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Bill Pitt on Brook Street Ilkley in the 1980s

Local bobby dies  

Local policeman Bill Pitt has died aged 80. At six feet six tall and seventeen stone, he was well known on the beat around Ilkley for almost thirty years.

During his career he acted as ‘coroner’s officer’ for sudden deaths, suicides, and murders, often arriving first on the scene. He also dealt with countless burglaries, road traffic accidents and domestic disputes in Ilkley. He received a Commendation for bravery from the Chief Constable after disturbing a burglary in progress, when he chased two armed men on foot across fields, crossed the river and apprehended one of the men, detaining him physically until help arrived.

In March 1967 he was on duty for the Jimmy Hendrix concert at the Troutbeck Hotel, helping rescue his sergeant who was mobbed after stepping on stage to stop Hendrix playing.

He also helped evacuate the Ilkley Moor Hotel on Skipton Road when it was ravaged by fire killing four people in July 1968. The hotel was subsequently demolished, leaving only the part of the building which is now Ilkley Moor Vaults.

Bill was selected to represent West Yorkshire police at the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in July 1969 at Caernarvon Castle. He was part of the police guard of honour in a ceremony watched by millions on TV.

He also represented Ilkley on a civic exchange visit to twin-town Coutances, patrolling on French streets in his English police uniform and bobbies’ helmet.

In 1979 he was part of the local police team after the attack on twenty-one-year-old Ilkley Gazette reporter Yvonne Mysliwiec by Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”.

He was also a cub scout leader with 1st Ben Rhydding and a coach at Ilkley Swimming Club, proving that the best police officers are part of the community they served. Bill believed that policing should be locally controlled and based on mutual trust.

After retiring, he became a school governor at Bolling Road Primary.

His funeral is to be held on Friday 6 April at 11am at St. Johns Church in Ben Rhydding, all welcome.

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