HUNDREDS of people paid their last farewells to one of Northallerton's favourite sons.

The town's official historian, Michael Riordan, lost a long battle against cancer last week, at the age of 69.

Yesterday, Northallerton's parish church of All Saints - where many years ago Mr Riordan had been head chorister - was packed for his funeral.

The service was taken by All Saints curate, the Reverend Adam Reed, in place of vicar Canon Ian Fox, who was suffering from flu.

Mr Reed spoke of the genuine and profound interest in other people Mr Riordan had shown throughout his long and varied career.

Catterick-born and the son of a soldier, he was the first child to be christened in the Green Howards regimental chapel, although he was later to join the RAF, where he became its youngest squadron leader.

He was the first member of his family to go to university and was also a gifted sportsman, actor and singer.

After leaving the RAF he worked in a variety of education roles and also became a researcher into Northallerton's past.

Mr Reed said: "He rejoiced in local history and could make it come alive with empathy and humour."

His last published work, a history of the town was acclaimed by academics and laymen. Only weeks before his death he was officially installed as an honorary citizen.

Mr Riordan left a widow, Juliet, and four sons. He was buried with his daughter, who died of meningitis in 1961, at the age of three.