Appleby has lost one of its true characters — a man who lived and breathed the town — Dick Stephenson, who ran the family business Stephenson’s Grocers, in Boroughgate, for around 40 years.
Alongside this he was also an integral part of Appleby’s groups, clubs and sports throughout his life.
Born at Penrith on 8th December, 1940, Dick was the son of Alec and Jennie Stephenson who ran and lived above the family shop.
Stephenson’s Grocers had originally been set up by Dick’s grandfather, Frederick Stephenson, around 1890.
They were also nurserymen who grew produce at Banks Nursery, which is now part of the Glebe housing estate.
Dick had one brother, also named Frederick, and they grew up in Appleby, attending St Lawrence’s School, now Pigneys shop, followed by Appleby Grammar School.
It was at school that Dick met his future wife, Joyce Burrell, who was in his class throughout their school years.
He left aged 16 and went straight into the family business.
He and Joyce married at St Michael’s Church, Appleby, in 1963.
They made their first home together at Chapel Street and their eldest son, Rod, was born in May, 1965.
Rod now lives in Crosby Garrett with his wife Julie and they have two daughters, Elloise and Marianna.
Their second son Nigel followed in April, 1968, and he lives in Spain and has one daughter, Eliza, with Sandra.
In 1966, Dick’s father died and, despite being only in his mid 20s and with a young family, Dick took over the running of the business.
The family moved above the shop, alongside which Dick’s work included running market stalls at Kirkby Stephen, Hawes and Sedbergh.
The business was sold to Cows and Co around five years ago and Dick was very appreciative that its director, Maurice Walton, of Appleby, kept the Stephenson name and continued to employ the same team of staff.
Throughout his life Dick immersed himself in the Appleby community.
He was involved in the town’s Round Table and chamber of trade and was also a retained firefighter for 25 years.
He played for Appleby Football Club for around five years and was a lifelong supporter of the town’s football and cricket clubs.
In his younger years he helped Kit Bousfield train trotting horses at Holme Farm, including driving the horses, but never competitively.
In his retirement Dick and Joyce enjoyed many days out to the races with Arthur and the late Ken Slack of Stoneriggs, Hilton, and Dick also enjoyed watching his granddaughters compete on their horses locally.
Two of the highlights of his life were sporting memories — the first was watching British racehorse Frankel win the International Stakes at York races, and the second was when England’s Ben Stokes hit an incredible 135 not out at Headingley in 2019 to give England victory over Australia and keep their Ashes hopes alive.
Another of Dick’s hobbies was shooting.
He kept gundogs throughout his life and spent many happy days on shoots with the Addisons at Kings Meaburn.
Dick also enjoyed fishing around Appleby.
Dick was known as a true character of Appleby, always ready with some banter, but also a kind and compassionate man who had time for anyone and was dedicated to his family.
Following a short illness he died at his home on Sunday, 31st January.
A private funeral will be held at Carlisle crematorium on Friday, 19th February and donations in his memory are to be given to Cancer Research UK through Glyn Jones Funeral Directors, who have care of arrangements.