.