Champion vegetable grower Noel Kitchen died on Boxing Day, the day of his 65th birthday.

For the past two decades, Bradley-born Noel had been one of the most successful competitors in flower and veg shows across Bradford district.

In the past couple of years, despite suffering ill-health, he had spread his wings with success in competitions across Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Noel’s long-time friend and fellow grower Mick Cunningham this week described him as a fearsome competitor who was always willing to help other people.

Noel was born in Bradley and continued to live in the village after marrying wife Pat, before the pair moved to Steeton, while Noel was working as a weaving overlooker at Fletcher’s mill in Silsden.

With children Michelle and Lee, the couple spent several years living in Nigeria, where Noel worked as a weaving manager.

After returning to Keighley in the 1980s, Noel first worked at Peter Black, then became a transport manager with parks maintenance company Glendale.

Pat this week paid tribute to her husband’s caring nature, especially in the way he carried out gardening for neighbours who were unable to do it themselves.

She said: “He was always thinking of other people.”

Noel had four grandchildren, Liam, Jamie, Jessica and Eliza.