SIX buglers sounded the Last Post at the funeral of former Skipton Royal British Legion chairman Gerry Thornhill.

It was their tribute to a man who is credited with helping to save the branch when it was threatened with closure about 20 years ago.

Other branch members carried the coffin into the chapel at the town's WaltonwraysCrematorium yesterday.

"It is the least we can do for him," said current chairman Alex Bentley. "He was instrumental in keeping it going by persuading members to give it a chance."

Mr Thornhill was also secretary of the Legion Club when it was owned by the branch.

"Against opposition, he took the brave step to refurbish the club - and it was a success. He knew his own mind and was a good Legion member. He worked hard for the Legion."

And Mr Bentley added: "He was a proud and intelligent man, who was easy to get on with."

Gerry - full name Hubert Gerald Lionel - was born in the East End of London into a proper “cockney” family and, after serving as a pilot in the RAF at the end of the Second World War, he spent a long and varied career in sales.

His chief social interests were golf and snooker and in his early years he was a frequent visitor to London's Playboy Club and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.

He married twice - both times to women called Barbara – and moved with his second wife to her native Yorkshire about 30 to 40 years ago.

His son, Steve, said: “Despite being a city boy, my father fell in love with the area and remained in Craven for the rest of his life.”

Already a member of the Royal British Legion in the south of England, he continued his involvement with the Skipton branch after his move to the north.