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Tributes are paid to Dr James Swanston, who has died aged 104
TRIBUTES have been paid to a retired family doctor who has died just weeks before his 105th birthday.
Dr James Kelly Swanston, of Helmsley, was born in Kirkcaldy in Fife, and qualified as a doctor in Edinburgh in 1935.
Three years later, he became a GP at a practice in Sowerby, alongside Dr Wyn Davies. When Dr Davies retired, Dr Swanston took over the practice.
On his retirement, Dr Swanston moved to Helmsley with his wife, Mollie, who died six years ago.
His life-long interest was motor-cycling which he took up at school. He raced in the Isle of Man Grand Prix’s senior and junior events.
However, in his first season in the senior field, he fell off his machine and broke his shoulder. He fought back before winning the senior championship in 1935.
Col John Swanston said his father’s 1930s Norton motorcycle had recently been discovered and was now owned by a Kirkbymoorside resident. His 1930s Velocette has also been traced to Edinburgh, while another vintage machine he raced had been found in the Shetlands.
Dr Swanston’s other interests included gardening, oil painting, stock and crook making, tapestry and painting pottery.
An avid reader, Dr Swanston was Helmsley library’s most prolific lender, despite his age.
Dr Swanston was also a keen competitor in the Thirsk and Sowerby Annual Show, winning an array of silverware and awards for his vegetables and flowers.
Col Swanston said: “The two things which kept him going mentally was undoubtedly crossword puzzles and Suduko. He had an incredible memory.
“Many people in the Thirsk and Sowerby area and surrounding villages will remember him for his visits to outlying farms, delivering babies and travelling around in his Morris shooting brake with his beloved black labrador dog.”
Dr Swanston leaves a son, Col John Swanston, a retired Army doctor, and twin daughters, Val and Rory, as well as six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His funeral was held at All Saints’ Church, Helmsley, on Monday, followed by cremation at Octon.