A tribute from Sue Murray – a friend and then Chair of the Parish Council
Frank’s Address 11 January 1999
In terms of public spiritedness, Frank, though small in physical stature, was built on the grand scale of things. He was indeed an especially special person in that throughout his entire life he willingly was of service to others when “to be of service” was not a fashionable thing to be.
A little like a stick of rock, Frank did not have Brighton or Blackpool stamped through him, but Borough Green. In everything he did, it was to champion either the village or those living in it. He managed to enrich the lives of everyone who has lived here whether it was for a long or short time during the last half of this century.
He was terrier-like in his tenacity in not letting go of an idea or project and could, sometimes, become mole-like and go to ground when you least wanted him to. He was a man of exacting standards and if he felt that somehow those standards were no longer being met, a staccato like ‘phone call would ensue with Frank off the ‘phone no sooner than he was on it.
I think Frank viewed the ‘phone as a modern day instrument of torture so fast was the delivery of the missive, and so quick the replacement of the receiver!
He was not an outwardly demonstrative man and had a gentle humour about him.
Sometimes I was able to tease him without his realising what was happening and on realisation of the leg pull, a lovely smile would cross his face as he looked sideways at me under the brim of his hat.
Frank’s achievements in public life are a wonder to behold. They began in 1947 when, as a member of the Committee of the Recreation Ground Improvement Fund he, with others, set out to raise the extra money needed to top up a grant received from a Ministry. This extra money would provide football and cricket pitches, a children’s playground and tennis courts. This all happened just after WW 2 ended, at a time of rationing and general shortages and the village as we know it about a quarter its present size. Led by Frank, through assorted fund raising events much more than the £800 needed was raised. The extra monies went to help build a pavilion for which Frank became Hon Secretary to the Building Fund.
64 volunteers built the pavilion and thus began the legend of Borough Green, the Do It Yourself Village. Next on the list came a bowling green when Frank once again was Hon Secretary to the Building Committee. Dissatisfaction with a contactors quotation made Frank and his volunteers lay the links themselves. When the job was finished, the green was pronounced the best for miles around and continues to be thought so to this day. The Rec was by now looking very good but required the finishing touch of an imposing entrance. The materials were duly acquired with Frank acting as honorary labourer to the bricklayer. Frank felt that everyone’s efforts were amply rewarded at the official opening of the Recreation Ground by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh in his role as President of the National Playing Fields Association.
By now Frank was the father of four children and set up the Invicta Youth Club eventually becoming its Chairman. At the same time he was also involved in running the Football Club – having played in the team in earlier days and acting as linesman later on. His net stretched out to the Cricket Club, the Church and embraced the Parents & Old Scholars Association at the Primary School We should not forget that this man with indefatigable energy also had his “Day Job” at the Gas Board!
40 years ago we did not have a village hail, but Frank once again became a leading light and visionary as to what was needed. As soon as the first £1000 had been raised towards its cost, he was to be found organising teams of willing hands to help build the Hall and the car park. I am sure Frank never know at the start of any project exactly where the money would come from, but he knew from somewhere it would surely come!
His involvement with the Primary School tasted 50 years first as a parent, then as Chairman of what is now the Parents Association, as a School Manager, a Governor and latterly as a Friend to the School. He was instrumental in acquiring funds and expertise to build the swimming pool and was justifiably proud that no child ever left the School without knowing how to swim.
He was a man who did not like waste. Five years ago when wooden desks were being replaced by tables, Frank enquired as to the fate of the desks. “Scrap” he was informed. Frank knew better. He decided to recycle them and turned them into smart tables and stools. The scrap raised the best part of £1000!
So in total, Frank spent 35 years as a Parish Councillor which included tour spells as its Chairman and as such he had a major hand in shaping the Borough Green we know today.
On his retirement from local politics he became Warden of Potters Mede for 13 years which made his involvement with the Parish Council of similar length to that he enjoyed with the School. Shortly before retiring from his duties as Warden, Frank, one sunny morning, was found on the roof of Potters Mode, taking a panoramic photo of the field – photography and photographs recording events being just one more of his passions. He knew the Parish Council would like to know which way the drains ran and in the drought conditions prevailing at the time, the lines of the drains stood out perfectly, providing they could be viewed from above. Frank seized this perfect photo opportunity with no consideration given to being 75 years old.
Getting on in years, Frank began yet another chapter in his still busy life by becoming an author. He researched and wrote two books. Frank was prodded and cajoled into writing his first book by the then Head teacher of his much loved Primary School, who finally persuaded him to share his knowledge of local history with us and so ‘Elementary and Primary Education in Borough Green – A Friendly Glimpse’ came to be written. Frank had been very uncertain about this venture into writing, but if the Head had told him he could do it, then do it he would. It must have been one of the few times in his life that Frank took direction from someone else. His second book ‘Borough Green Past and Present’ then followed.
Frank Bangay was a modest man and also the least showy person I have known. He had in essence “been there, done that and got the T-shirt” a generation before this phrase came into being – and he rarely, if ever, wore the T-shirt of his achievements. These achievements have largely gone unsung. All his life he had a thirst for knowledge coupled with a great love for his village. With his vast collection of memorabilia he became the unofficial village archivist, the font of all knowledge, parochial and historical. He was generous in his assistance to all who beat a path to his door, whether they were from near or far, young and old alike.
He was a guardian of our local heritage and, as such, we owe him a debt of gratitude.
Frank would not, I think, have achieved quite so much without the blessing and involvement of Edna and Freda in all aspects of his public life. His sons, daughters, step-daughter and grandchildren also helped Frank form his ideas. They, and those following on, were part of the future he wanted to provide for, and what a legacy he has left us.