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Sir John Horsfall, MC

SIR John Horsfall, third Baronet, who has died aged 89, inherited the baronetcy awarded to his grandfather John Cousin Horsfall, a leading figure in the textile industry and founder of the worsted spinners John C Horsfall and Son, of Glusburn, near Keighley.

Sent to a prep school in Kent and then to Uppingham School, he spent his holidays at Hayfield, the family's home close to the worsted mill, and when he was 18 he went around the world with his aunt Marian Horsfall. The chief object of the trip was to visit New Zealand, and on his return John went into the family business, now being run by his father, Sir Donald.

He joined the Territorial Army in the mid-1930s and following the outbreak of war was stationed with the Duke of Wellington's Regiment in Iceland, occupied by Britain to pre-empt a German invasion. In February, 1940, he married Cassandra, daughter of the late George Wright of Brink-worth Hall, Elvington, York.

Sent to the Far East, he served as a major in Burma, winning the MC for exceptional conduct while commanding the same company for over a year.

The citation referred to his courage and unstinting efforts being a great inspiration to his men and mentioned two episodes in particular. In the first he led his men in three determined attacks on a strongly-defended enemy position on the Tiddim road at Meiktila, and within a couple of months he distinguished him-self again at Nyaungkashe.

Here, without tank support, he exploited an early advantage by twice clearing the thickest and most difficult area being fought over near the village, the citation stating that his action was an important feature in the success of the operation.

Afterwards he was fierce in his insistence that he had received the MC on behalf of his company. His war exploits were not topics about which he willingly spoke.

His insistence on carrying through whatever it was he had set his mind to do was combined in him with seemingly inexhaustible patience and indestructible tolerance.

The two things he retained from his time in the Army were a great affection for the Duke of Wellington's, and the ethos of an officer and a gentleman; a man who kept his word, he assumed that others would do the same. When disappointed his faith in human nature quickly reasserted itself.

After the war he returned to the family business and when his father retired became joint-managing director with his colleague Eric Hudson.

A conviction that his privileged background imposed responsibilities led him to become actively involved in many areas of life. He was a Justice of the Peace (1959-1985) and served on Skipton Rural District Council (1952-1974) and the Bradford A Group Hospital Management Committee (1952-1969) and was a General Commissioner of Taxes (1964-1990). President of Skipton Divisional Conservative Association (1966-79), he was on the Wool and Allied Textile Employers' Council (1957-75) and a member of the Wool Textile Delegation (1957-75) and the Worsted Spinners Federation (1954-1980; president 1962-1964). He was a director of the Bradford Wool Exchange and Skipton Building Society and an Underwriting member at Lloyds.

He loved watching cricket and was a life member of the Yorkshire county and Scarborough cricket clubs. Up until some 15 years ago he was a member of shooting syndicates at Bolton Abbey and Harewood, but horses never had much appeal to him. He nevertheless supp-orted Lady Horsfall, who rode with the Pendle Forest and Craven Harriers, of which she was sometime joint master, and the Bedale Hunt.

As well as his widow he leaves three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The baronetcy passes to his elder son, Edward John Wright Horsfall.

 
 
 

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