TRIBUTES have been paid to respected Keasden gamekeeper and cricketer, Roy Fairhurst, who died recently aged 93.

One of six children born to Edward and Jemima, nee Taylor, at Stockdale Farm, Settle, Roy was a keen cricketer and footballer and his first matches were played with friends on the green, Upper Settle. He was the gamekeeper at Keasden for 27 years.

In 1944, when Roy was 18, he joined the Royal Navy, causing much anxiety to his parents. He recalled that there wasn’t much sailing done but he was always in demand for the Navy’s cricket and football teams

Roy trained on ships at Skegness including HMS Victory. He returned in 1946 to continue working for his brother Teddy at Flatts Farm, Clapham and for his brother Cicero, a butcher. He found his vocation as a forester for the Ingleborough Estate and, in 1963, gamekeeper on the grouse moor at Keasden, a job he enjoyed to the full until retiring in 1990 to Settle. The Craven Herald reported on his retirement 30 years ago when local farmers presented him with gifts.

Roy’s wife was the former Irene Williamson whose family ran Clapham’s New Inn and they were married in the village church in 1953. He played football for Long Preston and Langcliffe and cricket for Settle and Clapham, where he was roped into the annual derby against Newby.

He loved snooker, billiards, fishing and his allotment, and with Irene and daughter Anne spent holidays around Oban. He first visited Oban as a boy in the 1930s to buy cows with his father. Roy had never seen the sea before and told his mum that there were seagulls in the beck.

After Irene’s death Roy kept active with fishing, mole catching and whist drives. He was a popular president of Settle Cricket Club. He and his spaniels helped at shoots, often meeting the royal family.

Roy genuinely loved all the animals in his care and as boy kept a badger as a pet. “A bit of dirt didn’t hurt” he would say. He leaves his daughter Anne and many nephews, nieces, friends and neighbours.