KENNETH Brown, who had a long record of voluntary work in Ryedale and York after retiring from a distinguished career in British Railways, has died at the age of 87.
At the age of 15 he began working at a small railway station near Sheffield and remained a railwayman for the whole of his working life, interrupted only by national service in the Army, serving as a Captain in India and Burma.
Early years were involved with station operations and personnel matters as he moved from post to post for promotion but in the late 1950s he attended evening classes on mechanisation in the railway accounting departments.
He sought a post in traffic accounting and, as machines and electronics developed, so did his expertise in programming them. In 1963 he was appointed the senior programmer for the largest computer bureau in British Railways at Peterborough, and eventually became the computer bureau manager. Before taking early retirement, he was the Data Processing Officer for the Eastern Region based in York and ended his railway career developing the future of computers at the BR Board in Derby.
On retirement, Mr Brown joined the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Malton in the 1980s as an advisor but quickly found he was specialising in the computerisation of their work and going from handling one desktop computer to looking after all aspects of IT with an inventory of 16 machines, and printers and laptops, needing repairs and software upgrades on a regular basis. He was still working there as recently as last year. A decade earlier he had received a long service award for 20 years of service to the bureau.
He was also the treasurer of St Helen and the Holy Cross Church in Sheriff Hutton for over 30 years and was still in post this year, becoming Churchwarden Emeritus. Churchwarden Roy Thompson, said he had a strong faith and carried out his work quietly, efficiently and meticulously.
“He always had a charm which showed through, be it in his work or with friends or visitors to his home. He respected them and was respected in return by them.” The Archbishop of York noted Mr Brown’s “tremendous record of service by “a very special person”.
He was also a National Trust guide at Nunnington Hall, moving to York Civic Trust when Peter Brown asked him to join him as Fairfax House was prepared for its opening in November 1984. He interpreted the collections and was a room guide. He was also a regular member of Sheriff Hutton Bowling Club and a keen supporter of football and Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
He leaves a son, Jonathan, a daughter, Louise, and grandsons Christopher and Matthew.
A Service of Thanksgiving for his life will be held at St Helen and the Holy Cross in Sheriff Hutton on Thursday, February 20 at midday.