Alf Pitfield


Alf was one of the early members of the Rotary Club of Shepperton, joining in 1954. The Club was chartered on the 11th August 1948. He became our 12th President in 1959 and was made a Paul Harris Fellow receiving the award in April 1994; I am sure his Classification would have been as an "Engineer".

Alf was his own boss and he created the firm of Pitfield Engineering, which had premises in Addlestone, and subsequently adjacent to Shepperton Railway station. His business premises had Ian Allan, in common, as their landlord.

It would be truer to describe him as a 'specialist' engineer as he would turn his hand to producing anything in metal. For example our first Rotary Float was conceived and produced under his care. He enjoyed contracts from national organisations such as the Post Office. Ian Allan made good use of his recourses by getting him to produce a number of miniature steam engines for use on his Great Cockrow Railway near Ottershaw. Perhaps the engines are still steaming on Sundays now!

He had unbounded energy to the benefit of Shepperton village. He may well have been a founder member of The Shepperton Chamber of Commerce and he certainly became its President for many years. He was dedicated to the British Legion and could be seen everywhere leading up to November's Poppy Day collection.

Alf will primarily be remembered as a kind, generous man. If you asked him to produce a piece of ironwork for your house you would have his total help. Whilst you would feel eternally grateful for his help, you would also probably feel a little guilty in being unable to remunerate him properly since he took too little money for his work.

Alf was an enthusiastic golfer and his main aim was to drive the ball out of sight. If you played with him much time would be taken up in finding his ball. He loved our Club sports day, which still incorporates a 'Clock Golf' competition. He won the Cup on many occasions. On his last appearance he was still game to undertake a round and his putter did much to support him. Peter Gammond tells me Alf was partly instrumental in the creation of a book, which Peter wrote entitled “The Bluffers Guide To Golf”. Peter says one chapter is devoted to Alf's game.

He also had thespian attributes as a member of the Club’s Old Tyme Music Hall entertainments. Evidently he was the 'funny' man; in other words he was one of the “Freewheelers” formed from the membership of our Club and who gained much fame including entertaining a District Conference one year when it was held in Jersey.

Even after Alf had to forsake joining the Christmas Collection rounds we would still enjoy his company at his house, where we would partake of Mary's mince pies with suitable alcohol at the end of the day.

And so we say goodbye to a man who was a total gentleman. He was always polite and pleasant and his experience often proved decisive at the Club’s business meetings.

We shall always remember his iron handshake. It was so typical of his character.

Alf passed away on the 11th August 2005 and is survived by his wife, Mary.

Brian Hewes

Other memories of Alf:

Joy McQuade Joy recalls that "Alf danced like a dream". He could tap dance and do a sort of soft shoe shuffle. As a member of the Freewheelers Alf's dancing skills were put to good use.

Yvette Asscher

Yvette recalls the evening when Alf was sitting in her lounge but was clearly 'miles away'. He explained that the last time he sat in that spot was when he was a child and was fishing in the creek. The gardener for Creek House used to allow him to fish in the Creek - this was before many years before the houses in Desborough Close were built in the 1960s.

He also spoke of the local flooding, which happened every year until the Desborough Cut was built. He recalled walking up Ferry Lane pushing his bike; he reached the (now) entrance to Desborough Sailing club and was struggling against the current. A punt came along and he was pulled, with his bike, onto the punt and taken to safety.



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