Former Spen MP dies aged 91

041082 b5 5/3 ns'Scarborough People'Wilf Proudfoot.
041082 b5 5/3 ns'Scarborough People'Wilf Proudfoot.

Former Spen MP Wilf Proudfoot has died at the age of 91.

Mr Proudfoot, who also owned a supermarket chain based in Scarborough, represented the Brighouse and Spen seat from 1970-74, ousting Labour’s Colin Jackson by just 59 votes. It was his second foray into parliament, having served as an MP for Cleveland from 1959-1964.

Born in County Durham, he gained his early knowledge of the food retailing industry by working in the local self-service grocery shop which his father managed in the town.

He moved to Scarborough aged 14 and was later conscripted into the RAF where he was commissioned, serving as an aircraft fitter in Allahabad, India, and in the education branch and teaching mathematics and technical skills to recruits from an educationally disadvantage background.

In 1946 he invested £300 from his RAF gratuity, and borrowed funds from his family, to buy a former blacksmith’s building in Seamer and fit it out as a supermarket.

In 1950 he became the youngest member of Scarborough Town Council when he was elected as a Conservative member. However his informal dress sense did not endear him to some other party members as he was once asked to leave the Conservative Club when he walked in wearing jeans and a cardigan.

Mr Proudfoot was a colourful character and in 1965, he was a leader in a consortium which set up a pirate radio station off Scarborough, Radio 270, on board a 150 tonne fishing vessel.

In the snap 1974 by-election he lost Brighouse and Spen which was re-taken by Colin Jackson.

He fought it again in the October election that same year, but failed to win it back.

He leaves his wife, Peggy, to whom he was married for 63 years, three children and five grandchildren.