A SOUTH LAKES man who was a founding committee member of the Kendal Civic Society, as well as an RAF pilot during the Second World War, has died aged 97.

Alan Strickland Thompson was born in Kendal, the youngest of four children, and attended Kendal Grammar School.

In 1941 he joined the RAF and the year after went to train in America, initially learning to fly Tiger Moths.

After getting his wings he returned to the UK and mostly flew Dakota transport planes - taking supplies around the UK as well as to Europe. In 1945, while still in the RAF, he married Alma Pennington.

The highlight of his time in the skies came in 2012 when, at the age of 90, he flew in a two-seater Spitfire at the Duxford Air Museum near Cambridge. He was able to take control of the plane and complete a roll.

Of the experience, his son Richard said: “That was sheer joy and gave him many wonderful memories.”

After demobilisation and his return to England post-war, Mr Thompson completed his RICS and estate agency exams and set up his own business - which later became Thompson Matthews Estate Agency - at Stramongate, Kendal. In his early career he was appointed secretary of the Westmorland County Agricultural Society, a position he held for 15 years.

Mr Thompson was an active member of the local community in other ways too - serving as a magistrate on the Kendal bench, being a founding committee member of the Kendal Civic Society, and president and secretary of the Kendal Rotary Club. He was also an active member of the Job Pennington Methodist Church on Fellside, Kendal.

His main passion outside of work was sailing, and he was a member of the Royal Windermere Yacht Club for 50 years, being Commodore in the 1970s. Alongside Alma, he progressed from dinghy racing to the 17ft class, taking to the water in all but the windiest weather.

Richard added his father had left “a legacy that continues through his sons [Richard and the late Roger], five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren in whom he was immensely proud.”