A FORMER mayor and town stalwart has turned author at the age of 86 with readers advised to have a tissue on standby as the writer delivers tales of joy and sorrow from his life.

John Richmond earned the name "Mr Ripon" and was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to his beloved city. Beyond the Farm Gate is the memoir of the former mayor and has been written in tribute to his beloved wife Barbara, who died from breast cancer in 2013. Proceeds from the 280-page book will go to Breast Cancer UK.

The current mayor of Ripon, Councillor Eamon Parkin said: "I just couldn't put it down, it is beautifully written and made me both laugh and cry and I'm sure it will similarly affect anyone fortunate enough to obtain a copy.

"Poignant passages, telling of sad events in John's life, are balanced with comical episodes, told with a Tyke's sense of humour. As I read the book, I was wiping tears of sorrow and laughter from my eyes."

John and Barbara were married for 55 years, in 1975-1976 serving as mayor and mayoress of the city. During their year of office, John represented the first and foremost Ripon with the mayors of younger namesakes in California and Wisconsin. He made the Transatlantic trip, at his own expense, to join in celebrations for the USA’s bi-centennial year.

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His description of the meeting of the three Ripon mayors and the greetings on the streets of San Francisco is one of the highlights of the book. There are also poignant stories from his childhood, growing up on a farm on the edge of nearby Dallowgill Moor. John recounts the sad tale of Old Bess, a war horse who served her country and was injured during the First World War.

After military service, the black mare arrived at Carr House Farm, where John was born in 1935. An accidental slip into a farm ditch, saw her suffer terrible injuries and she had to be humanely put to sleep. John, a life-long animal lover, was six at the time, but 80 years on the memory still brings tears to his eyes.

By contrast, a tale that always makes him smile is when he made history, by becoming the only serving mayor to act as Ripon hornblower. In December 1975 Ripon had just one hornblower, and he wanted to take a Christmas break from the nightly duty of setting the watch. With no fellow member of Ripon City Council willing to take on the ceremonial task, John said he would do it, but soon regretted his hastily made offer as he battled to get to grips with the duty - and the cold.

He received his BEM in the 2021 New Year’s Honours. The book costing £15, is available from Kirkby Malzeard historian Tony Sinfield, Ripon book shop or by calling 01765 607096.