Tributes have been paid to a veteran of the D-Day landings who in later life was a tireless worker for his community, following his death at 90.
Ron Bairstow, of Baildon, founded the village’s Scarecrow Walk in 2008 and helped Baildon in Bloom to win silver awards in 2007 and 2008.
He was a 20-year-old Petty Officer in the Royal Navy when his ship was involved in Operation Overlord, in June 1944. The crew was tasked with positioning itself close and unnoticed near the Normandy coastline to act as a last communications outpost for advancing planes ahead of their drops. He also served in Australia.
After the war, he went on to work in the ladies fashion business, where he met his late wife, Val.
He had his own radio show in Leeds for a time. In his later years he visited nursing homes to read to residents and was a regular speaker for the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Society. He also published and performed his own poetry.
After moving to Baildon he became heavily involved in community life.
Son Bill Bairstow said: “He’ll be hoping that the scarecrow event is his legacy for Baildon.
“Walking through the village had been wonderful, people keep coming up to me saying what a loss it is for Baildon and how he will be greatly missed.”
His son added: “He did 95 per cent of his shopping in Baildon, he loved living there. He had a twinkle in his eye right up until he died and was full of fun. No matter what the event he would always try to make it special.
“He and mum were members of Shipley Glen singers and it was a big part of his life. They lived the life and made the most of what they had.”
In 2009 Mr Bairstow was invited to a heroes’ tea party in Downing Street by Shipley MP Philip Davies, in recognition of his community work.
Mr Davies said: “Ron was an amazing chap who did so much. He was involved in everything and his legacy will last for many years to come.”
West Bowling-born Mr Bairstow developed his love of horticulture while an apprentice gardener at Bowling Cemetery.
Baildon In Bloom presented him with a plaque honouring his work last year. Chairman Wendy Shaw said: “He was a member for as long as it’s been running. He was a real manual worker for In Bloom, a hands-on man.”
Baildon councillor Roger L’Amie (Con), said: “He did a very good job over the years and his death is a great loss to the village.”
Mr Bairstow died peacefully at Burley Hall Nursing Home on Monday, January 21, following pneumonia-related complications.
A service celebrating his life will be held at Baildon Methodist Church on Monday starting at 11.45am. His family have asked for any donations to be made to the Alzheimer’s Society.