THE communities of Ollerton and Marthall have paid tribute to their ‘gifted and generous’ neighbour, the late Sir Bobby Charlton.

The former Manchester United and England striker, along with his wife, Lady Norma, made Ollerton their home for more than 40 years, and the couple cherished their warm welcome into all aspects of community life, says neighbour, Amelia Brighouse.

Amelia, who runs Brighouse Farm in Marthall, shared her memories of the beloved footballer as his funeral service took place at Manchester Cathedral on Monday (November 13).

She remembered how much Sir Bobby loved bringing his two daughters, Suzanne and Andrea, to her family farm in Great Warford to buy hay for their horses. 

“He always asked to see the animals on the farm, and he had a genuine interest in all the farming activities going on throughout the seasons,” Amelia said.

Northwich Guardian: The Hall at Marthall replaced the old Marthall Village Hall, and Sir Bobby was instrumental to the fundraisingThe Hall at Marthall replaced the old Marthall Village Hall, and Sir Bobby was instrumental to the fundraising (Image: Amelia Brighouse)

“He was always so bright and succinct, and always a delight to talk to.” 

Amelia recalled the role Sir Bobby, who died on October 21 aged 86, played in a community project to rebuild Marthall Village Hall, which in 2008, had fallen into disrepair.

“It really needed knocking down and replacing, which was going to be expensive,” she said.  

“We formed a project team and secured lottery funding to replace it, but it was subject to match funding, meaning the lottery would match whatever we managed to raise ourselves.

“When Sir Bobby heard about this, he kindly gave his time for free at one of our fundraising events.

“We put on a wonderful night at Knutsford Civic Centre where Sir Bobby talked about all his fantastic experiences in football and public life, with often hilarious accounts of his unique experiences and achievements.

“It was a sell-out. The place was packed.

“I’ll never forgot how he started the evening by paying tribute to Ollerton and its surrounding communities, and talked of how appreciative he was in discovering the village with his wife Norma in the early 70s.

“He stressed - from the minute they bought their house - how warm and welcoming he'd always found the locals to be to him and his whole family.

“That one event raised a very significant sum of money, and we were able to go ahead and build what became known as The Hall at Marthall, and the community has continued to benefit so much from his kind generosity ever since."

Amelia was keen to have Sir Bobby’s contribution remembered, she said, as so much of the good he did for the community has gone unremarked.

“He was well known to be a modest man who didn’t like to make a fuss, but we think this is the right time to acknowledged Sir Bobby’s contribution to the life of our small community," she added.

“On behalf of all of us, I’d like to express our sincere condolences to Lady Norma, Susanne and Andrea, and to the whole family.  

“We were all very grateful to the kind generosity of this extremely gifted, talented man and his assistance in the fundraising.”