Earby character Alan loses cancer battle aged 59

Alan Wilkinson. (S)
Alan Wilkinson. (S)

West Craven lost a character at the weekend with the death of Alan Wilkinson.

Mr Wilkinson (59), of Dale View, Earby, was known to many as a keen runner, but was a trained engineer with an ability to learn languages with ease. He died in Airedale Hospital on Sunday after a battle with cancer.

Born in Skipton to parents Audrey and Fred Wilkinson, of Bolland Street, Barnoldswick, he went to Ermysteds Grammar School in Skipton.

A lover of languages, Mr Wilkinson had the chance to go to the Oxford University, but chose instead to go to Bangor as he did not want to be too far away from home. He took care of his mum after the death of his dad when he was 13.

After learning Latin at school, Mr Wilkinson left university with a double honours in French and German, but as a bit of a home bird, did not want to work abroad and chose to go into engineering.

Down the years he worked for British Steel, Briggs and Duxbury, Lontex, Albert Hartley, Pendle Polymer Engineering and NR Engineering.

He endured a couple of redundancies during his engineering career, and never one to be idle, he found temporary work as a kitchen porter at both the Bull at Broughton and at the Craven Heifer in Kelbrook.

He had one son, Gary, from his first marriage, but he remarried in 2002 after meeting Carol.

The couple bought an apartment in Cyprus where they enjoyed many holidays together, and, as Mr Wilkinson was a huge fan of James Herriot, they went to all the local agricultural shows.

When he was not at work, he was running, pulling on his shorts and heading out after work and taking part in many marathons and long-distance events at weekends.

He was pictured on the front page of the Daily Mirror during one of the Manchester runs and his best marathon time was 3hrs 3mins.

Mr Wilkinson took pride in his garden too and was keen to see the Earby Gardeners’ Society not fold after the death of Peter Bullock in 2014, stepping up to become secretary.

He was also a fan of rugby league side Wigan Warriors and an Formula One fanatic.

Carol said: “Alan was extremely intelligent, honest, hard-working and trusting. He didn’t need a computer because he could do the sums in his head.

“He was a lovely man and I was happy I was married to him.

“He was my best friend, lover and soul mate and we have had many happy times to remember as I loved the man to bits. I will miss him greatly but he will always be in my heart.”

Mr Wilkinson leaves behind Carol, his son Gary and step-daughter Amber.

His funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church in Kelbrook on Thursday at 11-15am before committal at Skipton Crematorium at 12-20pm and a celebration of his life at the Punch Bowl in Skipton Road, Earby afterwards.