South Leeds Life is sorry to announce the death of Hazel Dawson (née Barker), a well-known stalwart of the Middleton community.
Hazel was born in Bradford in 1942, but was taken straight into care and grew up in children’s homes across the UK – mainly on the Isle of Man. In her late teens, Hazel moved back to Bradford to live with one of her aunts, first working in the mills then later as a nurse. She especially gained expertise in working with the elderly, which led to her moving to south Leeds (Stourton, Hunslet, then later Middleton) in the 1960s. At this time, she became the victim of domestic violence – but this didn’t stop her working her way up to become the highly respected manager of the Council’s home for the elderly in Rothwell.
Hazel was a much loved mother, grandmother and later great-grandmother – and over the years in Middleton, became a great friend and mother to many others. She also became heavily involved in the life of the nearby St Cross church over the years. She was a very long-serving churchwarden, and a linchpin of the congregation there – but was someone always very keen to ensure that their faith was relevant and of service to those outside the walls of the church. Her faith did not stop at people either: she loved animals and was well known for her love of butterflies!
She was very involved in helping to set up and establish the Crossroads youth project, and supported many other projects including Middleton Elderly Aid and the new foodbank. Hazel is also fondly remembered simply as a strong role-model in the community: an adviser, an encourager, a peace-maker, and more. In these ways, it seems Hazel married up her love for Middleton, and her committed Christian faith. And in 2010, her faith led her much further afield – when she joined an overseas trip to Romania with 50+ others from Leeds, to help support community projects at the Bethlehem Centre in the town of Hunedoara.
Finally, Hazel was a keen learner who had hoped to become a licensed reader at St Cross. This is something she sadly did not complete before she passed away.
Several of those closest to Hazel have talked of her seeming to sense that her time in this world was coming to an end. But equally, her life story continues to resonate in the lives of many people – inspiring us to live generous lives, in the service of others, and to rise above the challenges that life throws as us. Hazel passed away on Tuesday 23 September 2014, and was remembered at a packed memorial service at St Cross on Wednesday 8 October. She is greatly missed by her family and the wider Middleton community.