Expert who gave town better water

Eric Foster is celebating his 100th bithday. With Eric are his wife Maragret and the Mayor and Mayoress of Calderdale Coun Keith Watson and Eileen Watson.
Eric Foster is celebating his 100th bithday. With Eric are his wife Maragret and the Mayor and Mayoress of Calderdale Coun Keith Watson and Eileen Watson.
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SOWERBY Bridge’s former chief public health inspector has turned 100.

William Eric Foster celebrated the milestone surrounded by family and friends at a surprise party at the Tower House Hotel, Halifax.

It was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Calderdale, Keith and Eileen Watson.

Born in Northenden, near Manchester, Mr Foster’s career brought him to Sowerby Bridge just before the Second World War.

At the time, the town had very basic sanitation and Mr Foster set about improving water supplies and refuse collections and upgrading the sanitary conditions for most homes in the area.

At the outbreak of the war, he tried to join the RAF twice but was refused the first time because of the importance of his work.

The second time, he got as far as embarkation for Canada before he was found out and returned to his job.

He still played his part in the war effort, however, organising the local ambulance brigade and the evacuation of mothers and children from London’s East End.

It was during this period that he met Margaret Barraclough, whom he married at Tuel Lane Methodist Church on August 15, 1945 - the day that marked the end of the conflict.

The couple went on to have two sons, Peter and John, and a daughter, Ruth.

In his later career, Mr Foster became one of the first in the country to qualify in smoke control and clean air, and tutored several pupils in public health.

In the late 1960s he was put in charge of Northern England for food contamination in the event of a nuclear war –- a post he thankfully never had to fulfil.

He took early retirement in 1974 when Sowerby Bridge Urban District Council became part of Calderdale Council, but was later reemployed to finish off smoke control and house inspections in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, before he retired for good.

Mr Foster has also been a keen member of Sowerby Tennis Club and is a past president of Sowerby and District Bowling Club.