TRIBUTES have been paid to two stalwarts of cricket in Earby.
Leonard Duxbury, a club legend who played in some of its most successful teams, died aged 95. Life-long fan Harry Hill, who was instrumental in the building of the club’s pavilion, was 83 when he suddenly passed away.
Mr Duxbury represented his town team from the 1930s to the mid-60s, and continued to support the club after he retired as a player.
His funeral took place at St Peter’s Methodist Church and he is thought to have been the last surviving pupil educated in the building when it was a day school. He gained a place at Ermysted’s Grammar School but, during the Depression years, many families could not afford to keep their children in education and he left to work in the cotton mills.
Later he travelled to London and was a policeman in the Metropolitan Police, before returning north and working in engineering in Manchester. At the outbreak of the Second World War he helped build Wellington Bombers in Cheshire and was, at first, refused a place in the forces because of his occupation.
Eventually he was allowed into the Royal Artillery and was posted to the Gold Coast in Africa, now Ghana. From there he was transferred to the Far East and parachuted into Burma where he was part of the “forgotten” 14th Army that continued the tough battle against the Japanese after the war in Europe ended.
Returning to Earby, he worked at Bristol Tractors and managed the Craven Fireplaces showroom in Water Street, which was later taken over by the Ouzledale Foundry of Barnoldswick.
He continued to play cricket for Earby, and also spent two seasons with Barnoldswick, before returning to lead the Applegarth club to success. He played when the club was in the Aire-Wharfe League, winning the league bowling averages in 1948, and captained the 1959 team which won both the league and cup in the Ribblesdale League. He continued playing until he was 48, winning the club’s batting averages the year he retired.
Fellow cricket stalwart Harry Hill was born in Salterforth and later moved to Earby, where he was educated at Alder Hill School until the age of 15 when he started work at Pickles’ silk mill. He was there for a year before finding his dream job at Moor Hall Farm, where he indulged his love of the outdoors.
He then worked for Bristol Tractors and was there for a year before joining West Riding Council, and later Lancashire County Council, as a wagon driver. He took early retirement at 60 when he also took on the job of lengthsman with Salterforth Parish Council.
Even though he was only contracted for 20 hours a week, he would often do double that, such was his devotion to the village. His efforts helped Salterforth to victory in Lancashire’s Best-Kept Village competition, and he was presented with a plaque in gratitude.
Daughter Wendy said: “He was very proud of how the village looked and would go round telling people, ‘Your hanging basket needs attention, or keep your horses off the grass verges’.”
Mr Hill’s biggest passion was cricket and he helped build the pavilion, as well as putting up the score box. He spent much of his time on the hillside watching his beloved team, passing comment on the umpires’ performance. His loyalty to the club was rewarded when he was made a life member.
He enjoyed travelling with his family, especially to the USA, although he was always happy to return home and catch up on the cricket results.
Harry and his wife Ivy celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in March, and also had a son Nigel.
Wendy said: “Everybody knew him and wherever he went he would find someone to talk to. He was well known for driving through Earby and pipping his horn at everyone. He always had a laugh and a joke for everybody, and would help anyone.”
Mr Hill’s funeral took place on Wednesday with a service at Skipton Crematorium, followed by a celebration of his life at Earby Cricket Club. His family have asked any donations be made to Pendleside Hospice.