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OBITUARY 2019: MATTHEW, Kenny 1934-2019 age 85

MITCHELL Kenny - On Monday 16th December 2019 peacefully at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Kenny aged 85 years of Porthleven. Loving Husband, Dad, Grandad & Great Grandad. Funeral service will take place at Porthleven Methodist Chapel on Wednesday 8th January at 2-30pm.

Tribute to former Porthleven coastguard Kenny Mitchell

A former Porthleven coastguard and captain of Gunwalloe Surf Life Saving Club has died at the age of 85.

A funeral service for Kenny Mitchell has now taken place at Porthleven Methodist Chapel, led by Rev Danny Reed.

Kenny was born in Leyton, London and evacuated to Porthleven following the onset of the Second World War, just three years after the sudden death of his father.

He and his sister Jean were later joined by their mother Hilda and the family lived at Perth Beanie, a small galvanised flat at the top of Blue Buoy steps.

The house was so damp that they had to use a wooden stick to switch on anything electrical. However, Kenny was happy there, it being only a jump away from the beach where he spent a great deal of his childhood either in the harbour, on the beach or playing football.

When he was 11, he passed the exam to attend Helston Grammar School and the following year his family were allocated a council house at Tor Close.

Tragedy struck again when he was 13: an accident at school left him with a depressed skull fracture which meant he needed three months of complete rest, lying on a board on the floor, unable to move his head.

Having missed a chunk of his education, and to help his mother out financially, he left school at 15 with no formal qualifications. He became an apprentice builder with F Gendall, then with a variety of firms until he worked his way up to site foreman. He then became Clerk of Works for the then Helston Borough Council.

Kenny met his future wife Margaret Eddy at the Ashton Youth Club dance when he was about 18. They married in 1958 at Marazion, and later that year bought a cottage in Porthleven. Their first child was sadly stillborn, but in 1963 they had Julia, and were a very happy family.

A local builder, Goff Toy, asked Kenny to do some work for him and in exchange gave him a plot of land on Penponds Road. Ken drew up the plans and singlehandedly built a bungalow, working in the evenings and on Saturdays, just having help with the electrics.

They moved in on his 30th birthday in 1964, fulfilling a promise he had made to his wife that they would have their own place.

Kenny was a keen sportsman, enjoying swimming, cycling and football.

Gunwalloe Surf Life Saving Club was formed in 1959 and Ken was approached to help with building the club house. This led to him joining the club and in 1960 he took his bronze medallion and became club captain.

He completed trials for Great Britain’s team and represented them at Bude in 1962 in a competition against South Africa. He devoted much of his spare time to the Club over 30 years, being club captain at Gunwalloe for 13 years and chairman for 12.

During his time at Gunwalloe he was involved in 53 sea rescues and 21 cliff rescues. He was granted life-membership of both Gunwalloe SLSC and the Lifesaving Association of Great Britain in 1976.

In 1981, he was recognised by the World Life Saving Association. Indeed, locally the name of Kenny Mitchell is synonymous with lifesaving.

His wife Margaret was the club treasurer, and Julia had her playpen on the beach. During the winter months Kenny would help with swimming sessions.

Missing playing football, Kenny decided to become a referee. In 1971, he enrolled as an auxiliary coastguard at Porthleven, completing 23 years’ service until his enforced retirement at 60.

In 1990 his wife Margaret had a heart attack and died suddenly at the age of 55, which was a great shock to everyone.

Six years later, Kenny’s blossoming friendship with a neighbour, Judi, turned to love and they married, Kenny gaining three step-children and three more grandchildren to go with Julia’s three. He loved being a grandfather and had great patience with them all.

Kenny and Judi enjoyed helping with Porthleven Age Concern, with Kenny driving the minibus. The group enjoyed the mystery trips he would take them on, especially if it involved stopping for food on the way home.

They enjoyed walking around the Lizard Peninsula and also holidaying on the Isles of Scilly. Kenny loved to help people and could turn his hands to most things. He loved to bake and cook, make beer and wine, paint and write poems.

However, about nine years ago his life changed dramatically following a heart attack and his health began to deteriorate.

Although wheelchair-bound, he and Judi loved to listen to Porthleven Band on the harbour head, and he loved that they would stop outside his home at Christmas and play just for him.

At this funeral the procession music was “Nimrod” and the recessional “Finlandia”.

Acting as bearers were current coastguards T Strike, C Strike, J Mitchell, A Penrose, A Mann and R Smith. 

The retiring collection was for Children’s Hospice South West.

Family Mourners: Mrs. Judi Mitchell, widow; Julia Berry, daughter; Lesley Williams, daughter, Tony Williams, son, Matthew Williams and Sarah Williams, son and wife; Samantha Berry, Dann Berry, Melanie Berry and Ben Hardman, granddaughters and partner; Jessica Williams, Reuben Williams, Mark Williams, grandchildren; Martin Slade and David Slade, nephews; Jane and Trevor Strutt, sister-in-law and husband; Colin Branch, Martin and Graham Branch, Jennifer and Rex Thomas, Diana Thomas, Carol and David Eddy, cousins.

Funeral Directors: FE Strike (Porthleven).

Words: Janet Spargo

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