POPULAR long-serving local referee and sportsman Donald Thorpe has died, aged 85.

Known simply as Don, Thorpe was a keen cricketer and footballer during his formative years as a teenager before taking up the whistle when a knee injury cut short his playing career.

He was a familiar local figure on his bike, cycling to games all around York and outlying villages. He also ran many local half-marathons and several Great North Runs.

The fourth of seven brothers and two sisters, Thorpe was born in Fulford in 1932 to what was then thought to be the largest family in York and was featured on the long-running radio programme Down Your Way.

As a teenager, he played cricket for Fulford with his brother John and also football for Welltonians AFC - based at the Wellington Inn down Alma Terrace - where he gained a reputation as a fearless goalkeeper and attracted the attention of various local clubs.

After being pipped for the job at Rowntrees FC by future York City goalkeeper Mick Grainger, he was snapped up by York Railway Institute and formed part of one of the most successful local clubs of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

He started refereeing following a knee injury and became one of the best-known and well-respected local referees. He was a life member of both the York branch of the Referees Association and the National Referees Association.

He gave more than 50 years of service to the RA, including serving as president of York RA from 1977 to 1982, and received their Meritorious Service Award.

Thorpe took up running in his late 50s, competing in many local half-marathons as well as several Great North Runs and five London Marathons, the last of which he finished at the age of 65 before finally giving up running aged 71.

Thorpe was also a keen indoor bowls player in the winter and on the Haxby Road rink in summer with the Rowntrees pensioners.

He was supported in all his sporting endeavours by his wife of 62 years, Joan, who passed away in 2016. He is survived by sons Paul and Bryan, daughter Ann, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

His funeral will take place at York Crematorium on Tuesday, April 17 at 11.40am.