Obituary: Charlie Sneddon OBE, 83

Charles Sneddon devoted his life to the town of Bo'ness. Picture: comp
Charles Sneddon devoted his life to the town of Bo'ness. Picture: comp
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Charlie Sneddon OBE, a former Provost of Bo’ness, has died, aged 83.

Charles Sneddon was devoted to furthering the fortunes of Bo’ness, and served as its provost from 1964-75 and never ceased supporting the town both commercially and as a place to visit. From 1959, he was a councillor and then served as vice-convener of the Central Region from 1975 and convener from 1986-90. He brought to all these posts a keen sense of integrity and a commitment to helping others that remained paramount throughout his life.

In 1984, Mr Sneddon was awarded the OBE. Many local friends joked that it stood for Outstanding Bo’ness Efforts. It was a reflection on his standing in the community and the admiration and respect with which he was held.

Charles was one of six brothers and a sister and attended Bo’ness Academy. He first worked in shipping but progressed to jobs with Fisons and then BP Petrochemical at Grangemouth.

His work on the reclamation of land on the south side of the Forth – the site of the old Bo’ness port – was hugely important and the development created a much-improved environment.

In 1964, Mr Sneddon became the youngest provost in Scotland, and fought to improve the housing in Bo’ness. He was devoted to his family, the Labour Party and Scotland.

Sneddon’s son, also named Charles, remembers his father as “always preserving Bo’ness uppermost in his heart. He wanted to improve the living conditions and bring more work to the area. Dad was a modest man and seldom sang his own praises. He was a good and generous man.”

One of his great annual joys was the Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival.

As provost, Sneddon was always keen to praise local endeavour. When he opened the Deanburn Primary School in 1971, he praised the headmaster, James Vallance, saying: “In these few short months he has worked wonders.”

In 2007, he unveiled a memorial to mining and the miners of the area. He had campaigned for such a memorial for many years and, along with the Bo’ness Pipe Band and the Kinneil and Unisor Brass Band, unveiled a mine-winding machine in their honour.

In 1996, Mr Sneddon was a awarded the coveted McLaren Trophy which is given annually by the community council to a person or group for outstanding services to Bo’ness.

Sneddon was an avid supporter of Bo’ness FC and assisted in many ways at Strathcarron Hospice. He was a keen golfer, often playing at the West Lothian course with his brothers. He was instrumental in preserving the future of the club by encouraging members to buy much of the land.

Tam Dalyell spoke warmly of his long friendship with Sneddon. “Charlie was one of my best friends in politics – from the time we were both involved in the Labour Party in 1956. He never said, nor did, anything cheap and was primarily concerned with giving practical help to members of his community. Charlie was a towering figure in local government.”