THE family of a “hugely gifted, kind and generous” personality have paid tributes to him after he died just days before Christmas.

Mike Porter of Richmond in North Yorkshire, became well-known in the community for filming and documenting key events in the town for almost 60 years.

Mr Porter, who first made the headlines in the 1960s after he and three friends drove a Landrover from Richmond to North Africa, died on Friday, December 20.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Mr Porter during his trip to North Africa in the 60s

Father to three, Wendy, Nik and Katy, and grandfather to six, Mr Porter was well-known among the town for his work raising money for charities, creating and selling videos of Richmond, and holding film evenings.

Upon leaving school, Mr Porter joined the electricity board, where he helped pioneer live line working allowing maintenance work to be carried out on power lines without disruption.

Shortly after, he left to start his own steel fabrication company – JM Porter & Co – where he traded on the Richmond Trading Estate for a number of years, before becoming a health and safety inspector.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Mr Porter was 'well-known' among the community in Richmond

In 1964, Mr Porter captured the attention of thousands after he and three friends, Collin Pratt, Philip Ian and Peter Schollick, decided to drive an old RAF Landrover more than 3,000 miles to Morocco.

The trip which at the time cost around £280 was filmed with the hope their incredible journey would someday appear on TV.

A statement from The Porter family said: “It was quite an adventure for the time.

“Grandad was a talented engineer and skilled mechanic, and he loved restoring classic cars in his garage – such as his infamous Morris Minor and various Landrovers.”

Mr Porter was described as having many interest and hobbies, but his family said his greatest love was flying.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Mr Porter during his 3,000 mile trip to North Africa in the 60s

They said: “As a younger man he had a commission in the 2040 squadron of the Air Training Corps, specially selected by a senior RAF captain to be his private pilot for UK travel.

“He later gained his private pilots licence, often flying Cessna light aircraft out of Teesside airport.”

In his later years, Mr Porter of 27 Westfield was a member of Richmond Round Table, The 41 Club and the Richmond Guild of Mercers, Grocers and Haberdashers.

Mr Porter was also known to frequent in various pantomimes at the Georgian theatre, which his family said he could still perform and recite his roles 60 years on.

Paying tribute last night, his family said: “He was a hugely gifted man, kind and generous.

“He was all things to us – he could be serious, thoughtful, sometimes stern, but also had a great sense of humour.

“He loved to laugh with us. He always gave us wise counsel.

“He was one of the cleverest people we have ever known and he never, ever told us that he didn’t have time for us, or was too busy to help or advise us.

“We loved him very much and will miss him every day.”

Today, the town council have arranged for the Passing Bell to be rung in Richmond's market place as a sign of respect, with the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Lord attending.