A life led by love of girl guiding

One of the leading visionaries in the preservation of Calderdale’s heritage and regeneration of Sowerby Bridge has died, aged 87.

Roma Andrew, formerly of Manor Heath, Halifax, played an integral role in Calderdale’s history.

In the late 1960s, Roma and Mark’s son, William - then a member of the 12th Halifax sea scouts, at Bolton Brow Methodist Church, asked that his parents help in sourcing new premises ahead of closure. Mr and Mrs Andrew took on the head lease of the Sowerby Bridge wharf, from British Waterways, and the rest is history.

In 2010, Prince Charles visited the restored wharf and opened the Sea Scouts headquarters - named after Roma and Mark’s son William, who died in a car accident in 1983.

The couple, who settled in Halifax in 1964, helped boost Sowerby Bridge’s tourism when they revived the canals and started Shire Cruisers Narrow Boat Holidays, up until the late 1990s.

Mr and Mrs Andrew were among the founders of Salt Warehouse trust.

Daughter Sara Andrew, 53, said: “In the 1960s/70s, people were only interested in concrete towers and car parks.”

A family friendship with Sir Ernest Hall and a vision to inject life into unloved and forgotten buildings led Mr and Mrs Andrew to actively support Dean Clough, Halifax.

Sara said: “They had a great vision to keep the story going of buildings that are more than bricks and mortar - they’re social history. They tell the story of a generation who worked and lived in them.”

Roma’s love of girl guiding carried her throughout life. Starting as a girl guider in Hayton, a small village near Carlisle and continuing in Africa, in 1954, as a guiding community development officer. In 1956, in Africa, she met and announced her engagement to Mark Andrew, an architect and scout in Uganda.

Roma held various roles within Girlguiding West Yorkshire West and more recently was a vice-president.

Girlguiding West Yorkshire said: “Roma had been an active member of our county for many years. She had a remarkable story to tell about how between 1954-6, she had lived and worked in Uganda as a guide trainer - travelling the country to establish guiding.”

Roma immersed herself into social projects across the region. Over the past fifteen years she supported local causes including Overgate Hospice - working on reception and talking with patients, Square Chapel, Actors Workshop, and others.

Her funeral was held at the Minster and lunch was held in the Dean Clough galleries where friends and family braved the snow to pay their respects and say farewell to Roma Andrew.