WALTER Holmes who played a major role in the development of Honley Male Voice Choir in the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 82.

Mr Holmes, who was a vice-president of the choir which was formed in 1936, joined it in 1968 and sang in the baritone section.

During his 16 years as Secretary he introduced a number of innovations which greatly raised the profile of the choir.

He started the subscribers list now known as Friends of Honley, organised the 100 Club which has raised many thousands of pounds for the choir and suggested the formation of a Ladies Committee which later became the Ladies Circle.

He also introduced the first choir uniform and organised 28 exchange visits with other choirs and bands and the choir’s first two overseas trips.

His outstanding contribution to the choir was recognised when he was given life membership on relinquishing office in 1987.

Outside of the choir he led a varied and colourful private life and was married three times and had seven children. He was one of four children of miner Arthur Holmes and wife Ada and was brought up in the pit village of Carlton, near Barnsley.

He left school at 14 and did his National Service in the Army Catering Corps as a cook, serving part of the time in North Africa.

After returning to “civvy street” he moved to Blackpool where he became a tram conductor and met his first wife, Jean, who was a formation swimmer at the Tower Circus.

Later the couple, who had five children, moved to Huddersfield and Walter got a job at David Brown Gears.

After the marriage ended Walter met and married his second wife, Pat and they had a daughter but after a few years the couple were divorced.

After Walter was made redundant in the 1960s he opened a shop selling and repairing Hoover vacuum cleaners and employed another lady called Jean. They were married in the late 1960s and had a son.

In the early 1970s Walter went to work at David Brown Tractors which was later taken over by JI Case and he was made redundant again in 1985.

He and Jean moved to Blackpool where for some years they ran a bed and breakfast hotel before returning to Huddersfield where they lived in Moldgreen. For several years before his death Walter was a member of the Huddersfield U3A mixed choir and for a short time after leaving Honley he also sang with Colne Valley Male Voice Choir.

Although he never played football in his younger days he took a keen interest in the game and was a qualified Football League referee.

Honley Male Voice Choir Chairman Roger Wild said, “Walter was a great character and a wonderful organiser. The choir owes him a huge debt of gratitude.”

Walter is survived by his wife Jean and children Gary, Christine, Gillian, Trevor, Timothy, Yvonne and Simon.