Lune Valley residents came together to pay tribute to John Holt, who has died at the age of 88.

Mr Holt, who passed away at his home on July 16, was one of the community’s best-known and most respected figures who played many parts: farmer, councillor, magistrate and High Sheriff.

Born in Bury and educated at Shrewsbury School and the Royal Agricultural College Cirencester, he settled in Tunstall, where he married in 1956, and farmed Raw Ridding, Tatham and Home Farm, Wray.

In addition to a busy life as a farmer, he was a magistrate in Lancaster from 1976 until 2002, and was on the Board of Visitors at Lancaster Prison.

A Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire, he had the honour of serving as High Sheriff during 1991-92.

Having joined the Freemasons in Settle, he became Assistant Provincial Grand Master.His service to the local community was extensive. He was a prominent councillor on Lunesdale Rural District Council and a founder member of the enlarged Lancaster City Council from 1973, being made an honorary alderman.

Making life better for the community was a perennial preoccupation and among his many projects was the creation of the popular Bull Beck picnic site near Caton.

His long and full life was celebrated at the churchyard of St James the Less, Tatham. Open to the fields and distant hills, it provided the perfect setting to observe social distancing.

On behalf of the Friends of Tatham Church, Colin Burford said he initiated the group to help preserve and revitalise the church and gave it unfailing support.

Linda Kirkby, chair of the Parochial Church Council, spoke of his unstinting commitment, saying: “John’s sense of community spirit shone brightly and went hand-in-hand with his ability to connect with people of all ages.

“He was a true Christian gentleman, much loved by all who knew him.”

Mr Holt's own words were quoted by his daughter, Roo Berry. “This is such a marvellous community,” he had written. “The respect, support and friendship between us is quite exceptional.”

He leaves his wife Phyllis, daughter Roo and son Ian, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.