TRIBUTES have been paid to Gretta Sharkey – a “driving force” behind the opening of Pontefract’s Prince of Wales Hospice – who died last week, aged 83.
Mrs Sharkey, of Birch Grove, Townville, was a founding member of the steering group formed in 1981 to raise cash to build what would become the Prince of Wales Hospice. She died in Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield on Friday.
Alison Drake, her friend and chairman of Castleford Heritage Trust, said Mrs Sharkey would be remembered for her tireless work for the hospice.
She said: “Gretta was the most amazing woman you could ever wish to meet, she was an inspiration to many people. She will be enormously missed – the whole of the Five Towns is the poorer for her loss.”
Mrs Drake said Mrs Sharkey was the “driving force” in raising funds to set up the Halfpenny Lane hospice. Prince Charles visited her home in 1986 to congratulate her and fellow fundraisers for their commitment to raising cash for the care centre.
David Stewart, the hospice’s chief executive, said: “We are all indebted to Gretta for her commitment to the hospice and her tenacity in generating vital support for more than 30 years.”
Mrs Sharkey – who was on the board of trustees at the hospice – worked for 25 years as secretary at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Castleford.
She was also a trustee of Castleford Heritage Trust and received a League of Mercy medal in 2007 for services to the community.
Mrs Drake added: “Gretta was one of those people that if she said she was going to do something, she would do it outstandingly. She could be trusted and we loved her. She was brilliant with people in the community, she knew all the families and had an enormous circle of friends that were devoted to her – we turned out to support each other and she was the heart of it.”
Mrs Sharkey leaves her husband of 61 years, Jim, 84, a son and two daughters, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Her funeral will be held at St Joseph’s Church in Castleford on April 11 and there will be a wake at the George V Club on Front Street, Glass Houghton, from 1pm.