RHONA BENNETT POINTON by Shirley Mitchell
You will perhaps know that Rhona was a very dear and long standing friend of mine. We became friends when she moved to Rochdale as a very new mother. She lived around the block and we soon discovered a short cut through our neighbour’s garden to make visiting easy! She readily joined the group of mothers with young children. Although her skills and talents as an architect were temporarily submerged while she cared for the first of three children, they quite soon emerged again.
With the help of a wonderful young person called Janet who came to live with the Bennett family and stayed for many years, she began to work again in her chosen field, first for Horwich Urban Council from 1959 to 1968 and then for the Rochdale Borough Architects Department from 1968-1990
During this time, she completed the building for the Police Headquaters, was project architect for the Magistrates Courts, the Horsecars Old Persons home, the Gaskill Pool in Heywood, and for a huge housing development on Division Street She was team leader of the Envelope and Block Improvements Scheme in Rochdale which was commended in the Enterprise Scheme Competition, and she was awarded by the Local Authority for her achievement in setting this up and designing it. During this time she remarried. Upon retirement, she was thanked and told that she had saved 1000 houses in Rochdale from demolition. This list of professional achievements is only a partial list!
On a volunteer basis she energetically threw herself into all manner of things. She was a collector of donations for the NSPCC, a council member for the Manchester Society of Architects, a representative on the Regional Council to the R.I.B.A., a life member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, was instrumental in the building of the Bamford Community Centre, and was Vice Chairman of the Rochdale Civic Society. She took on the job of Lady Captain of the Stand Golf Club in Whitefield for a year in her retirement. This is just to name a few of her contributions to her many communities.
In order for me to underline her amazing gifts, her enthusiasm and energies, I first needed to tell you about achievements in her professional world and about those things she did without being paid. And now I can say were it not for Rhona the Rochdale Music Society would never have existed. In 1979, spurred on by David John, the then director of the Arts and Entertainments Department, she inaugurated the Society with the idea of bringing the best affordable classical music to Rochdale. She brought together a small group of interested people to form the society and became the Chairman of Promotion and Publicity. The first season under the chairmanship of Kip Heron got off to an exciting beginning with the Amadeus Quartet followed by three other groups, Julian Lloyd Webber, the London Mozart Players, and the Tortelier Trio (father, son and daughter). When Rhona retired from the committee, she was made a Vice President of the Society. In 2001-2, she again began working for the society. She researched the archives and with information from others, compiled the Anniversary Book called “The History of the Rochdale Music Society, the first 21 Years” which took over 18 months to complete. This book received excellent press reviews.
Her husband, Trevor Pointon, who was a colleague architect in the Rochdale Borough Architect’s Department, has been her soul mate, golf partner, supporter, and in the last difficult years, her special companion and devoted carer.
The Rochdale Music Society and Rochdale owe Rhona an enormous debt of gratitude for her vision, her wonderful energies, her attention to detail, and her talent to motivate people around her.