Tributes have been paid to a Melton man who was a milkman for more than 40 years and who was believed to be the last person to drive a horse-drawn delivery vehicle in the town.
Stuart Townend died last month aged 91 after spending his final few months at Egerton Lodge nursing home in Melton.
He worked for the Co-op dairy in King’s Road for almost 50 years from the age of 14 - his service interupted only by a short spell in the army at the end of the Second World War.
At the start of his career, Stuart was paid 12 shillings (60p) and during the early years of the war he delivered rationed milk of half-a-pint per house before he was called up.
Few delivery men were as dedicated as Stuart was, according to his only child, Sally Hazeldine, who lives in Horseguards Way in the town.
She said: “Dad seemed to work every day and he never even had a Christmas morning at home when I was little.
“He always worked Christmas Day and Boxing Day and I can remember him sitting at home with his milk book working out how much people owed him after he had done his Christmas rounds.
“He was up at three or four o’clock every day and he loved being charge of his own round, meeting people and enjoying the fresh air.”
Stuart and his horse and cart were very popular with young children, who waited on street corners eager to have a ride on the cart.
But it proved a difficult mode of transport for him, particularly in the winter months, when his horse, Judy, used to slip down onto all fours, requiring him to unharness her, haul her to her feet and then re-attach the harness.
One of his favourite sayings was ‘horses are like women, you never know when you are going to get a good ‘un’.
Stuart didn’t have to look far for his good woman - meeting wife Joan while she also worked at the Co-op.
They were married at St Peter’s Church, Kirby Bellars on September 19, 1953. living in Stanley Street and latterly in Laycock Avenue.
Sadly, Joan passed away aged only 61 in 1994 after being diagnosed with cancer.
Stuart had two brothers and a sister, who all died before him. He was born in Nottingham Road in June 1927 in a building known as the laundry, which was located where the town fire station is now.
He attended three schools in Melton - the Norman Street infants, Asfordby Road juniors and Limes Avenue modern.
After taking the job at the Co-op he was called up at the age of 18 close to the end of the war and trained to be a cook in the forces.
Stuart was sent to join the Royal Army Medical Corps Field Ambulance in Palestine, in an area now part of Israel. For two years, until 1947, he helped feed Jewish migrants arriving from Europe.
He had many happy years as a milkman, making the transition to using electric-powered milk floats before retiring at the age of 62 in 1989 when arthritis developed in his joints from his physical working life.
In his retirement, he loved gardening and watching sport. Stuart enjoyed a bet and on one occasion had a big win on the horses which he continued to talk about.
He doted on his grandsons, Thomas and James, who were born to daughter Sally and her husband Steve.
Sally said: “Dad was a real laugh a minute character and everyone thought the world of him.”
Grandson James said: “He was a family man who always enjoyed coming round for a Sunday roast every week.
“He would do anything for his friends, family and neighbours, he valued and appreciated hard work and was always very supportive and helpful with everything any of us did.”
A funeral service will be at St Mary’s Church, Melton, at 12 noon on Monday December 10, followed by cremation at Loughborough Crematorium.
All are invited although family flowers only are requested with donations to be made to the British Heart Foundation or St Peter’s Church, Kirby Bellars.