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He was so-well-known in the village that his many friends called him simply the King of Kirkheaton.

And on Friday lunchtime, the village came to a halt as hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to Raymond Berry, whose butcher’s shop at Town Bottom provided meat seasoned with a healthy sprinkling of gossip for almost 40 years.

Private family prayers were said at the United Church in New Road and then in bright sunshine the horse-drawn cortège accompanied by Winston’s Pennine Jazz Band wound its way to his former shop where the rector of Kirkheaton Parish Church, Richard Steel, and local residents were waiting.

After a pause of several minutes the procession continued to the church which overflowed with more than 300 mourners.

Click below to see images from the funeral cortege.

Russell Jones, 83, of Barcroft said: “I remember going into his shop for 30 years. He was big and brash. He would chop the meat up and bang it on the scales and say ‘Give us a fiver’. Those were the old days. He was a real character, one of the best.”

John Wilson, 53, of Second Avenue, Kirkheaton, added: “I had known him for 45-50 years and he would always look after you when you went in his shop.

“He and his younger brother Willie, another great character, were a terrific double act and would do pantomimes and I remember him doing There’s a Hole in My Bucket and Sooty and Sweep. Everyone in the village knew him.”

And Kenneth and Brenda Fowler had fond memories too. Kenneth said: “We moved here 46 years ago from Fartown and the first day we were in Kirkheaton, my wife, who had two young children and a third on the way, was welcomed to the village by him. He was the man who looked after us. He was great.”

Raymond Berry
Raymond Berry

Mr Berry was renowned for his “enormous zest for life” and someone who “always had a song or story to share.”

Mr Steel told mourners: “How do you start a funeral service for someone like Raymond? Someone said to me that they’d never met a celebrity, but now they knew they had.

“Raymond was very much a village celebrity. Everyone in Kirkheaton and around knew Raymond, or knew of him - and most of us have bought a ticket from him for one concert or another. He has been part of village life for so long.

Funeral cortege of Kirkheaton butcher Raymond Berry makes its way from the United Church to Kirkheaton Parish Church.

“Someone else has shared with me how he thought Raymond should have received an MBE for all his charity work. Raymond was always working to plan the next concert, when he wasn’t playing in one! How much money he helped raised we’ll never know.”

Raymond was born on October 28, 1929, to Alice and Norris Berry, a miner. He left school early and after completing his National Service in Egypt he went to work for Tony Brier, a butcher.

Funeral cortege of Kirkheaton butcher Raymond Berry makes its way from the United Church to Kirkheaton Parish Church led by members of Pennine Jazz.

With Tony’s support he set up on his own in Town Bottom in October 1956 and a year later married Marjorie Ashby whom he had met at a dance at Huddersfield Town Hall.

The couple had two children, Clive, who works in financial services and Janet a retired scientist. Raymond and Marjorie divorced in 1980.

Raymond, whose zest for life saw him take up the drums when he was 70, recovered from cancer twice but died aged 85 at his home of 53 years in Regent Road, Kirkheaton, on August 14.