A Freeman of Calderdale, and one of the founders of Calderdale Talking Newspaper, Mr Stuart McArthur has died at the age of 76.
A great raconteur – Boothtown-born Stuart loved a good story and claimed he arrived in a snowstorm in the middle of Boothtown Road – he was an optimist determined to make the best of life. His fondness for storytelling and his humour often mixed. Short in stature, Stuart was known as “Goliath” and when his eyesight was deteriorating badly he wore an eye patch to help deal with fractured images.
His blindness was congenital, and he formed the talking newspaper, now one of the largest talking newspapers in the world, in 1979 with Jackie Stark and Norman Brown.
Stuart went to Holy Trinity School, Halifax, and after leaving was an engineer at Pratt Precision Hydraulics until his sight started failing when he was about 30. Always interested in technical things, he was a keen radio amateur, using the piratical radio call sign “Captain Pugwash”, but Stuart relished physical challenges too.
In his youth he was a very keen boxer – an uncle owned a gym and he represented the Halifax club against other towns – and cyclist. In other modes of transport, he was a proud E-type Jaguar car owner and club member even though he could not drive it himself.
He was an active member of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes who meet at Halifax’s Catholic Club, and very much involved with the Halifax Society for the Blind, serving on its finance committee and helping arrange holidays at the Society’s holiday home at Fleetwood.
Stuart married Jill in 1979 and having taken a conscious decision not to have children and pass on the gene which had affected several members of his family, he was devoted to helping children who had lost their sight, raising understanding about blindness by visiting schools with his guide dog, and speaking to sighted children.
In 2000, he was made a Freeman of Calderdale in recognition of his services to blind people throughout the Borough.
Stuart’s funeral will be at Park Wood, Elland, on Friday, February 9, at 11.15am.