Jim Hensman - a modest man with a lot to be proud of
One of The West Fife Villages Community Planning Group's founder members, Jim Hensman, died in March and the tremendous attendance at his funeral paid testimony of the affection and respect he enjoyed.
The following comments advise those who did not know Jim of his contribution to Saline and Steelend, the West Fife villages and beyond.
At Jim's funeral service the Rev Alec Shuttleworth asked how people would describe him. “Since his death he has been variously described as one of the giants of the community giving so much of himself in the care of others, a kind and thoughtful guy, an amazing polite man and a true gentleman, talented and kind unflappable and a joy to be with, and one in a million. All of these are true and none of them is enough”
He then described a "motorbiking boxer, a footballer who played at Southampton in front of 54,000 fans, a bus driving buccaneer adventurer who drove aid across Europe to the Soviet Union”
Rev Shuttleworth went on to describe a note found in Jim's papers that said “This is my code of practice. I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again”
Jim was born on the 6th of July 1935, moved to Gosport at the outbreak of WW2. On leaving school he got an apprenticeship at Portsmouth Dockyard. He worked with the MOD in various capacities until retiring in 1992. He spent several postings in Gibraltar, which he enjoyed before moving to Rosyth Dockyard and settling in Saline. One of his proudest moments was escorting the Queen when she visited the Dockyard in 1988. Sadly his wife died in 1990 and he later married Liz in 1996.
Within a week of retiring, Jim was driving aid lorries to Russia for an English-based Christian organisation and, with a close friend, went on to to establish the Edinburgh based charity, St Andrews Aid Relief, that ran for 13 years.
Jim obtained buses from Stagecoach, removed the seats and used them to ship aid to Russia. On one trip he went to the assistance of our own Kay Jackson when the vehicle she was in overturned en route to St Petersburg. Jim was first on the scene and must have been worried about what he would find. Fortunately, she was ok.
By 2006 the situation in Russia had eased and the charity disbanded but Jim did not relax. Along with his good friend, John Crane, Jim threw himself into working in the Saline and Steelend community, the West Fife Villages Forum and the West Fife Community Planning Group. He served as chair of the community council and displayed his customary consideration for others.
He loved helping with the annual bonfire night and was responsible for securing lorry loads of wood, selling raffle tickets and helping to prepare the bonfire and clearing up afterwards.
He particularly enjoyed going round the schools to collect children's work for the West Fife Villages Exhibition of Art and Photography. Add in his duties as a conscientious elder in Saline and Blairingone Church and you have a man devoted to helping others.
Jim and John's contributions to our community were recognised by awards at a packed celebration in 2016. Unfortunately, John died shortly afterwards and Jim missed him badly. In 2017 Jim was chosen as the Saline and Steelend Citizen of the Year.
Jim was kind and generous, never lost his temper, never swore and never put himself first. He coped with major surgery and poor health in his latter years with his usualdignity and tolerance.
Liz described Jim as the best husband that she could have wished for but Jim would have been the first to acknowledge her devotion to him, not least her nursing as his health declined.
Jim's passing leaves a huge gap in our lives and he will be sorely missed.
Photo above shows, from left - David Chisholm, John Crane, Provost Jim Leishman, Jim Hensman and Fife Councillor Bobby Clelland at John and Jim's presentation in 2016.