Saint Andrew’s church in Kirkby Malzeard was filled to capacity when Canon Peter Garner conducted the Thanksgiving service for the life of Neil Fraser – who died unexpectedly on November 2 aged 76.
He and his wife, Joan, lived in the village since 1968 and have made a significant contribution to community life.
Neil’s father’s work commitments led to Neil’s early years beingspent in different parts of the country but he was settled when he attended Bootham Quaker school as a boarder at age 13.
He went from there to study at Seale Hayne agricultural college in Devon and this was followed by a one-year management course for farming. It was while he was at college that he met Joan and they married in 1959.
Neil worked in farming in various areas of the country, leaving the farm he owned in Sykehouse to take up a post as an agricultural feed specialist in Ripon and moved to Kirkby Malzeard where he built a house in the former kitchen garden of Mowbray House estate.
A man of many talents, and ably supported by Joan, Neil became involved in a range of village activities. He helped re-form the badminton club at the mechanics’ institute, became chairman of Ripon badminton league and was linesman at national and international games.
From the early 1970s to his death he was a member of the mechanics’ institute committee. He was heavily involved in its activities, including the building of the new annex, the refurbishment programme and moving the mechanics’ institute to its present charitable status.
Neil was also a member of the parish council for 12 years and served as chairman for a number of them. He was involved in the pantomime society, the bowls club, attended the watercolour painting class in the village and was a long-standing member of the drumming society which met at Holy Trinity Church in Ripon.
Neil had a strong sense of family which included not only the four children and five grandchildren but also members of the extended family. He was a big man in all ways – stature, heart and personality – and his contribution to village life will be sorely missed.