THE widow of Fred Dibnah has been cut out of his will, it was revealed today.
Sheila Dibnah has been left nothing from the celebrity steeplejack’s reported £1 million estate.
Details of his last wishes were revealed to members of his family this week – with everything reportedly divided between his five children.
Mrs Dibnah last night vowed to contest the settlement and has launched a legal bid to have it overturned.
She said: “It was not a completely unexpected announcement. In the last year of Fred’s life he was a very poorly man. His mind was extremely distracted towards the end and I bear that in mind and I hold it close to my thoughts.
“I would hate for his memory to be besmirched by the will and people thinking he has acted selfishly. He was a kind man who was well loved and should be respected for who he was.
“I have solicitors on the case and have launched a reasonable provision claim. In this country it is the right of the wife to be left at least something in a will.
Fred Dibnah was Britain’s unlikeliest superstar. The portly Boltonian was never without his trademark flat cap or waistcoat and made his name through his antics as a steeplejack and undying passion for steam engines.
His personal life was as diverse as the man himself. He spotted his first wife Alison when she was 13 and he was working on her dad’s roof. They next met when she was 19 and started going out. Impatient to marry, they eloped to Gretna Green to tie the knot. The couple were married for 18 years and had three daughters, but it all ended in an acrimonious divorce and unwelcome headlines.
He met and married Sue, 20 years his junior, and they went on to have two sons before this union also ended in divorce. In 1998, he married glamorous Sheila Grundy, with whom he spent six happy years.
Fred was made an MBE in the 2004 New Year’s Honours list for his services to heritage and broadcasting. He always recognised that steeplejacking was dangerous: “One mistake up here, and it’s half a day out with the undertaker” was his cryptic assessment.
The TV personality was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2001 and given just 12 months to live. But he fought the illness with his typical northern grit and eventually lost his battle in November 2005 Specific details of what has been left in his will are expected to be made available next week. Mr Dibnah’s estate is understood to include his house in The Haulgh and his countless steam engines and engine paraphernalia.
Members of Fred’s family were last night remaining tight-lipped about the publication of his will, which also leaves nothing to Nathan, Mrs Dibnah’s son.
(source Saturday, 10 February 2007)