Tributes to ‘unforgettable’ sport and business figure as he dies age 105

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Tributes have been paid to an “unforgettable” Merseyside sport, business and community figure who has died at 105 years of age.

Ken Medlock OBE held countless high-profile positions and community roles throughout his long life, perhaps most notably as deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside, chairman of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, and long-serving vice-president of Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Ken’s wife Edna, who he married in 1939, died in 2018 after 78 years of marriage.

A former engineer born in the Peak District but who lived in West Kirby, Wirral, Ken's family paid tribute to the great-grandfather of eight, describing his life as “very full and rewarding”.

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His son Jeff told the ECHO : “He had fairly humble beginnings and he was always striving to improve himself.

Ken celebrating his 100th birthday back in 2014

“Leaving school at 14, he got his qualifications as an engineer – and was always very ambitious to do good things and achieve. He continued that throughout his whole life.”

After having attended evening classes at the Manchester College of Technology while employed at the printing works in Birch Vale, Ken got a job as an engineer in Newcastle, soon returning to Manchester as chief engineer of the Cooperative Wholesale Society’s Engineering Department in 1951.

In 1960, he was appointed to the role of director.

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He went on to design the tallest building in the country during the 1960s, the CIS tower.

In 1971, he left to become CEO of the Birkenhead and District Cooperative Society, soon going on to become chairman of Radio City for 13 years – and one of the “prime movers” behind the station’s launch.

During his term at the station, he was invited to join the now-Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, appointed as vice-chairman from 1982, and then chairman from 1986 until 1988.

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The chamber of commerce role saw Ken asked to get involved with various voluntary housing associations, also being invited to join the North West Channel Tunnel Steering Group.

That’s as well as a significant amount of charity work – something Ken’s family said he was especially known for.

Jeff said: “He always had that commitment to do things for the community, and spent a lot of his latter life doing things for organisations for no financial gain at all, things that were worthwhile.

“In his later life he was even chair of his local residential block of flats and still used to go round changing the lightbulbs for old ladies who couldn’t do it themselves.”

His charity work included support for the Merseyside Kidney Research and Life Education Centres across the region. Recognition for this work came in 1985 – when he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside – and in 1989 – when he was awarded an OBE by the Queen.

Ken Medlock OBE.

Jeff added: “He was always very generous with his time and his money.”

While celebrating his 100th birthday back in 2014, Ken told the Manchester Evening News his secret to living such a long life was “eating honey every day”.

He told the paper: “I am just privileged to be in this position where I can still do what I love. I am very lucky that I have had such good health. I use a stick but that’s it.”

Behind Edna, Ken’s second love was cricket, and the keen amateur batsman for Birch Vale Cricket Club went on to become a stalwart of Lancashire Cricket Club, serving as vice-president at Old Trafford for over 15 years up until his death – and still going on club trips “into his 80s and 90s”.

Ken Medlock celebrating his 100th birthday at Old Trafford cricket ground

His love for the sport led him to present the Wisden Trophy in the 1960s – an award given to the winner of the Test cricket series played between England and the West Indies.

During that decade, he had saved John Wisden & Co, publishers of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack – an historic publication known as “cricket’s bible” – from liquidation.

Son Jeff added: “He was a big family man – very strong in keeping his family together. He strove to achieve things, but was never materialistic, and always stayed very much true to his roots.”