Blue plaque honour at Parkgate for youth service stalwart

The plaque at ParkgateThe plaque at Parkgate
The plaque at Parkgate
A RESPECTED youth worker said to have inspired thousands of children has been remembered with a blue plaque.

Rotherham District Civic Society has recognised the efforts of Albert Sykes, who gave 40 years’ service in Parkgate and Rawmarsh.

The tribute – on Parkgate’s old miners’ welfare institute – was unveiled by his daughter Janet Heath and Tony Dodsworth, chairman of the Rawmarsh & Parkgate Local History Group.

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Albert’s two sons Darryl and Geoffrey were also present at the unveiling.

Janet and Tony unveiling the plaqueJanet and Tony unveiling the plaque
Janet and Tony unveiling the plaque

Albert qualified as a physical training instructor after the Second World War, running council-backed keep fit sessions before becoming a youth leader.

He worked for West Riding County Council and later Rotherham Council, during which time he was respected by thousands of youngsters and a father figure to many of them.

Among them was Doncaster Rovers legend Alick Jeffrey, whom Albert took under his wing from the age of 14 and instilled in him sporting discipline.

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Albert also carried out community work on behalf of the police, who asked him to work with young offenders.

Albert SykesAlbert Sykes
Albert Sykes

Parkgate-born Albert worked at Aldwarke Main and Kilnhurst collieries for a combined 35 years, and during the war helped repair bomb-damaged buildings.

After 1945, he struggled to find work so travelled to London with a friend – on a borrowed tandem bicycle.

He was an amateur boxer in his younger days, spent time on Rotherham United’s books and was part of the successful Parkgate Welfare side of the 1950s.

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Dave Smith, who attended the youth club as a 16-year-old, played in a pop group which Albert booked to play there after being impressed.

Other regulars from the 60s to Albert’s 1989 retirement called him a great man who set a wonderful example.

Ray Hill, who grew up in Eastwood, said the blue plaque tribute was well-deserved. He added: “Albert was basically in charge of the club during my time there.

“I remember a day trip to Cleethorpes, and I still carried on going to the club when I was on the training scheme at Park Gate Iron and Steel Works.

“We had collections to pay for the dance and music nights, to hire a local group and to buy the latest records. There were so many happy memories and new friendships.”

Albert died in 2008, aged 83.

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