Pillar of community will be sadly missed - LEAVE YOUR MESSAGES OF CONDOLENCE

TRIBUTES have been paid to Cec Mowthorpe, a man renowned for his knowledge of Hunmanby and airships, whose funeral took place yesterday.

Mr Mowthorpe, 80, took over the running of HC Mowthorpe, funeral directors, when his father died in 1953.

But he also became famous for his books on the history of the area and his fascination with airships.

Herbert Cecil Mowthorpe, who was Hunmanby born and bred, ran the firm for more than 30 years until it was sold to B Raper, funeral director, in Scarborough.

After the First World War the increase in summer visitors often required the firm to carry out funerals in all parts of the country and, according to the records, this called for elaborate procedures with the railway companies although his father later became a pioneer in the movement of funerals by road.

The two World Wars, when military personnel were garrisoned in the area also meant close collaboration with the military authorities.

His father, together with the late Mr Boddy of Bridlington, started the Bridlington branch of the National Association of Funeral Directors in 1939.

It merged with the Scarborough branch in 1980 and Cec Mowthorpe became an active member.

After the Hunmanby firm was sold Mr Mowthorpe carried on with his hire car and taxi firm.

But it was his work as an author that also spread his name far and wide.

Mr Mowthorpe, who had an extensive library of pictures, including those of buildings long disappeared, published a book in 1987 about the village's war-time experiences.

The 50-page book entitled "A Village at War" was intended to be definitive version of the village's role in the Second World War.

Mr Mowthorpe, who was chairman of Hunmanby Local History Group, said at the time he had spent six months researching and writing it and it sold so well that copies reached many other countries including Australia, Canada and America and he also intended to write about the history of the parish council.

Thirty years of research and hard work also paid off when his book "Battlebags" was published in 1995.

It was said to be the first book to record and describe every British airship built or used during World War One. He also described the development of the airships in the years leading up to that war. At the time it cost 25 to buy and contained a selection of 150 rare black and white photographs.

He spent hours at the public records office and Mr Mowthorpe, who had been a pilot since he was 16, said he had been fascinated with airships since the long-gone days of the R100s.

Several years later his book "Sky Sailors" was also published about the world's airshipmen and in 1996 he brought out another book – Hunmanby Remembered – about the village from 1800 to 1939.

He was an active member of Cross and Cockafe, the society of First World War aviation historians.

Mr Mowthorpe, who lived in Stonegate, served for many years on Bridlington Rural Council and also Hunmanby Parish Council. He also stood as an independent candidate in the 1973 Scarborough District Council elections for the Hunmanby, Flixton, Folkton, Reighton, Speeton and Muston Ward.

Mr Mowthorpe, who had been treasurer of the trustees of God’s Acre, the village’s burial ground, and whose family was linked with the former Hunmanby Primitive Methodist Chapel in Hungate, regularly attended both All Saints Church and Cross Hill Methodist Church.

He leaves his wife, Yolande, two grown-up children and five grandchildren.

The Rev Jeff Hattan, vicar of All Saints, said: “He was a meticulous, thorough and dedicated man in all that he did. He had a lively sense of humour and nature and was a pillar of the community. He will be much missed.”

The Rev Peter Kindleysides, the former Methodist minister at Cross Hill, said: “He was a very gentlemanly sort of man and he would do anything possible he could to help anybody. He was a real expert on Hunmanby and used to give illustrated talks about the history of the village. He was much liked and respected because of the way he went about his work.”