Richard BANCROFT

Richard Bancroft
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Jack of all Trades

From domestic cleaner to teacher

THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Richard Bancroft, postman, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.


Richard, a recently retired postman from Gosforth, joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 before serving with the Royal Engineers during the Second World War.


Through his long career with the GPO, Richard became a well liked and respected member of the local community. Stories of his kindness and helfulness, including his annual appearances as Father Christmas, were recalled by his guests, who, in keeping with the seasonal broadcast, each brought Richard a Christmas present.

Richard Bancroft

Richard Bancroft on This Is Your Life

Richard Bancroft Article

Whitehaven News 29 December 1960


GOSFORTH MAN


In “This Is Your Life”


Mr Richard Herbert (Dick) Bancroft, a retired postman living at Gosforth, was featured in the BBC “This Is Your Life” television broadcast on Boxing Day. The broadcast, watched by millions of viewers, was the BBC’s tribute to the Postal Service but the story was that of Dick Bancroft – and a fascinating story it was.


When Dick Bancroft went to London recently he thought he was going to take part in a GPO film. He little knew that he was to be greeted by BBC commentator Eamonn Andrews and appear on television screens throughout the country.


After being introduced by Mr Andrews, Dick was amazed to see the Seascale sub-postmaster, Mr Robert Williamson, appear on the stage to tell of his devotion to duty in the postal service.


RIVER RESCUE


Then came a reunion with Dick’s sister, Mrs Winifred Garrett, whom he had not seen for 34 years. Mrs Garrett told how, at the age of 13 years, Dick, fully clothed, dived into the River Avon to bring out the body of a woman.


She also told how Dick joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 and a half years and was later loaned to the Australian Navy with which he served seven years.


It was while on holiday at Oockermouth that Dick Bancroft met the girl who was later to become his wife – and what a pleasant surprise it was for him to see her come onto the platform and take her place by his side.


MANY MEMORIES


After Mrs Bancroft came a succession of people bringing presents for Dick and piecing together the story as brought to light by Ronald Vivian.


Barbara Armstrong, of the Woolpack Inn, Eskdale, told how Dick used to insist on helping with the washing-up after he’d had his Christmas dinner at the inn, and his many kindnesses to her family.


From Major Cyril Lee came an account of Mr Bancroft’s service with the Royal Engineers in the 1939-45 war and Anneke Kloet-Abranharnsee, a Dutch girl told how the Gosforth ex-postman became a friend of her family in Holland.


Mr John Steele, a Gosforth postman and clerk to the Parish Council; Miss Edie Long, of Wasdale Head; Mrs Rene Coupe, of the Globe Hotel, Gosforth; Mrs Mary Nolan, of Boot Post Office, Eskdale, and Mr John D Eilbeck, assistant postmaster at Whitehaven, all paid tribute to a kindly, helpful man who was overwhelmed by their gifts and stories.


FROM AUSTRALIA


In good Cumberland dialect, Mr Bancroft’s younger son, Joe, told something of his father’s story.


Then came the climax. Out of a giant Christmas cracker stepped Bert Bancroft, Dick’s elder son, from Australia. The two had not met for eleven years and the reunion was a most affecting scene.


There was nearly a slip-up. By coincidence Dick and his son from Australia had been booked in at the same London hotel. Had they met, the climax to the story would have been ruined. Fortunately, an alert receptionist spotted the mistake and Bert was hurriedly transferred to another hotel.


Richard Bancroft Article

Whitehaven News 9 May 1967


‘THIS IS YOUR LIFE’ MAN DIES


Mr R H Bancroft


The death occurred at West Cumberland Hospital on Saturday of Mr Richard Herbert Bancroft, of Gosforth Gate, a former postman in the Seascale, Ennerdale, Gosforth area.


Mr Bancroft, known to his friends as “Dick” and described by the Head postmaster at Whitehaven, Mr J G Hey, as a conscientious, well liked and respected person, started life with the GPO as a postman in Seascale.


Previous to joining the GPO, Mr Bancroft served in the Royal Navy from 1918 to 1926, the Royal Australian Navy from 1926 to 1936, and in the Army from 1943 to 1946.


On Boxing Day 1960, six months before he retired, Mr Bancroft was the subject of the BBC programme “This Is Your Life”, the climax of which was being re-united with his son, Richard, whom he had not seen for many years and who had flown from Australia with his wife and children by the BBC.


Mr Bancroft leaves a widow and two sons, Joseph, who lives in the area, and Richard, who is in Australia.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 144
  • Subject No: 144
  • Broadcast date: Mon 26 Dec 1960
  • Broadcast time: 6.55-7.25pm
  • Recorded: Mon 28 Nov 1960 8.30-9pm
  • Venue: BBC Television Theatre
  • Series: 6
  • Edition: 15

on the guest list...

  • Robert Williamson
  • Winifred Garrett
  • Eleanor Bancroft – wife
  • Barbara Armstrong
  • Major Cyril Lee
  • Anneke Kloet-Abranharnsee
  • John Steele
  • Edie Long
  • Rene Coupe
  • Mary Nolan
  • John Eilbeck
  • Joe Bancroft – son
  • Bert Bancroft – son

production team...

  • Researcher: Ronald Vivian
  • Writer: Ronald Vivian
  • Director: Michael Goodwin
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
Series 6 subjects: Leonard Cheshire > George Bennett > David Sheppard > Sybil Thorndike > Clarence Wolfe > Charles Coward > T E B Clarke > Helene Jeanty-Raven > Cyril Smith > Victor de Spiganovicz > Bill Hartley > Ellen Martha Field > Anthony Deane-Drummond > John Mills > Richard Bancroft > Freddie Mills > William Simpson > Alan Herbert > Madame Vacani > Elizabeth Ambridge > Robert Fawcus > Flora Robson > Edward Chad Varah > James Zarb > Maryan Rawicz and Walter Landauer > James Chipperfield > Anthony Kimmins > Thomas Cosmo Jones > Jessie Matthews > Helen Wilson > Charlie Chester > Brunel Cohen > Godfrey Winn > Billy Wright