Wartime pilot Phil Irving dies aged 87

Phil Irving: Opened cycle store

Phil Irving: Opened cycle store

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , richard.catton@thepress.co.uk

A SECOND World War RAF veteran and former owner of Hills Boatyard near Lendal Bridge has died at the age of 87.

Phil Irving, a well-known businessman and former City of York Council member, died on January 10 at Rivermead Nursing Home in Malton.

Mr Irving started work at York instrument makers Cooke, Troughton & Simms, before volunteering and training to be a pilot during the Second World War.

His son, David, 59, said a lack of rear air-gunners at the time meant his father was retrained and took up a role on a Lancaster Bomber, as part of 218 Squadron, flying many missions and eventually taking part in Operation Manna, the huge food drop over Holland towards the end of the war.

He said: “His squadron was relocated to the Middle East for training to join in the Far East conflict but the war ended and he returned to the UK for demob.”

In 1952, Mr Irving married his wife, Jill. She died in 1990.

Following a stint as a salesman, he set up a cycle repair business, eventually going on to open Irving’s Cycles, Sales and Services in Boroughbridge Road. It was during this time he was elected on to the council, where he served on several committees.

David said: “In 1972, my father and mother decided on a change of business and purchased Hills Boatyard at Lendal Bridge, which at that time had an old cottage and adjacent workshop which needed a great deal of renovation, as well as five river launches and 17 rowing boats.

“The business was given a huge make over and became one of York’s leading tourist attractions. I joined my parents in the business in 1973.”

As well as running the boatyard, Mr Irving also founded the Operation Manna reunion group which organised trips to Holland and meetings with fellow RAF crews. He was also presented to Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.

In 1996, Mr Irving married his second wife, Christine, and they spent many happy holidays together travelling around the world.

In December, 2011, he moved into Rivermead Nursing Home, where he died earlier this month.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be confirmed but details will be given in The Press.

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