A POPULAR entertainer known as 'Mr Country and Western' has died at the age of 78 following a battle with dementia.

Jack Crosskell, known to many by his stage name 'Mark Darrell', passed away at the Riverside Care Home on January 28.

He was born in Lancaster on February 3, 1939, to parents Dick and Ethel. When his parents separated, he spent time between them in Kendal and Lancaster, before going off to attend school near Woking in Surrey.

Upon leaving school, he became a military policeman with the Middlesex Regiment, serving in Germany and Cyprus, while he also played saxaphone in the military band.

In 1971, having moved to Middlesbrough, Mr Crosskell, became a professional entertainer.

His roots in entertainment went back to his days in Kendal, however, as he had been a key part of band Wee Willie Henry and The Wanderers.

Alongside Malcolm Heslop, Kevin Miller, Mike Langdon and several different drummers, the group played all over the north west until they disbanded in 1967.

Mr Crosskell, one of eight siblings, was revered for his country and western performances, both in his native north west and around Humberside where he settled.

"Even though he was my dad I would say he was absolutely brilliant," said son Ian. "He had the audience in his hands straight away – he was just fantastic."

In addition to Ian, Mr Crosskell had four other children: Jackie, Christine, Stephen and Michelle.

Mr Crosskell made his last performance in Kendal's New Inn in October 2010, packed with friends and supporters from South Lakeland and Humberside. When his partner, Susan, died in 2014, he returned to live in Kendal.

"He was a big man," said Ian. "He was very lively and he was loved by a lot of people and always had time for people."

Mr Crosskell will be cremated at Beetham Hall today (February 8) at 2pm, followed by a celebration of his life at Castle Green Hotel, Kendal. All are welcome to attend.