A retired diplomat who had audiences with The Queen and travelled the world throughout his career has died in Ambleside.

Bryan Sparrow CMG joined the Foreign Office when he was 18 and committed himself to 40 years of service in Europe, Africa, Canada and Russia.

His marriage to wife Fiona started when they met studying in Oxford and lasted almost 65 years.

Mr Sparrow's first diplomatic posting was to Belgrade, with his career taking him to some of post-war Europe’s most troubled warzones.

This included volunteering to interpret after the Balkan War erupted, during the tense handover of army barracks from Yugoslavia to Slovenia.

Two of Mr Sparrow’s favourite postings were as Consul General in Toronto, Canada, and Lyons in France, but others, including Tunisia, Prague, Morocco and Russia were more challenging.

He also served as British Ambassador to Cameroon and in Kinshasa, where he even managed to get a seat at the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing match, when Muhammed Ali beat George Foreman.

Mr Sparrow's sparkling personality helped him curry the favour of members of the Royal Family too.

On a visit to Lyons, the Queen Mother enjoyed talking to him so much about her family’s Russian links that she invited the couple to dinner the very next evening.

Audiences with the late Queen often developed into relaxed chats, with his duties often revolving around ensuring the safety of visiting royalty.

His final posting was as the first British Ambassador to Croatia between 1992-1994, acting as a fitting swansong to his years of dedicated service.

Retirement to Ambleside, his wife's childhood home, provided a slower pace of life, though Mr Sparrow was not one to slow down.

He served twice as President of Ambleside Rotary Club and tirelessly fundraised for disaster relief, polio eradication and food for school children in central Africa.

Leading a local campaign to remove Himalayan Balsam and taking an active role in Ambleside Civic Trust, Mr Sparrow also welcomed Russian children to stay with them on summer holiday breaks from Chernobyl.

He leaves a widow, a son and daughter and one grandchild.