Thank you Big Len. Your wonderful spirit lives on in us all. An amazing friend & father but also grandad. Greatly missed by your eldest son Martin, wife Kate, grandchildren Daniel, James, Isabella and great grandchildren Finlay, Gracie, Millie, Layla & Romie
Donate in memory of
LeonardSt Giles Hospice
In loving memory of Leonard Percy Bennett who sadly passed away at Royal Stoke University Hospital on 22nd July 2020, aged 93 years.
Leonard's service will be available to watch online (live). Please access using the following link:
Login: ID: 42522 Password: fjkkjqqj
A recording will also be available to view until 13th August, using the same log in details.
Julian and Joan Shaw donated £50 in memory of Leonard
My wonderful dad Len, will love you forever, reunited with mum, your beloved Bren xxxxxx
Sara Read donated £20 in memory of Leonard
Such a kind gentlemen, he will be missed x
Derek Wray donated £50 in memory of Leonard
Simply the Best Father and Grandfather.
Love Daughter Eileen and Grandson Derek xxx
Kerrie Stringer wrote
LEONARD PERCY BENNETT (preferred to be known as Len)
Born in Kings Bromley on Tuesday 22 March 1927 to Thomas and Mildred Bennett who had moved to Staffordshire from the Cotswolds in search of work in the early 1920s. Len was the 2nd born of 3 sons, his father was a horseman and Millie a housemaid to various country estates, mainly in the Chipping Norton area but after WW1 his father exchanged horses for steam rollers as a driver for Lichfield Council.
The family moved to Streethay in Lichfield where they remained for a few short years before finally settling in Alrewas. Len attended All Saints School where he did not enjoy the learning aspect very much under the strict rule of headmaster Mr McKnight, although he always held the man in high esteem. Len was popular with the local lads and got into trouble at times but always maintained that it was never his fault, he would say, “I always stood out because I was taller than everyone else”. However, he did admit to getting into trouble along with his mates when a shopkeeper gave chase over a ‘borrowed' pinch of tobacco. The lads managed to escape with all 4 of them getting away on just 1 bicycle. On another occasion, he escaped the local Bobby by climbing up a lamp post, the Bobby stood underneath unaware that Len was looking down on him but as it was only a minor misdemeanour he just gave him a clip around the ear when he did finally catch up with him but Len was in far worse trouble when his dad found out.
Despite his mischief, Len was very proud to be a member of the church choir at All Saints for several years until his voice broke. In his youth, he also joined the Air Training Corps (ATC) when he particularly enjoyed the thrill of flying gliders.
Len left school at the age of 14 and commenced an apprenticeship with Wagon Repairs in Burton where he went on to gain engineering qualifications in the maintenance and repair of the railways rolling stock. For much of his 20 plus years there, to save money on bus fare, he cycled to Burton and back each day which was not always a pleasant experience in severe weather conditions, particularly after a long hard days work.
During WW2 Len was very keen to enlist when he became of age but his employers would not release him from his vital work in support of the war effort. After the war, he tried to enlist into the Grenadier Guards, his father's former regiment but failed the medical due to his ‘hammered toes’. Len did not want that to stop him but despite 2 operations in an attempt to correct them he still failed the medical.
Len was attracted to Alrewas girl Brenda Fallowfield, then aged just 14 and 3 years his junior. Despite dating other girls his heart yearned for Bren and in time, they began their courtship when the couple became known as ‘Big Len and Little Bren’. They were married in All Saints Church on 24 March 1951, just 2 days after Len's 24th birthday.
As a couple they loved to go dancing with friends in the local towns and villages although Len's size 12 feet, more often than not, got in the way. They were also very keen members of the Tamworth Speedway Supporters Club and followed them to various venues around the country.
Len always had a love of spectator sports including wrestling, boxing, cricket, rugby, football and horse racing. The family would all have a small flutter on the Grand National each year with the kids taking the bets to Mr Simpson who also owned the local chip shop, which was near Kents Bridge in those days. Much later in life, he loved to watch Formula 1 Racing and said recently that he really hopes that Lewis Hamilton will achieve his 7th world title this season. He would also have been delighted to know the final result recently when the England cricket team won the series against the West Indies.
Their first child Eileen was born just one year after the wedding, followed in quick succession by 3 more daughters; Vanessa, Joan and Karen, so Len was well and truly outnumbered by females for the next few years.
Early in the 1960s Len was offered a transfer with his job and moved his family to Parr in Cornwall. However, they could not settle completely to their new life so Len secured a transfer to Cirencester in Gloucestershire taking their brand new static home with them. They still missed Alrewas so upped sticks once again and returned to the village along with their static home that was relocated in the back garden of Bren’s parental home in Main Street and soon after their first son Martin was born.
Life began to settle down for the family until they tragically lost their home and belongings in a fire when Len’s heroic action saved the lives of all 5 of his children, he had been working in a shed whilst Bren was working at the Bulls Head in Fradley. The local community rallied around for the family with their kindly generous offers of help and donations, wonderful family and friends also put them up for a few weeks until a new home was found. How many today would be happy to take in a family of 7!!!
They began to rebuild their lives at a time which saw the arrival of another son Andrew but their happiness was short lived when Len had a terrible accident after falling through a roof at work, narrowly escaping with his life. His severe injuries meant that he had to remain lying on his back for almost a year, not knowing if he would walk again and once again, friends and family rallied to provide support, including food for a wonderful Christmas dinner, there was no sick pay in those days!
