Father Bill, leader of the 59 club, dies
Father Bill Shergold, 89, died in the early hours of Sunday 17th May 2009 at a nursing home in Wells, Somerset, after a short illness.
In the early 1960's, Father Bill was instrumental in introducing a bikers' section into the already flourishing Eton Mission youth club based at Hackney Wick in London's East end. The club was initally founded by Father John Oates and was a great success from the start and gave people from all classes and walks of life a welcome refuge to share in their passion - motorcycles.
Many stars of the time supported the club - most notably Cliff Richard.
Father Graham Hullett (who ran the club with Father Bill) paid this tribute to him;
"Father Bill did so much for the motorcycling fraternity when biking became so popular among young people in the early 60's. The Rockers, as they came to be called, were feared and ostracised by society but Bill opened the already existing 59 Club to them and made it into their own place where they were welcomed and respected.
"A great fellowship developed which was exciting to be a part of and made us proud to be bikers. The 59 Club played a major role in making young rockers, blokes and girls, a welcomed part of society.
"It's major strength was that it was run by its members with few rules, lots of respect and as a result no problems."
59 Club member Len Paterson added;
"The club was simply tremendous. You have to remember that at that time bikers were seen as outcasts. Father Bill and Father Graham created a place were like-minded people, across a huge social mix came together to enjoy themselves"
Father Bill's funeral will be at 4pm 22 May (friday) at St Cutherberts wells Somerset - everyone is very welcome.