Wife’s tribute to brave Harry

Harry Kidger
Harry Kidger

A BRAVE Whitby gym owner who took pleasure in keeping troubled youngsters off the rails has died from cancer.

Harry Kidger who owned the Fitness Machine gym in the town’s Skinner Street had been suffering from a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma which is caused by exposure to asbestos.

The 65-year-old fitness fanatic of Holmstead Avenue was diagnosed with the disease in 2009 but was told last year he had just weeks to live.

He passed away at home with his wife Sara by his side on 3 March.

His funeral took place on Tuesday (15 March) at Glaisdale’s St Thomas Church which was packed with friends and family. A PA system was set up outside for those unable to fit inside the church who wanted to pay their respects.

Just three months before Mr Kidger’s death he married Sara at home as his illness worsened.

Mrs Kidger, said up until the end Harry had been brave and never complained about his illness.

He had undergone chemotherapy at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough and experimental drug therapy at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre in Newcastle.

She said: “He always used to say, I don’t know why people say it’s a battle. You just take the treatment you are given. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t. It doesn’t.

“He never mentioned he had cancer. I don’t think he wanted to believe it was going to kill him.”

Mr Kidger was born in Grangetown, Middlesbrough and left school at 16 to take up an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter at ICI Wilton.

His love of fitness started when he began weight training at the ICI Club and at the age of 19, he became a member of the Middlesbrough Co-op Club - now called the Jack Hatfield Club in Acklam Road - where he was a member of the powerlifting team.

He later worked as an assistant engineer at North Tees Power Station, Boulby Potash Mine and British Steel in Hartlepool.

Then for 21 years he was an electrical engineer offshore for BP.

While working for BP he helped establish a gym for workers and the company rolled this out to other rigs thanks to Mr Kidger’s input.

He became self-employed as an electrician in 1995 - the same year he bought the Fitness Machine gym, transforming it to a well equipped gym which is now used by hundreds of members.

In the past Mr Kidger had been a bodybuilder winning accolades including coming second in the North East British Bodybuilding Championships.

His other passions were boxing, Middlesbrough Football Club, rock and roll, healthy eating, reading and industrial history.

Mrs Kidger added: “He just loved the Fitness Machine,” she said. “It was his life. He mentored younsters and tried to encourage the kids that were maybe having trouble at school.

“The school used to allow them to come to the gym from the community college and Harry would take them under his wing, it made a lot of difference to them.

“He was just a genuinely nice person and nothing was too much trouble. He also had a wicked sense of humour.”

Mr Kidger leaves behind Sara, daughters Helen and Amanda from a previous relationship and step children Jack, Sam and Barry, and his sister Irene.