THE funeral has taken place of Leslie Joy, a stalwart of the Sutton-in-Craven community who flew Lancaster bombers in World War Two and who has recently died, just less than a year before his 100th birthday.

His coffin was draped with the RAF flag at the funeral service at Oakworth Crematorium which was attended by an RAF standard bearer and bugler who sounded the Last Post.

Born in Bradford in March, 1923, he left school aged 14 with just an elementary education - denied the opportunity of attending grammar school, because of the cost. He worked in a number of jobs, including being a delivery boy and office worker at Listers Mill, but attended evening classes to expand his education. In the early 1940s, he joined the Air Training Corps (ATC) and in 1942 joined the RAF.

He sailed on the Queen Mary for Canada where after extensive training he gained his wings as a Lancaster pilot.

Mr Joy was assigned to an Australian squadron where he completed a significant number of missions over Germany and Holland.

Last year, he was interviewed by historian Gary Bridson-Daley for the second edition of his book 'A Debt of Gratitude to The Last Heroes' in which he talked about his involvement in a Bomber Command mission to bomb Berchtesgaden in the dying days of the Second World War.

Mr Joy married Elsie in 1944 and their son, David was born in 1946. The same year he left the forces and returned to civvy street where he again carried out a variety of jobs, including working in an iron foundry, a milk processing plant, the police and finally Betterware, where he stayed for 20 years, rising to the position of district manager.

Following the birth of Stephen in 1963 and feeling a move to a more secure superannuated position would be better for family and long term security he applied to join the civil service in 1967 in the form of the National Savings movement where he eventually became a district commissioner.

He retired from the civil service more than 30 years ago while living near Cambridge and working with the Nature Conservancy Council.

Following his wife, Elsie’s stroke in 2004 it was decided to move back up North and the family settled in Sutton in Craven. He rapidly made his mark on the community becoming a parish councillor, and getting involved in many clubs.

He continued to selflessly care for Elsie until she died in 2006. He remained on the parish council until 2019, managed the Sutton Community Centre, successfully obtaining grants for a total facelift, and promoting the space for groups including the Art Club in which he was keenly involved.

He carried out voluntary work at the Sutton Lodge care home right up until his death, entertaining the residents - who were often younger than him, with art lessons.

Mr Joy is survived by his sons, Steve and David.