Ian McVittie, who has died at the age of 91, was a stalwart of the Penrith business community whose passion for adventure took him around the world.
Ian was the third of four generations to work at the well-known McVitties shoe shop in Middlegate which for more than a century was popular with parents and their children — and farmers — and provided repairs.
His family’s long association began in the 1850s when his grandfather, Richard, began working for what was originally Todd Brothers as an apprentice cobbler.
Richard then took over the business in an area of town centre “yards” which were home to an intriguing range of trade workshops, including those linked to saddlery and joinery.
“It was a high street shop that everybody went to,” Ian’s youngest son, Graeme, said of McVitties.
“Even now, people say they remember going in there with the fancy devices for measuring feet.
“Everybody would be in there. It would be like a little meeting place. It’s a real shame these family businesses aren’t really there any more.”
Ian was born in Penrith in 1930, the youngest of two sons to Herbert and Rene McVittie, and had an elder brother, Fraser.
He was educated at Brunswick Road and Penrith Grammar schools and during the Second World War his family took in refugees from the North East to their Brunswick House home in Brunswick Square.
Ian’s national service was spent in the Royal Air Force with radar and reconnaissance duties in the North East before returning to Penrith, having been destined to join the family business.
He completed his training and apprenticeship, travelling to the Somerset base of shoe-maker Clarks and working in shops in Bristol before immersing himself in work at the family’s traditional Penrith store.
He initially served alongside his father before assuming control and continuing until his retirement in the mid-1990s, with one of his three sons, the late Richard, also working there for a time.
Ian married Nora Milburn, whose family lived in the Appleby area, at Long Marton during the early 1950s.
His wife carried out accountancy and bookkeeping work for various businesses, including British Gypsum.
His taste for adventure began as a member of the scouts, and he later became a leader who also headed up Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme outings.
He enjoyed fell walks, boating on Ullswater and camping, and was a member of Penrith mountain rescue team for many years as he sought to help others enjoying the local landscape.
Mike Graham, past chairman of Penrith mountain rescue team said: “He was a much valued member of Penrith mountain rescue team, not least because of his local knowledge, especially in the Pennines – where he collected specimens for his geological collection. “
He was, for many years, the team’s treasurer.
He also travelled extensively and visited every global continent other than Antarctica.
In the early 1950s he and a friend shrugged off the logistical challenges of navigating Spain while under the rule of dictator Francisco Franco, trekking in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia, visiting Spanish Morocco and witnessing severe poverty as they went.
He reached Everest and K2 base camps, and was a keen skier whose exploits on a day’s skiing in a summer snow drift near his home, on Great Dun Fell — as Wimbledon centre court crowds basked in soaring temperatures in London — were captured by a national newspaper photographer.
Remaining active in his later years, Ian socialised regularly with a wide circle of friends.
Passionate about the town business community, he was chairman of Penrith Building Society for a lengthy spell and also Penrith Chamber of Trade.
His father and grandfather had previously given loyal service to the town council, and he was proud of the fact that the latter held the casting vote as members backed plans for Penrith Castle Park to be given formal “park” status.
Ian, who latterly lived at Parklands Way, Penrith, is survived by sons Gordon, who lives in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Graeme, of Devon; grandson Nathen, of California; and his brother Fraser, of Sheffield.
His wife, Nora, died in 2007.
Arrangements are being handled by Richardsons Funeral Directors, Penrith.