20th March 23 – My Father My Hero – Gerry Kersey

Gerry Kersey was a broadcaster. He worked for Radio Hallam and Radio Sheffield for over 50 years. He retired when the Covid pandemic began in 2020. Now he paints pictures, many of them showing different departments in a steel works.

Gerry’s father, William ‘Billy’ Kersey, was born in Suffolk and he worked there as a farmhand and horseman in the fields. He came to Sheffield when farm work ran dry, and he became a labourer in a steelworks.

At the start of the war in 1914 he signed up for the Army and was sent to France. He was wounded, with a bullet in his chest, on March 2nd, 1916.After 5 months rehabilitation he was discharged from the Army, came home and soon found a wife.

Gerry was born in 1938. They lived on Bellhouse Road, Shiregreen, so young Gerry went to Wooley Wood school, then Parson Cross,and then Firth Park Grammar school. He was good at numbers and, at 16, he got an office job in Hadfields Steel works working out times and wages from ‘clocking-on’ cards. Hadfields had 15,000 employees so he was kept very busy!

After a while he found that some workers ‘clocked-in’ then ‘clocked-in’ a friend, who had stayed at home, thus collecting a day’s wages illegally.When he reported this he got to know the ‘higher-ups’ in management and even spoke to the Works Manager.

When he was checking on the clocks he sometimes went into the different departments of the shop floor, smelting, casting, forging, rolling mills. He found out what dangerous and unhealthy places they were – full of awful fumes, molten metals, white-hot ingots, sheets of hot metal, and rail cars running through much of the time.

This was when he realised that his father, the ‘right-thinking’ man, who had ‘brought home the bacon’ from this unhealthy environment for 40 years, was a hero, and not just because of his war service.

His father’s basic wage was around £8, but he sometimes brought home £20 because he had worked nights and overtime so he could look after his family properly. In war time he worked 13.5-hour shifts 7 day a week. 1/2Also, during the second war (1939-1945) his father became an air-raid warden in his free time.

Gerry said that he was enormously grateful for his Dad had showed him all about life, especially the value of money and not to waste things.

He showed us some of his wonderful paintings of steelworks.

Everyone thought this was an excellent talk, delivered by a master ‘story teller’.