Obituary: Leonard Crabtree

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A WELL-KNOWN figure in the Halifax motor trade, and one of the oldest walkers on the annual Long March, has died aged 89.

Leonard Crabtree, of Shibden, Halifax, was a familiar face in his grey overall and woollen hat at Valley Motors in neighbouring Stump Cross, until his retirement.

A former pupil at Hipperholme Grammar School, he served an engineering apprenticeship at Stanley Machine Tools in Sowerby Bridge and during the war he worked in a reserved occupation as an inspector of Rolls Royce aircraft engines at Barnoldswick, Lancashire.

He then returned to Halifax where he worked for Asquith’s Machine Tools, Highroad Well, before being invited to join his family’s business at Stump Cross.

His parents had acquired the land at the junction between the Bradford and Leeds roads in the 1930s, where they built the fish and chip shop and one of the first petrol stations in Halifax.

Both businesses still stand there today.

Mr Crabtree was in charge of running the petrol station and developing Valley Motors, the motor trading business and garage where he worked until 1990. During his retirement Mr Crabtree became an avid walker, completing several long-distance walks including the Pennine Way, the coast-to-coast, the Cleveland Way and Offa’s Dyke.

At the age of 69 he took part in his first Long March and continued with this each year until 2004 when he was aged 83, having raised thousands of pounds for the charity Christian Aid.

He especially enjoyed walking in the Shibden area where he grew up.

His partner of 29 years, Dorothy, said: “He walked in Shibden Park most of the days of his life and probably knew it better than any of the Listers! When he was a young boy his parents bred working horses in the barn there and Leonard actually lived in the barn one summer.

“Looking out from the home that his family built overlooking the park he always maintained ‘There’s no better view in the world than this’.”

The couple enjoyed sequence dancing.

As well as his partner, Mr Crabtree also leaves his children Yvonne and Stewart, and two grandchildren Emmalene and Aidan. His funeral service was held at St Matthew’s Church in Northowram.