Sad loss of ‘Santa Claus’ Jack

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A familiar figure in the city who rode his electric bicycle around the streets and waxed lyrical at the bar of one of his favourite watering holes has died.

With his bushy white beard and stocky build, children often mistook Jack Chamberlain for Father Christmas and were thrilled when they spotted him.

Mr Chamberlain was born in Chesterfield in 1931, one of three brothers, and attended Tapton School where he was known as ‘Sledge Boy’ for his habit of sliding down the hill on his satchel rather than walking.

After leaving school he trained as a draughtsman, a career he pursued his entire working life, apart from a three-year stint in the RAF as a physical training instructor.

He met his future wife Dorothy when she was just 14 years old and promptly tipped her over a wall into a snowdrift.

She soon forgave him and they dated on and off for the next seven years before marrying in 1956.

They had three sons, Tim, Mark and Stephen.

Mr Chamberlain was offered the chance to work in Uganda for the copper mining company Anglo American and so he, Dorothy and their three young boys, the youngest just six years old, upped sticks and prepared for a life of adventure which was to last for the next two years.

A short spell back in the UK was followed by 10 years in Zambia. The boys were sent back to school in England but visited their father regularly.

Stephen recalled one trip when he and his father were attacked by highway robbers, had their car stolen and were left at the side of the road with just a bag of apples.

In 1981 Mr Chamberlain took semi-retirement and the family settled in Wakefield as they had extended family in the city.

He kept himself busy doing odd jobs, working in bars, and tending to his plot on St Michael’s allotment where he grew many types of fruit and vegetables, making jam from the surplus.

But then, following a series of thefts and the burning down of his shed, he was forced , reluctantly, to give up his allotment.

Mr Chamberlain, who lived in Wheater House, George Street was a devoted grandfather and loved spending time with his five grandchildren.

He was well known to many in his two favourite pubs, the Bull and Fairhouse and Fernandes Brewery Tap, where he would sit at the bar putting the world to rights.

He died aged 82 on Sunday after a short illness.

The funeral will be held at Wakefield Crematorium next Thursday, August 29, at 2pm where there will be a collection for the PDSA. The family have requested no flowers.