He was born in Grimsargh, near Preston in Lancashire, where his father was a farmer. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was only six and he was later to lose his only sister from the same illness. He was only four when she first fell ill and, as she was infectious, he was not able to come near her because of her coughing. His elder (by 11 years) sister was forced to run the household.
As a radio officer in the Merchant Navy, he made several transatlantic crossings to transport horses and troops. He left the Navy in 1929 to help his father's business, later taking up an interest in cattle breeding.
He never married and died in his native Grimsargh on 2 February 2006, aged 107.
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