Len's sheer grit and determination won through and although he learned to walk again, he was told that he would never be fit enough to return to his engineering role, a job he loved. Despite his disappointment, he soon found work as a Security Officer for Joseph Lucas Ltd at Fradley. It was 12 hour long shifts, sometimes for 7 days a week which kept him from his family, often at Christmas times. The higher salary did however enable Len to buy his own vehicle, not a shiny saloon but a big grey Bedford van as room was always needed for a pram, the shiny car came later in the form of a Ford Consul, his pride and joy. Len did find time to play an occasional game of cricket for the Lucas team in between work and family, cricket being his favourite sport.
Another house move saw the arrival of their 7th and youngest child, another son David so by now the male/female ratio was more closely balanced. Days out with the family would usually be a trip to Milford Common or Drayton Manor Park where a picnic lunch was packed up and enjoyed with walks through Cannock Chase and a game of rounders or cricket as money was always tight with so many mouths to feed. Len became a keen supporter of the Gilway Boys Football Club in Tamworth for whom his sons played, at last something the boys could all share. He was also a fan of the local football clubs Derby County and Burton Albion. Len would not hear a bad word said about Brian Clough in his hay-day at Derby.
Len and Bren got a taste for overseas travel quite late in life after the family treated them to their first holiday abroad for their 30th wedding anniversary. They chose to go to Benidorm in Spain where they said they had had THE time of their lives. They later enjoyed more European holidays and when in Austria for two Christmases with Joan’s family and mutual friends they joined in with sleigh rides, snowball fights, candlelit walks singing carols and even enjoyed a ride on a zip wire, despite their advancing years. They loved nothing more than organising family parties, be it for a special celebration or just making the most of a sunny day with a barbecue and playing boules in the garden, any excuse to bring their growing family together.
Len spent more than 26 happy years working at Lucas where he made many new friendships, in particular meeting his most special lifelong friend, the ‘youngster' Peter Starkey who Len took under his wing. He came to love Peter like a son and later his new wife Heather who they would go dancing with when they could organise a babysitter. Peter recalls how he and Len were always getting up to antics when on shift but Len did not appreciate his own strength and on one occasion they were wrestling when Peter accidentally collided with Len's fist causing Peter to be knocked out cold, falling at the feet of their boss. Thankfully for them both, Peter quickly recovered and the boss saw the funny side so they both retained their jobs.
Despite retiring from the job early, Len was soon asked to return to ‘temporary’ security work for Lucas and reassured Bren that it was only for a short time to help out. However, it was 5 years later before he permanently retired and now that all of the children had flown the nest, Len and Bren decided to move to Newquay in Wales, an area where they had enjoyed many a family holiday. Len enjoyed regular swimming in the sea but Bren could not swim but they were able to enjoy walks along the beach together. However, that lasted for almost 2 years until yet again, they had a yearning to be back home so they moved to Branston where they lived happily together for a good many years allowing David, Joan, Julian and Ian to finally retire from acting as their personal removal team.
Len was heartbroken in 2013 when he lost the love of his life, his beloved Bren after almost 62 years of marriage and then again in 2019 when quite suddenly and unexpectedly he lost his daughter Vanessa.
Despite his own ill health, Len remained independent for as long as possible but as his mobility became severely limited and struggling with both visual and hearing impairments he decided to move to a bungalow in Stretton early in 2019 where he was soon made to feel welcome by his new friends in the Ladywell Close community.
Despite his difficulties Len would still enjoy rides out to local shops on his trusty mobility scooter and meet up with his neighbours for community coffee mornings, granddaughter Kerrie and her husband Noel would also take him for lunch at a local pub when they would arrive a little short of breath after trotting along to keep up with Len who liked to drive at top speed.
Unfortunately, Len's health continued to deteriorate and in time he needed more support than family could provide so he finally agreed to accept additional help from home carers (AMG and Bluebird) when he really appreciated their daily visits. During the past year, Len also spent more frequent periods as an in-patient in Queens Burton, Royal Derby and Royal Stoke hospitals and then Trentham House Care home in order to receive his much needed care after a serious injury that left him totally immobile. Throughout, he always expressed admiration and gratitude for the dedication of care and kindness of his nurses, doctors and carers although it was very difficult for him and his loved ones not being able to visit throughout this most difficult time of pandemic. Members of the family were able to enjoy limited quality time with Len was on his 93rd birthday but were not permitted to see him again until the past month when they were grateful to be able to talk with him through a window at Trentham House and also that David was permitted to be at his bedside in his final hours in hospital.
Len leaves 6 surviving children, 13 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren (with another on the way) and 4 great great grandchildren.
Len was fondly known by many as a gentle giant of a man who was always kind, caring and considerate of others and respected by all who knew him. His greatest faith was in human nature and in the family and friends that he so dearly loved. Throughout the tragedy and illness that challenged Len during his life, he never complained but just got on and did the best that he could do for everyone in his life, always with kindness and humility. Len was so dearly loved by his family and friends and will be so very sadly and deeply missed but leaves them with a legacy of wonderful memories and love in their hearts.
Pete Starkey donated £30 in memory of Leonard
A good man and a very good friend to me RIP Pete
Kerrie Stringer donated £50 in memory of Leonard
Love you Grandad xxx
Kerrie Stringer wrote
A wonderful Grandad x
My partner in crime and best friend, I miss you terribly and always will.
Reunited with Nan. ‘Big Len and Little Bren’
Love you so much xxx
Georgia Bennett donated £20 in memory of Leonard
In loving memory of my Grandad, who was always a kind hearted gentle giant. All my love, Georgia x