IT is with great sadness that we at Wensleydale Creamery learned of the passing of Hawes councillor John Blackie (Echo, Jul 18). I first met John in 1992 when he became a local leader in the successful Save the Creamery campaign.

Since then, he became a champion of our progress and development. He fought for the Creamery and challenged us to improve our performance, always in the spirit of progress and ultimately for the wellbeing of Hawes and the Upper Dales.

I also worked with John as a governor at The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form – again an environment in which he would both challenge and support. However, John always linked the need for great education and the opportunities in our area for young people to build meaningful careers. Again, this linked to housing provision for young people and John was a champion of local affordable housing.

Without doubt, he had a truly rounded perception of our community and what it needs to be both sustainable and successful.

He was the person responsible for ensuring our deeply rural community has a transport provision in the form of The Little White Bus – and remarkably, I often saw John at the wheel of a bus – now that is leadership!

Via the Community Office in Hawes, he ensured the continuation of a Post Office in the face of bank closures and the provision of cash machines.

I suspect one of his proudest achievements will be the Community Garage – a truly inspired move whereby the community’s not-for-profit organisation purchased the local garage, to ensure our town has a viable fuel outlet.

John loved to promote our area as a “self-sufficient community”, and we are self-sufficient, sustainable and successful!

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to John Blackie. He fought tirelessly for people, social justice, fairness, opportunity for all, our environment, education, housing, rural economic prosperity and wellbeing – all wrapped up in the objective of ‘prosperity for Hawes, Wensleydale and the Upper Dales.

He will be greatly missed, and us all at Wensleydale Dairy Products offer condolences to Jill and all his family and for sure, John will be remembered.

David Hartley, managing director, Wensleydale Diary Products Ltd, Hawes