Village throughout England as a local larrikin, men with a touch of Peter Pan in
their spirit, and one has to think of the wonderful character of Compo from the
series 'last of the summer wine' when thinking about these men.
Thrybergh recently suffered the sad loss of such a character and there can't
be many people in the area that didn't know local rascal Lol Foster and his
dogs. Unlike Compo from the T/V series there was much more to Lols attributes,
he was an original, he didn't need a script, he had his own natural sense of
humour. A great humour that was down to earth and knew no boundary's.
Lol came from darn't backs to a family of eight. They lived on Cross Street
better known as the 'Big Yard' , Like all the family he attended Whinney Hill
School, and one can only imagine his escapades whilst there, but I think we can
all safely assume that Lol would have left his Teachers all the more enlightened
for the experience of having him there.
Upon leaving school he started his working life at Silverwood colliery, then
at the age of 21 was called up to do his national service. Sent to serve in
Germany as a P.E teacher he would write home on postcards, and on one of the
postcards he wrote that he had been through the Russian Zone at night and slept
in the day. [ Lol in Russia now there is a thought to conjure up a few images. I
can just imagine Lol yelling out to the Russians one of his favourite sayings
"UP THE YANKS "]. Just for the devil of it.
On being discharged from the Army when his two year conscription finished Lol
returned home and found employment as a bottle blower at Beatson Clarks, so he
made the bottles before he drank from them! Later he became a pipe fitter and
finished his working life in that trade.
This man loved a debate with anyone who might join in, and would discuss
anything from the price of fish to the man on the moon. A man who was open and
honest in what he said, so that you knew where you stood with him, like it or
not yes meant yes, no meant no. He took a great interest in his surroundings and
knew a great deal of history about Thrybergh, he also cared about the community
in which he lived.
people will remember the time when Lol alongside others campaigned to the local
M.P Peter Hardy about the living conditions. This occurred when Rotherham
Council decided to modernise the houses darn't backs, as work commenced the area
became overrun with rats, they were everywhere. The people really thought that
the council were throwing good money after bad, and in their opinion the houses
should have really been demolished and new homes re-built.
Thanks to the efforts of the people including Lol a lot of media interest from
the press and television news was gained . Peter Hardy the local M. P. came to
see for himself the conditions that these people were living in, and investigate
of course the Rats. Eventually thankfully the houses were demolished.
Many years later in the year 2000 Lol became involved when the people of
Thrybergh objected to having prefabricated hostels being built in Thrybergh to
house refugees. This action was to gain world wide publicity and the people of
Thrybergh were accused of being racist, which was total rubbish. The concerns
Lol and the community including the parish council had were quite justified, and
they felt that the 180 refugees should be spread out within the whole of the
Rotherham area not just dumped in one Village in hostels. This would have
created a community within a community a situation which when allowed has
created major problems worldwide. Thankfully THE TIMES newspaper printed an
article on Wednesday 15th March 2000 which put the whole controversy in
perspective. Common sense ruled the day and the Hostel plan was dropped.
Lol loved singing and parties, and was at his happiest on the occasions when
family and friends would get together.
The sight of Lol and his dogs was a familiar figure in the neighbourhood, where
Lol went, so did the dogs, and for most of us that's how we will remember him
walking along forever jovial, his jaw stuck out, enjoying life.
Lol attended many a church meeting at St. Peters Church on Oldgate Lane and
I am sure those meetings he attended would have been very much enriched by the
liveliness of his presence. He also in later years helped out in the maintenance
of the graveyard at St. Leonard's and at Lols funeral the Vicar of St. Leonard's
recalled a conversation he had with Lol there in the graveyard. During the
course of the conversation the Vicar enquired " Where would you like to be
buried Lol ?"The reply came back "On top a thee, cos tha'll go first". The vicar
enjoyed the joke and took it in the humorous way it was intended.
As I said earlier his humour had no boundary's and no one was spared. It was
Lols gift to be able to make remarks that most of us would only dream of making.
Beneath that humour and the larrikin image was the serious side of this man, the
side of his nature that got him involved in the community.
It is said that you can tell how popular a person is by the number of people
who attend their funeral, the service for Lol at St. Peters Church was needless
to say a huge gathering.
If indeed there is a heaven then we can all be certain that Lol is up there
having some great debates, and singing in-between.