TRIBUTES have been paid to a community stalwart with a distinguished career in the railway, who has died aged 87.

Kenneth Brown, of Sheriff Hutton, started work at the age of 15 at a small railway station near Sheffield and remained a railwayman for the whole of his working life, interrupted only by national service in the Army, serving as a captain in India and Burma.

The early years involved station operations and personnel matters as he moved from post to post for promotion, but in the late 1950s, Kenneth attended evening classes on mechanisation in the railway accounting departments and this changed both his railway and personal future.

He sought a post in traffic accounting and as machines and electronics developed so did his expertise in programming them.

In 1963, Kenneth was appointed the senior programmer for the largest computer bureau in British Railways, in Peterborough, and eventually became the computer bureau manager.

Before taking early retirement, he was the data processing officer for the Eastern region based in York and ended his railway career developing the future of computers at the B R Board in Derby.

Eric Hayhurst, a lifelong colleague, said Ken had “a railway service of great distinction and experience which enabled him to serve many people and organisations for the rest of his life”.

On retirement in the 1980s, Ken joined the Citizens Advice Bureau, in Malton, as an advisor but quickly found he was specialising IT. He was still working there in 2013.

Ten years ago, he received a long service award for 20 years of service at the bureau.

Ken was also the treasurer of St Helen and the Holy Cross Church, in Sheriff Hutton, for more than 30 years and was still in post this year, becoming churchwarden emeritus. Churchwarden Roy Thompson said: “Ken had a strong faith and carried out his work quietly, efficiently and meticulously. “He always had a charm which showed through, be it in his work or with friends or visitors to his home. “He respected them and was respected in return by them; it has been a pleasure for us all to have worked with him right until his final hours.” The Archbishop of York noted Ken’s “tremendous record of service by ‘a very special person’”.

Ken was also a National Trust guide at Nunnington Hall, moving to York Civic Trust when he was asked to join Fairfax House as it prepared for its opening in November 1984.

Ken was also a regular member of Sheriff Hutton Bowling Club and a keen supporter of football and Yorkshire cricket. He leaves a son, Jonathan, and a daughter, Louise, and grandsons, Christopher and Matthew.

A service of thanksgiving will be held at St Helen and the Holy Cross, Sheriff Hutton, on Thursday, February 20, at noon.