KNOWN across the farming community as 'the calf man', Leo Robson, who died recently aged 93, was a familiar figure around the farms and marts in the North East and beyond for over sixty years.

Born in December 1927 at his grandfather's house in Stagshaw, Leo lived with his parents on a farm near Wall until he was around 5 years old, before they moved to Slaley.

After completing his National Service and his apprenticeship as an antiques restorer and cabinet maker, Leo joined his father Charlie on the farm and in the calf business which he had been running for some years.

While his father attended marts at Penrith and Carlisle, Leo went to Darlington and they attended the local mart at Hexham.

In the mid-fifties, Leo and his family moved to Allendale where he combined his farming with the calf business, which was expanding.

By then, they were going further afield, both to marts and supplying customers. Leo would say he had a mart for every day of the week; Darlington on Mondays, then Hexham, Barnard Castle, Ulverston and Leyburn, while his father still attended Penrith and Carlisle.

As his father grew older, Leo was joined by his sister-in-law Margaret Rowell.

By now, their customer base extended not only all over Northumberland, but took in County Durham, North Yorkshire, up over the Scottish Border and across into Cumbria.

After the Marts, he and Margaret would meet and sort their calves and load up the vehicles and set off in different directions to deliver to customers. This could be the local area, or maybe fifty or sixty miles away. He liked the calves to be with the customer the day they were bought.

Back then, a customer would leave a sack on the gate post as a sign they wanted a calf or had one for sale, or leave a message at a filling station where Leo was a regular customer.

Most of the calves were Shorthorns, Friesians, or Hereford or Angus. When Continental calves became popular, the first Charolais sold in 1963 caused quite a stir. Leo bought this for £23.10s.

In the late 40's/early 50's, Leo would say they were buying good calves for around £5, but when he retired, this was nearer £300.

His wife Marjorie said he had a lot of tales to tell of these times and of his days at the mart.

"He thoroughly enjoyed the life, the friendships he made and his customers, many of whom were long-standing - many second generation, and some third," said Marjorie.

"He didn't mind the long hours, and said his work was his hobby."

Although Leo carried on in a small way for a number of years after the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001, the strict rules for animal movement and the lack of calves and distances involved finding them proved difficult.

He retired, reluctantly, in 2013 at the age of 85.

Outside his business, Leo's passion was dancing. He played the piano accordion and the melodian when he was younger, and later was always to be seen at the Tynedale Accordion Club and similar venues.

Leo died in December, two weeks short of his 94th birthday. After a well-attended funeral, he was buried in Allendale Cemetery.

Leo leaves behind second wife Marjorie, his son Michael and his partner Helen, and grandchildren.