Tributes paid to ‘heart and soul of Pontefract’ Martin Lodge

Martin Lodge
Martin Lodge

Tributes have been paid to “heart and soul of Pontefract” Martin Lodge, who died from cancer last Friday with his family by his side.

Mr Lodge was Vice Chairman of both Pontefract Civic Society and Pontefract Heritage Group and was dedicated to improving the town and promoting awareness and interest in its heritage.

Civic society chairman Paul Cartwright said: “We as a civic society and a town, have lost a man who had a passion for life, for his family, for humour, for performance and for everything about Pontefract.

“Martin was a loyal and thorough Vice Chair, with so much potential to elevate the civic movement beyond where it is now.

“He was a giant of a man, a true gentleman, and we will miss him dearly.”

Mr Lodge created and launched Pontefract Junior Civic Society and led heritage walks and ghost walks through the town centre.

He has also been heavily involved in the town’s Magna Carta celebrations and the Key to the North project to redevelop Pontefract Castle. The castle flew its St George’s Day flag at half mast on Saturday.

Deputy leader of Wakefield Council Coun Denise Jeffery said: “Martin absolutely loved Pontefract. He was the heart and soul of it.

“He was civic society through and through and worked hard to get more younger people involved.

“But he also got involved in so many other groups and projects in the town, always pushing for the best for Pontefract. He will be missed.”

Mr Lodge was also a performing member of St Giles and St Mary’s Pantomime Society as well as being a keen photographer.

A message on the society’s Faecbook page read: “Martin was such a positive and well liked person who will be missed by everyone. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Alison Wollerton, chair of Pontefract Heritage Group, said : “Anything that involves highlighting Pontefract, its history and it’s people, Martin has been involved in.

“He was one of those rare people who inspired people to want to do more. He had a magnetism.

“He has touched so many people’s lives but he has left a legacy. He has been very much loved and he will be missed.”

Mr Lodge spent ten months compiling a book of tales and pictures about Pontefract.

The first batch of copies of ‘Pontefract - celebrating the past; looking to the future’ were printed for sale the day before he passed away.

The books, which are raising funds for the civic society and heritage group, can be bought from the Pomfret Gallery, St Giles Church and Pontefract Castle.