Poignant tribute marks link between Fred and school

Dot Charlton and children with their chosen books.
Dot Charlton and children with their chosen books.
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A local historian will be remembered for many years to come at a north Northumberland first school thanks to the generosity of his family.

Alnmouth’s Fred Bettess, who died last year at the age of 95, paid frequent visits to Hipsburn First School to share his knowledge of the surrounding area and its history.

A pupil proudly showing his inscribed book.

A pupil proudly showing his inscribed book.

When he passed away, his family donated his account at Barter Books in Alnwick to the school.

Last term, pupils went to the famous bookshop to choose their favourite books and now each one has been inscribed as a lasting tribute to Fred.

Each one reads: “In recognition of the special relationship between Fred Bettess and Hipsburn First School, this book is a gift from his family.”

Headteacher Dot Charlton said: “Fred was a frequent visitor here and delighted many generations of children with his knowledge of Alnmouth and the surrounding area.

Fred Bettess, from Alnmouth.

Fred Bettess, from Alnmouth.

“He was a great friend to the school and the children looked forward to his visits.

“We are very grateful to his family for making such a generous gesture, it is very much appreciated by everyone at Hipsburn.”

Fred Bettess, who was once hailed as the King of Alnmouth and described as the font of all knowledge on the history of the village, died at the end of October last year.

He was born in 1918, in Lancashire, the youngest of six children and went to Liverpool University to study civil engineering before graduating during the Second World War and going off to help build bomber aerodromes in Lincolnshire.

There he met Gladys, his wife of more than 50 years, who died in 1995.

Fred and his wife Gladys first came to Alnmouth on holiday in the late 1940s before buying a holiday cottage in Back Lovaine Terrace in 1957.

When they retired they came to Alnmouth full-time and bought the house that they lived in for the rest of their lives.

He became fully involved with village life and served on the parish council, including as chairman.

He was also involved with the Hindmarsh Hall and was able to help with its rejuvenation.

Fred developed an interest in postcards of the village and built up a collection of more than 300, which he used as a basis for talks.

Having published several books during his professional life, in 2010, he released An Alnmouth Scrapbook, which looks at various historical aspects of the village.

A year later, he published Recollections, which details his life from childhood to his retirement in Alnmouth.

And earlier in 2013, aged 94, he published his first e-book – The Story of Alnmouth – based on a thesis submitted by his late wife in 1974.