Kehilat Middlesbrough Newsletter No 32 December 2014 (Page 1)
We were recently contacted by Pete Heald, with news of Melvyn Kersh.
Pete wrote to us as follows:
I have known Melvyn for about 15 years. Although I am not of the Jewish faith, I am a very good friend of Melvyn. I lived most of my life in Redcar, so that he and I came from the same area. I am much younger than Mel, being 57 years old, [Ed note: Melvyn is now 75 years old - ad120!] but we couldn't be better friends.
Mel had a small Watch and Jewellery shop in Barrow in Furness, which is in the Lake District. About 2 years ago the shop suddenly closed and no one was able to tell me where Melvyn was. After a year of searching I found him. It turned out that Mel had Vascular Dementia.
So at the moment a good friend of Melvyn, a lady in Lancashire, looks after his finances and phones him 5-6 times a day to check up on him. I take him out 3 times a week and call at his home most days.
With him having Dementia, his memory is mostly of the old days. He talks about you [Donald] regularly, and of the congregation back in Middlesbrough. Some years ago I bought him the book you published about Middlesbrough and he read it every day. We would often talk about things that he had read.
Unfortunately in the year Mel " disappeared ", the book has also gone, but I show him your website on my laptop.
Mel's short term memory is very bad, but he remains happy and I have given him a subscription to the Jewish Chronicle, even though he cannot concentrate sufficiently to read it these days. Occasionally, I read parts of it to him.
You can contact me any time about Melvyn, by email or phone.
This is a photograph I took of Mel today [23 December 2014]
Pete Heald email@example.com
Tel +44 1229 466048
We replied (in part) as follows:
I read your email with very mixed emotions. I know that dementia can be a very distressing illness, particularly for family and friends. But I think that Melvyn is so fortunate to have you (and the Lancashire lady) as his friends to take care of him.
I found it very moving that he should talk about me after all these years.
Are you and Melvyn agreeable to my putting your letter and the photo on to our website? Please let me know.
Pete replied as follows:
I have spoken to Melvyn about our emails and have read to him what we both have written. Melvyn is very happy indeed for anybody to contact me about him. In fact he gave one of his very special smiles at the very thought of it.
All the years that I have known Melvyn, he has always spoken fondly of Middlesbrough and of his family. For Melvyn, the problem in contacting people has been that so much time has passed, plus the fact that he is a very timid person. So, on and off over the years, I have offered to do this for him. But, looking back, I can see that he was afraid. He never likes to put anybody to any trouble. Melvyn is a very gentle gentleman.
You may publish whatever you think is good for all, I enclose another picture of Melvyn, which I took today [24 December 2014] on a drive out.
Very best wishes.
[Ed note: Over the years, we have been contacted many times requesting news of Melvyn Kersh. Until now, we have had no firm news that we could safely publish. We hope that his many friends will see this page and make contact with him through Pete Heald.]