Midgley is the name and one revered in the city’s political circles.
Pat Midgley was Sheffield Councilor for 33 years, who campaigned until the end of her life in March 2020.
His daughter Joanna Midgley will become Deputy Head of Manchester Council next month.
Like Pat, Joanna became a counselor in middle age.
Now 57 years old, she says: “I don’t remember my age anymore, my mother took years on hers but it finally caught up with her! “
Joanna grew up in the Granville Road area near Park Hill. Her mother Pat was born, raised, and lived her entire life in the Manor Castle Council Quarter, which covers Park Hill.
A mother of two, Joanna attended school at Manor Lodge Primary School and Norfolk Comprehensive in Arborthorne.
She then went on to study social sciences at what she calls Manchester Poly.
Her mother became a counselor in 1987 and served until her death at the age of 82. Pat made the decision to run for office in his late forties, but politics has always been a part of his life.
“She has always been involved in the Labor Party, I remember being sent leaflets for Labor in the region with my brothers,” says Joanna, who has two brothers Jamie and Neil.
“She was secretary of the local labor group and when she decided to run as a counselor, I campaigned for her.
“She was always involved in committees, organizing trips to the seaside, raising funds, so if some could not pay, they had pocket money.
“She regularly attended Victoria Methodist Church and ran the youth club.”
Behind the scenes was her husband Don, now 89, leading his wife around. Joanna says, “Mom was still working, always busy.
“Politics was something we talked about and I’ve always been a political one. In Poly, I was Red Jo, we were a political family.
“In terms of becoming a counselor, I thought it was a really thankless job. We were going to dinner and mom had to answer the phone to sort out someone’s problems. It was not a job I wanted to do and now I will be Deputy Chef in Manchester in December!
“I have always been involved in the Labor Party and the turning point came when we lost the election in 2010. I realized we were facing decades of Tory rule so I got involved locally.
“Before I knew it, I was asked to become a counselor. My mother was delighted.
It was in 2012 when she was elected Union Councilor for Chorlton Park.
She is now an executive member for health and care. Perhaps his daughters Hattie, 20, and Lucy, 16, will continue the dynasty.
They all still think of Sheffield. “I love it and always wanted to come back, but couldn’t find the right job.
“I was offered a job in the Homelessness Department of Manchester City Council and then trained as a teacher, which I did for 20 years.
“I come to see my dad every weekend and I loved living in both cities. What I love about Sheffield is that it’s very friendly. I went to Bramall Lane recently and the first thing the program vendor called me was Flower. I miss that.
“I love both Manchester and Sheffield because both are vibrant and diverse cities with proud and radical histories. Manchester could however benefit from greater availability of Henderson Relish.
When it comes to football, Jo’s Twitter profile says he’s a Sheffield United supporter …. character building. Brother Jamie is an owl, so the Midgley house has been divided. Papa Don worked on the turnstiles of both courts, which gave the children a choice. “I picked the Blades because Tony Currie was in his prime,” explains Joanna.
What about this political dynasty? “She’s one of the middle aged women!” I never really sat down to think about it. Mom was a huge influence on me and becoming Deputy Chef came quickly.
“Our boss resigned in May, the assistant got the vacancy and I wondered if I could do the assistant job.
“I was like ‘what would mom say?’ She looks like yes, you can very well! She had a huge influence on the decisions I made.
“The thing about her politics was that she was a maker, always on the move. A visit to her house wore me out. She was always at a meeting, inviting people over to the house, people just coming.
Pat was born in Park Hill Lane before the apartments were built and turned 11 and over to attend high school.
“She always remembered a time when she was asked to read a poem to her class,” says Joanna. “She was ridiculed for her accent. This gave her a sense of injustice and she became a champion of comprehensive education.
“I was offered a scholarship to Girls’ High School. She disagreed with private education but left the decision to me. I decided not to go.
“She lived by her standards.”
Pat was a former Lord Mayor, Magistrate and School Governor for over 50 years. She also received a Women of Sheffield Award in 2019, hosted by The Star.
And there’s a road named after him in Park Hill. Joanna said: “She was passionate about the improvements to Park Hill and she would have been so happy, though completely in disbelief, to know that a road is named after her in the heart of the new complex and to see the final phases come to life. “
Pat was president of housing in the 1990s and led Park Hill’s application for English Heritage Grade II listed building status, responding at the time to criticism from a skeptical public of the benefits of such a move. This decision led to the regeneration of Park Hill.
She was due to retire in May 2020 to relax and spend more time caring for her husband for the past 60 years. But she caught the coronavirus and was the first politician in the UK to die from it.
Paying homage to her mother at the time, Jo said, “She was and always will be my hero.
“A wonderful, caring, selfless and generous person, able to make everyone feel immediately welcome and loved – usually with endless cups of tea, cakes, scones and sandwiches!
“She was committed and dedicated to her family and friends and always tried to keep people together and connected.
“She loved meeting up – and could cook an impromptu buffet in record time – and it’s hard to imagine one without her.”
Her tribute added: “Mom was a formidable and tenacious fighter for social justice. She introduced me and my brothers to politics from an early age and her values shaped mine.
“I am so grateful to him for that despite the endless hours of distributing leaflets that I had to do as a child!
“Until March 17th, she was working hard, as usual, as a local councilor representing the people of the Manor Castle area.
“At the age of 82, her continued energy and dedication to improving the lives of others was truly inspiring. His weekly schedule often tired me!
“She had planned to step down in May to make things easier and spend more time caring for her father, but unfortunately that was not the case.
“They would have been married for 61 years in June and had such a loving and strong bond. Dad will be lost without her. Mom was also an amazing nannan to Hattie, Lucy, Theo, Jude and Madeleine whom she loved.
“We are all heartbroken not only because we lost the linchpin of our family, but because of how sick and deceased it was.
“In typical Pat Midgley style, she was fiery until the end despite her weakness. She knew what she wanted and what she wanted.
“She refused the morphine because she wanted to keep fighting.”
Right before her death, Pat told Joanna about her sister Rebecca. Sadly, Rebecca was stillborn in 1967, something her mother said little about until the end of her life at Northern General. The doctors had told Pat she wouldn’t live so she started talking to Joanna about Rebecca.
“Our family never talked about it. People didn’t. But mom told me Rebecca was full term and wanted her to have a proper funeral. We had her name inscribed on Mom’s gravestone.
This recognition of stillborn babies was something Pat had campaigned for. “This was a very important issue for mom and one she fought for in the 1980s.”
She remained on the political right until the end, insisting on voting for Keir Starmer in the Labor leadership election despite being hospitalized.
“Mom said she had something to say and I thought it was a terrible family secret. As it turned out, she hadn’t voted for Keir and wouldn’t forgive herself if she didn’t. I got his PIN for the vote and we did it.
She had campaigned until the end, on the streets just hours before Boris Johnson announced the over-70s should stay indoors on March 16.
“If the lockdown had come sooner, she would still be with us.
“Her goal was to improve people’s lives, it came from her background, her education, her fight against poverty. I feel the same.”