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Wednesday June 12th 2024

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Heaton House

George Howard (Jim) Heaton had been a familiar figure in Martley for well over 30 years, and will always be remembered. He did so much for our village in very many different capacities. Jim Heaton knew everyone, and always helped to make newcomers feel welcome to the community. Martley’s Heaton House carries his name.
Many villagers have paid tribute to his warm friendship and personal kindness and concern for their welfare. “A real gentleman” is how most have described him.
He qualified and practised as a Chartered Accountant; latterly he was Senior Midlands Partner in Tansley Witt & Co., retiring in 1973. Jim and Freda Heaton had moved to The Tee at Martley a few years after the war. It was the ideal place for them. A lovely house with a few acres in a wonderful position with long views over the Teme Valley. He was a real countryman and he loved that countryside with the valleys of the River Teme and its tributaries.
Busy professional practice was not enough. Jim was a man with exceptionally high standards and if he saw something which was worthwhile and which needed doing, he was more than likely to take it on. Very soon he became much involved in local life in Martley, and for something like 35 years he was on most of the important bodies in the parish.
There was the Parochial Church Council, the Parish Council, the District Education Committee, the Old Grammar School Foundation Trust, the Memorial Hall Trust, the Young Farmers’ Advisory Committee, the CE Primary School, the Chantry High School and the Ancient Order of Foresters. Not just a member, but active in office and in some cases and for some years Chairman or President.
Those were just some of his interests in the village, and you might think all that could have caused some local reaction. Far from it! He came to be held in great affection and respect. That is shown not least by what happened when he left the village – he was made Freeman of Martley, the only one, I think, so a singular honour – and he was made Churchwarden Emeritus of Martley Church.
It was not just the parish. His wider involvement’s included the Rural District Council, of which he was Chairman for a time, and, after the Local Government reorganisation in 1974, Malvern Hills District Council.
In the church there was the Diocesan Conference and Synod and the Pastoral and Church Buildings Committee. There was the Worcestershire Red Cross Association; the Abberley Hills Preservation Society; the Clothiers’ Company of Worcester, a very ancient Guild, one of the very few outside London and of which he was High Master in 1979/80.
There was the council for the Protection of Rural England, the Country Landowners’ Association, Elgar’s Birthplace Trust, the Elgar Foundation, the local Conservative Association, The Worcestershire Association and – going back some years – in 1951, the Worcestershire Campaign against Open Cast Mining. It was his leadership of that campaign which saved an extensive part of the Teme Valley countryside.
Jim Heaton was High Sheriff of the County of Hereford and Worcester 1975/76..
He was an active farmer in a small way, having the Tee herd of Large White pigs and a flock of cross bred Welsh ewes.
Among his hobbies he counted sailing and also natural history. He was a member of the British Ornithological Union, a body of which it is not easy to gain membership. In his own words one of his hobbies was “living in the Teme Valley”. His deep love for that country always showed, in all sorts of ways.