Bill Goodhand obituary

Other lives: Geography lecturer and keen local historian in Welbourn, Lincolnshire

My father, Bill Goodhand, who has died aged 87, was a local historian, a champion of local politics and a strong supporter of the idea that small is beautiful.

He was born in Louth, Lincolnshire, to Ethel (nee Evison) and Don Goodhand, a railway signalman. From the City school, Lincoln, he went to Birmingham University, gaining a geography degree (1955) and then taking a teaching qualification.

His first post was at Bishop Vesey’s grammar school in Sutton Coldfield. In 1958 he married Marion Mableson, and they set off for Australia as “£10 Poms”, settling in Tasmania, where Bill was a geography lecturer at Hobart University. They had two sons in Tasmania before in 1963 returning to the UK, where their daughter was born the following year.

The family moved to a farm in Welbourn, Lincolnshire, in 1969, when Bill became a geography lecturer at Bishop Grosseteste Teacher Training College (now Bishop Grosseteste University), remaining there until he took early retirement in 1991. Mill Farm was in bad repair and was to become a long-term project, as well as a much-loved family home, for the next five decades.

Bill immersed himself in village affairs and became chair of the parish council, serving for 30 years. Left-leaning, Guardian-reading and widely travelled, he was proud to be considered a Lincolnshire “yeller belly”. He was also quiet, modest and fair-minded, which helped him balance different sets of interests and pressures within the village.

Among the numerous community initiatives he was involved in were the acquisition, with lottery funding, of Castle Hill – the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle in the village – as a public resource; the renovation and purchase of the village blacksmith’s forge; the preparation of the neighbourhood plan; and working with landowners to establish field path walks around the village. He had a vast knowledge of village history and co-authored a book detailing the life of Welbourn-born Sir William Robertson (who rose from the rank of private to field marshal in the British army).

He was a founding member of the National Association of Small Schools, which fought to protect small schools from closure, and a longstanding chair of governors for Welbourn primary school, where Marion was a teacher. In recognition of their civic roles, Bill and Marion were named Lincolnshire citizens of the year in 2014.

Bill is survived by Marion, his children, Simon, Sarah and me, seven grandchildren and his sister, Jenny.

Jonathan Goodhand

The GuardianTramp

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