KEIGHLEY has said a final 'thank you and farewell' to one if its best-loved characters.

Trinity Church at Fell Lane was packed today as people turned out in their hundreds for the funeral of 'Mr Keighley' Ian Dewhirst.

Proceedings were also relayed to the foyer and an upstairs area, which housed those unable to be accommodated within the main church.

Tributes were paid by family and friends, with laughter and applause ringing out as some tales about Ian's inimitable style were recounted.

Local historian Ian, who died last month aged 82, was well known for his countless talks to organisations throughout the district and beyond.

The retired reference librarian, who lived in the Fell Lane area of the town, also wrote several books.

And he had compiled the Keighley News’ popular Memory Lane column for more than a quarter of a century.

Conducting the service was the Rev Brenda Sugden, who welcomed everyone to the celebration of Ian's life.

She said he was a "man of humility with a great knowledge of local history", which he was always willing to share, and that his sudden death had come as a huge shock to everyone.

He was born in the house where he'd lived all his life, and was educated at Keighley Boys' Grammar School before heading off to university.

During the 1950s, he completed his national service as a sergeant with the Royal Army Educational Corps.

Ian worked for 24 years as a reference librarian, retiring in 1991.

He received the MBE 20 years ago in honour of his services to local history, was awarded a doctorate by Bradford University and even had a diesel train named after him.

"All the tributes that have come in show just how much Ian meant to the people of Keighley and the surrounding area," said the Rev Sugden.

"As reference librarian he was always more than happy to help people, and other historians found his knowledge so extremely helpful."

She said countless people had enjoyed his talks, which were always "informative, lively and amusing".

"He had no interest in – or time for – the digital age," she added.

"He remained very much a 'paper and pencil' man."

A family tribute from Ian's nieces said their uncle "lived his life to the full and was a true gentleman".

"Much of his life was dedicated to his work – travelling near and far to fulfil engagements – but we his family got to share another part of his life," they said, describing holidays, walks and other shared moments.

"We have so many happy memories of our time together.

"He has left a lasting legacy and will never be forgotten."

Susan Hepworth, a friend of Ian's for about 47 years, said he was hugely keen walker. They first met on a Holiday Fellowship hike.

"He was like no one I had ever met and he was to become a firm friend," she said.

"Ian liked to accept challenges. He took part in the Fellsman Hike twice and once fainted in a telephone box after a gruelling 60-mile walk from Keighley to the sea!

"He was a gentle soul and had a great respect for nature."

She added that he was a natural and energetic public speaker, with a great sense of fun and spontaneity, and travelled to all his talk venues using public transport.

"He lived his life well and fully and was generous of his time," she said.

"He will live on with admiration and affection in the lives of all those he enriched and inspired."

Chris Phipps, a media historian and author, told those at the service that he had met Ian in 1992 when he recruited him for TV programme, The Dales Diary.

"Ian became a fixture on The Dales Diary for 15 years," he said.

"He was a total natural in front of the camera. I called him 'One Take Ian' because you never had to do a re-shoot!

"His greatest qualities were that he was self-effacing and modest.

"I have truly lost the greatest of friends."

Donations at the end of the service were for the British Heart Foundation.

Afterwards, a private cremation took place at Oakworth Crematorium.