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Respected Gargrave show judge and boxer dies aged 97
The final bell has sounded at the grand old age of 97 for a much revered sports personality and long-time resident of Gargrave, Tommy Procter.
A native of Millom on the edge of the Lake District, Tommy embraced the sporting ethos as a child and in his youth eagerly contested the Lakeland Sports, particularly in the Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling and fell racing events.
Patron of the sports during that halcyon period midst the two World Wars was the celebrated Lord Lonsdale who himself achieved acclaim through his generous commissioning of the coveted Lonsdale Belts for British boxing title success.
Coincidentally Tommy later worked on the Lord Lonsdale’s Lowther estate where his enthusiasm for boxing was fuelled.
Following success in local and travelling fairground booths Tommy stepped up a level and boxed professionally under the guidance of a noted manager of the era, “Snowy” Rogan of Preston.
As a bantamweight boxer, Tommy engaged in some terrific contests against some of the finest at his weight in the North of England. His impact was well documented in the weekly Boxing News.
The outbreak of the Second World War effectively terminated his promising boxing career.
He served in the Army and it was during the war, he had a chance encounter with his future wife, Rose, herself a Land Army girl.
Tommy then turned his hand to farming, working for John Dodgson of Bank Newton, and developed a passion for rearing and exhibiting poultry especially bantams.
He swept the board at shows large and small, including winning top awards at the National Poultry Show held at London’s Olympia and the Northern Poultry Show, then staged at the Queen’s Hall in Leeds.
Following a marathon success as an exhibitor, Tommy eventually accepted invitations from various show organisers to become a judge.
These included Gargrave Show where he served in numerous capacities and his support extended right up to last year.
Meanwhile another of his burgeoning talents was schooling racehorses for the licensed Bell Busk trainer, Teddy Gifford.
His funeral cortege departed from the Masons’ Arms – Tommy’s favourite “watering hole” – and where he had long figured as an interesting companion for both locals and visitors alike.
Tommy thought much about his local community and judging by the huge turnout for his final farewell, the community cared much about him as well.
He is survived by his daughters Bernadette and Wendy. He was also a loving granddad and great-granddad.