Memorial service for Kendal's last surviving Honorary Citizen, Percy Duff

First published in News

KENDAL’s last surviving Honorary Citizen was fondly remembered at a memorial service today.

Stricklandgate Methodist Church was packed as people celebrated the life of former Kendal town treasurer Percy Duff, who died aged 89 on December 17.

Readings and personal reflections were shared with the congregation, which gave strong voice to hymns including Hills of the North, Rejoice, and Bread of Heaven.

Percy’s son, Michael, told the congregation that his father would have appreciated the large turn out.

He said: “Percy Duff was a lucky man.

“He was lucky to survive scarlet fever as a child; he was lucky to survive in the Western Desert in 1943 when the man standing next to him was killed by a mortar and he wasn’t; he was lucky to be happily married; he was lucky to suffer from no illness in a long life and he was lucky to live in Kendal for all that time - a place that he loved.”

After working as deputy to Alfred Wainwright, Percy became treasurer of Kendal Borough Council in 1967.

“They were friends, even though they had absolutely nothing in common,” joked Mr Duff.

Percy became deputy treasurer of newly-formed South Lakeland District Council in 1974, a post he held until retiring in 1982.

He continued as Kendal Town Council treasurer for 16 years, retiring in 1998.

After 60 years of service to the town, Percy was the only surviving Honorary Citizen of Kendal.

It was a title he valued more than the MBE he received in 1986, according to his son.

Away from work, Percy was treasurer to numerous local charities, an historian, the author of four books on Kendal, a keen motorcyclist and supporter of Kendal Rugby Club.

An extensive photographic collection he shared with his late wife Margaret often featured in the Gazette.

Percy was president of Westmorland Motor Club and an honorary vice-life president of the Northern Centre Auto-Cycle Union.

His son Michael said his father ‘could not have been more pleased’ when the event was named after him as the ‘Percy Duff Barbon Hill Climb’.

Reverend Michael Harrison, leading the service, said: “Michael described his father as a lucky man.

”Percy himself spoke to me of his life in similar terms.

“Fortunately, on more than one occasion, he was in the right place at the right time.

“There seems to be a randomness about the opportunities that present themselves, although there are those that say that to some extent you make your own luck.

“Percy took the opportunities that presented themselves and applied himself diligently.”

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