TRIBUTES have poured in for Roly Duke, the man who singlehandedly kept the Sheds community project alive in Redditch.
The former firefighter was diagnosed with lung cancer and bowel cancer just two weeks before his passing and died at his Greenlands home with his wife Tina holding his hand, on December 14.
After Age UK pulled the plug on the Sheds project in Redditch Roly, seeing the value of cherishing the skills and boosting the mental health of the older generation, battled to keep the scheme alive.
Premises were hard to find, but Roly found them, cash was short, but Roly applied for, and won, grants, including £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund, enough to give the project some breathing space and put it on a firm footing.
He also achieved charity status for the project and, said Tina, wouldn’t hesitate to help anyone.
“He was a heating and plumbing engineer by trade but he wanted to be a firefighter and he did it, spending nearly 27 years with West Midlands Fire Service,” she said.
“His next ambition was to keep the Sheds alive, and he did that too.
“The tributes we have received had been overwhelming. People can’t believe he’s gone, I can’t believe his gone.
“We are in shock, but this cancer was just so aggressive.”
Roly and Tina had been married for 48 years, and known each other since they were teenagers.
The couple have three children, Kelly, Lisa and Matthew, and five grandchildren.
Karen Baxter, manager of the Redditch branch of the TSB supported Redditch Community Sheds.
She said: “A lot of people really cared for Roly and he did a lot for charity around Redditch – he was a really beautiful man.
“He will be sorely missed.”
Roly’s funeral is on New Year’s Eve at 11am at Redditch Crematorium, however due to Covid restrictions numbers attending will be strictly limited.
The fire service will be in attendance to give Roly a true firefighters send off.