Pensioner single-handedly fighting for community shopping centre collapses at crucial meeting and dies (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Pensioner single-handedly fighting for Redcar shopping centre collapses at crucial meeting and dies
A PENSIONER who spent three years masterminding a community shopping centre collapsed at a crucial meeting and died the next day, leaving the future of his scheme in doubt.
Fred Wood, who was in his seventies, was planning to open ten community-owned shops on the site of a derelict BP garage on Roseberry Road in Redcar.
Over three years Mr Wood managed to find occupiers for all ten plots and had got an architect to start drawing up plans. All he needed was to secure the land from Redcar council to get his pet project underway.
But at 2pm last Thursday (March 7), minutes before a meeting where discussions were due to take place, Mr Wood collapsed.
He was taken to hospital and after making a recovery was allowed home, but died suddenly around lunchtime on Friday.
Malcolm Robinson was the architect working for Mr Wood.
He said: “There was a shopping centre on Roseberry Road but it didn’t have a post office in it, so Fred took it on himself to get one built, got a new site going and it turned into this.
“I’d been working with him for two years when he passed away and I don’t know what we’re going to do now. I can’t imagine the thing going ahead without him but we have to do it for his sake.
“We’re trying to get the meeting reconvened at the moment. By the end of this month we have to have the proposals together because the council are now accepting bids for the land. If it goes ahead we should call it ‘The Woodlands’ in his honour.”
A spokesman for the council confirmed that the original meeting had been cancelled but said that no meeting had been scheduled to replace it.
Ian Swales, MP for Redcar, said: “I’m very sad to hear this. The project Fred was trying to make happen is very important and would be a great asset to the area.
“What happens next is that we have to decide what happens next. He was the driving force and the energy behind it but we cannot let this die with him.”
The shops were to include a hairdressers and a furniture repair shop which would have brought jobs and money to the area, as well as giving apprenticeships to young people.
Ian Miles, the manager of Scott’s Pharmacy on Roseberry Road, said Mr Wood was always stopping by to let him know how the project was going.
He said: “Fred was one in a million, really involved with the community and always had something going on. I wish I had the energy he had.”