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Retired Thirsk doctor dies, aged 104
THE funeral has been held of a former family doctor who died just weeks before his 105th birthday.
For many years Dr James Kelly Swanston tended to the people of Sowerby, Thirsk, although latterly he had lived at Helmsley.
He was born in Kirkcaldy in Fife, qualified as a doctor in Edinburgh in 1935, then three years later became a GP in Sowerby, alongside Dr Wyn Davies. When Dr Davies retired, Dr Swanston took over the practice.
Following his retirement, Dr Swanston moved to Helmsley with his wife, Mollie, who died six years ago.
His life-long interest was motor-cycling which he took up at school. He raced in the Isle of Man Grand Prix’s senior and junior events.
However, in his first season in the senior field, he fell off his machine and broke his shoulder. He fought back before winning the senior championship in 1935.
Dr Swanston’s other interests included gardening, oil painting, stock and crook making, tapestry and painting pottery. An avid reader, he was also Helmsley library’s most prolific lender, despite his age.
Over the years he was a keen competitor in the Thirsk and Sowerby Annual Show, winning an array of silverware and awards for his vegetables and flowers.
His son, retired Army doctor Col John Swanston said: “The two things which kept him going mentally was undoubtedly crossword puzzles and Suduko. He had an incredible memory.
“Many people in the Thirsk and Sowerby area and surrounding villages will remember him for his visits to outlying farms, delivering babies and travelling around in his Morris shooting brake with his beloved black labrador dog.”
As well as his son Dr Swanston leaves twin daughters, Val and Rory, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
His funeral was held at All Saints’ Church, Helmsley, on Monday.
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