A MAN remembered for his service to the communities of Kendal and South Lakeland has died after a short illness, aged 84.

Ron Clancy was chairman of the Kendal Torchlight Carnival committee for 21 years and involved with the event for a quarter-of-a-century, up until 2006.

He saw the carnival grow from a procession that cost only £8,000 to £100,000 in 2005. He built up the event to draw tens of thousands of spectators, as part of the Kendal Gathering and Kendal Events Association.

And he laid the foundations for a weekend celebration that now generates £1.5 million for the local economy and attracts around 30,000 people.

He was clear what was most important about the celebration and once told the Gazette: “I think that what has shined out for me over the years, is that it is a people's event which is its greatest strength. ”

“A lot of people have grown up with the event and it has become part of the town's cultural heritage which is being passed on through generations of children.”

“It has also become a truly multicultural event which attracts people from all over the country, who used to tell me how much they appreciated the welcome they got from the people of Kendal.”

He said he had seen a lot of changes from a time when the procession was largely made up of lorry floats from local firms to a "foot procession" which he believes has led to a more varied and colourful event.

Mr Clancy, who was born at Holywell, North Wales, in February 1935, experienced many highlights during his tenure, including a group from the Torchlight appearing in the Lord Mayor's Show in London in 1988. The 2001 carnival was one of the only major public events to take place in a county ravaged by foot-and-mouth disease.

Mr Clancy, who worked as a salesman, had tragedy in his life. He was married to Ann and later Pauline and both of them died many years ago. His daughter Justine died in a car accident. In later life he was the loving partner of Kay Ferguson.

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It is said by all who knew him that Mr Clancy was kind hearted, generous and had a wicked sense of humour. He was great show organiser and encouraged everyone else’s creativity and enthusiasm.

Mr Clancy’s legacy as leader of such a successful community celebration is an inspiration to the thousands of people who have been involved in keeping the carnival going.

He died after of cancer at Westmorland General Hospital, Kendal, on April 12.

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