Craven has lost one of its true Yorkshire characters with the death of Keith French.
Keith – fondly known as Goff – was well known from his sporting exploits and as a great story teller. He was a genuinely funny man and was in demand as a speaker at dinners or meetings.
He was a family man and enjoyed a long marriage to Enid who bore his dedication to sports and the tales about them with equally good humour. He leaves a son, Roderick and daughter Deborah and his grandchildren.
Keith was an engineer, initially working at Landis Lund and later as a designer for Rolls Royce. He never lost his skills and Gargrave Cricket Club benefited from his efforts to keep sundry machinery working over many years.
He was a fast bowler of considerable talent, achieving great pace and accuracy. Keith was consistently successful over many years, winning the club bowling prize many times and featuring in the Airedale and Wharfedale league averages on several occasions.
His achievements included taking nine wickets for 31 against Green Lane in 1962 and 64 wickets in 1975 and 53 in 1976 – all at less than 10 runs a wicket. Indeed, in 1976, Keith also came eighth in the league batting averages with almost 400 runs at an average of 25. Keith was a member of the Gargrave side which won the Airedale and Wharfedale League A division in 1970.
Keith was equally enthusiastic as a footballer for Gargrave sides and his tackling was something to behold.
After retiring from these strenuous sports, Keith took up bowling and was no mean player. He was a member of the village bowls team for many years.
Keith’s other passion was fishing and each year he and his pals spent time sea fishing in Scotland where his eccentric dress sense must have confused the Scots. Often dressed in a tattered trilby hat, an oily overcoat and white surgeon’s wellies, he was correctly likened to Compo from Last of the Summer Wine.
In later years, Keith played an important role in village life, serving as chairman of the village hall men’s section and on other bodies such as the parish council. He supported his wife Enid at the parish church where she has been the organist for many years. He acted as verger at weddings and funerals at the church for more than 20 years and was chief shepherd in the Christmas play!
Keith was a reliable friend who was fun to know and he will be sorely missed by his family and a wide circle of friends and former opponents.