A POPULAR Dalesman who was the driving force behind the Wensleydale Creamery for almost three decades has died aged 58.

David Hartley, who was managing director of the Hawes-based Wensleydale Dairy Products Ltd, died on Wednesday this week following a year-long battle with cancer.

Ill health meant that Mr Hartley had been away from the business for this past year, and the company says he will be sadly missed by all.

A company spokesman said Mr Hartley was instrumental in the management buyout which saved the Creamery in 1992.

Over the past 28-years, under his direction, the business became an integral part of the local community, with coveted recognition for its award-winning range of cheeses.

In February last year, Mr Hartley was presented with the coveted John Beckett Memorial Cup at the 2019 Cream Award and alongside the management team, he cemented Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese as a household favourite, both in the UK and internationally.

Paying tribute to Mr Hartley's legacy, a company spokesman said: "Each and every day he injected passion, quality and enthusiasm into both his business and personal life.

"David will be terribly missed by all his friends and colleagues at the Wensleydale Creamery.

"David was a devoted family man, and our thoughts are with his wife, two daughters and family, who have asked for privacy at this difficult time."