JOHN Frederick Dickinson was a distinguished Feoffee of the Common Lands of Rotherham – the town’s oldest charity, being created many years before the Rotherham Charter of 1584. He was, indeed, the third generation of his family to serve the town in this way, following both his father and grandfather before him. He served as Greave, the annual leader of the charity, on two occasions in 1988 and 1994.
John’s work for the Common Lands of Rotherham was particularly noteworthy and worthwhile in many regards. In 1992, John Dickinson and a notable local accountant, Peter Allott, were instrumental in planning the first meeting of a small subgroup “to project the image of the Feoffees”. Sadly, Peter Allott died shortly afterwards but John maintained the impetus of this valuable initiative.
In 2002 John also proposed the creation of a new active fundraising subcommittee which met for the first time in his office at the Rotherham Advertiser on Fitzwilliam Road. This led to the launch of a new Feoffee Education Fund with monthly personal contributions from Feoffees. Over the years this has grown steadily such that several annual scholarships for local students are able to be funded.
In many years recently the Common Lands Charity has been a very public sponsor of the Rotherham Advertiser Annual Apprentice Awards. This was greatly facilitated by John’s generosity in arranging for a dormant family trust which had been started by his grandfather – “Boots for Bairns” – to transfer funds to the Feoffees. Successive Greaves were always proud to represent the Feoffees at the annual awards ceremonies.
In modern times, John and colleagues from the Rotherham Advertiser played a crucial role in assisting the charity with the transition into the 21st century. Several valuable sessions occurred in the Dearne Valley, the current home of Garnett Dickinson, where the creation of the first ever publicity pamphlet was discussed at length.
Eventually, with much help from John and his experienced team the pamphlet was created and printed and several thousand copies have now been distributed around Rotherham in many public locations.
Further work enabled the creation of the first Common Lands of Rotherham Feoffees website. After many centuries of good work in the local community people are now readily able to access updated news and projects as well as support the charity and be aware of current plans on a daily basis.
John Frederick Dickinson’s many years of service as a Feoffee of the Common Lands of Rotherham have truly been a period of remarkable and valuable personal and financial contribution.
The town and its oldest charity is in a much better position than hitherto and John has been a valuable and constructive participant.
His passing is greatly mourned in the continuing appreciation of the significant part that John has played in the improvement of the charity.
The Feoffees of the Common Lands of Rotherham