Alston Moor coal merchant and all-round “local legend” Vincent Peart snr died on Sunday, aged 86.
@8pt Body:Born at Nenthead in 1934, Vince grew up in the village and was educated by receiving lessons in the living room of a local woman — as was the format of schooling back in the 1930s and 1940s.
He left school at 14 and started work. Vince worked in and around Alston Moor his entire life.
He found employment in local coal mines, driving lorries, gritting the roads in winter and at Alston foundry.
From the early 1980s until 2006 at the age of 72, he worked as a self-employed coal merchant.
His regular coal rounds took him to Slaley, Longtown, Carlisle, Brigham, Great Broughton, and Broughton Moor.
In his latter years, upon retiring from his coal business, he was employed by Alston Parish Council as a groundsman; tending to the town’s communal areas and green spaces.
After meeting Vanessa in the early 1980s, they had a son together who he named Vince jnr — with father and son being affectionately known by locals as “Big Vince” and “Little Vince”.
A keen lover of horse racing and greyhounds, Vince would often be seen at northern horse racing courses in Hexham and Carlisle, and at the dogs in Workington.
He owned greyhounds of his own and had a West Cumbrian champion in “Sam”.
Vince was a well-known man throughout Cumbria, on account of his travels with his coal round, trips to horse races and ownership of greyhounds.
He also spent time as an Alston Moor parish councillor and helped run the working men’s club, which was based where Alston Town Hall still stands to this day.
Vince loved talking to people, learning about their lives, and helping out wherever he could.
He took a keen interest in others and was always available for some “crack”, a laugh, or a kind word.
In 2005, he became known to the wider world when his son, Vince jnr, launched a campaign to attract women to Alston; claiming that there was a ratio of 10 single men to every woman and pleading for eligible females from around the world to flock to the town.
As well as being interviewed by the press about his son’s campaign, Vince snr starred in the Channel 4 documentary The Town That’s Looking for Love which premiered in November, 2006.
Tributes to Vince from the local community have all commented on his friendly nature, fondness for crack, and his unique, personable character.
He will be fondly remembered by friends and family alike for his quick wit and sharp humour.
Vince is survived by his only son, Vince jnr, who now lives in Blaydon after leaving Alston to train as a social worker in 2007, and his grandchildren Jack and Penny.