The 27th January was a sad day at the Paget’s Association when we heard that one of our most loyal volunteers and Honorary Patron, Ron Taft, had passed away at the age of 94.
Ron was a Trustee of the Paget’s Association for many years, representing the interest of those with the condition. In 2014, in recognition of his work, he was made an Honorary Patron of the Association. Sue, our Office Manager who had known Ron for twenty years said, “Ron was a true gentleman, who ensured the concerns of sufferers were brought to the attention of the Board.”
Born in Manchester in 1923, Ron left school at fourteen and at sixteen became an apprentice electrician with William Arnolds Coach builders. In March 1942, at the age of nineteen, He was called up for the Army, serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, in the Orkneys, France, Belgium, and Holland. He later served in the army of occupation in Germany, and, on being demobbed in 1947, returned to his job in the motor trade. A change of occupation a short while later saw Ron working in the newspaper industry, employed on electrical maintenance, which he continued up to his retirement.
A few years into retirement Ron was diagnosed with Paget’s disease and in an article he wrote for Paget’s News in 2014, he said “it was a bewildering and depressing time, I visualised that the whole of my skeleton was falling apart.” He went on to say that he was given hope when he read an advertisement in the Manchester Evening News about a local support group in Manchester for Paget’s sufferers. Meetings were held every month and he found his experience was not unique, and was encouraged to learn that there were medical specialists locally, who understood Paget’s disease. Ron and his wife Elsie, who sadly passed away in 2016, took an active interest in the group and in the mid to late 1990s Ron took on the role of Chair, of what became known as the South Manchester Group. Over the years, many people newly diagnosed with Paget’s turned to Ron for help in coping with the condition. One member of the group commented after Ron’s death, “While Elsie made me a drink, Ron sat and listened to my concerns. It was such a relief to have someone to talk to who knew exactly what I was going through.”
Encouraged by other members from the South Manchester Group, Ron applied to become a Trustee of the Paget’s Association. Over the years he had met and talked on the phone to many newly diagnosed people with Paget’s disease and was very well aware of their concerns, along with the problems which can be encountered by long term patients. In Ron’s own words he said, “I found it extremely interesting to meet up with the medical professionals on the Board. I felt that the meetings were constructive and that I, in some small way played a part in improving the way of life of sufferers of Paget’s.”
Professor Graham Russell, the Associations President, said, "Ron gave exceptional service to the charity. Through the South Manchester group which he chaired, and his many years as a Trustee he gave support to countless sufferers. Ron and Elsie were regular and loyal attenders at charity events, and it was always a pleasure to spend time in their company. We owe them both a great debt of gratitude and they will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with their daughters, Marilyn and Janice.”
In 2017, Ron attended a Paget's Information Day and took part in a video/DVD to explain how Paget's disease affected him and how the Paget's Association supported him for many years. In this way, Ron will continue to support those with Paget's disease.
The photo above shows Elsie and Ron with Chairman, Professor Roger Francis and the one below, Ron and Elsie (2nd and 3rd from the left) with the North Manchester Support Group.