ONE of the Tyne Valley’s best known centenarians has died at the age of 107.

Allen Smith died peacefully in Elm Bank Care Home in Hexham on January 10.

At the time of his death, Allen was the oldest man in the North-East and believed to be the eighth oldest man in the UK.

Originally from Allendale, Allen moved to Hexham in 1962 with his wife, Ruth.

Following Ruth’s death 17 years ago, Allen lived independently at home until Christmas 2016, when he moved into Elm Bank.

Allen served as an engineer on RAF planes in the UK and Belgium during the Second World War, before working for many years as an electrical engineer. Allen cheated death in Belgium, when a plane swooped low to fire bullets at him and his friend. They both dived into separate ditches for cover, but while Allen survived, his friend was not so fortunate.

Allen was also a keen dancer, and played bowls and the accordion in his later life.

But he was perhaps best known for his long-time participation in Allendale’s New Year Tar Bar’l celebrations.

Allen first became a guiser and carried a barrel at age 15 and continued until 2008.

In 2013, at the age of 101, Allen led the parade, proudly holding a torch aloft.

Allen put his longevity down to little alcohol, regular exercise and a diet of fresh meat and vegetables.

But it also looks to be down to good genes – his brother Lawrence is 98 and still continues to live independently in the house in Allendale where he was born.

Allen’s nephew, Malcolm Whitfield, paid tribute to the people who had supported Allen in his later years.

He said: “There’s not a lot more that I can say.

“The people round about him when he was living alone were kind to him and Elm Bank looked after him well. Care homes come in for a lot of criticism, but not Elm Bank.”

Allen’s funeral service will take place at Hexham West End Methodist Church on Tuesday, January 22, before he is laid to rest at Hexham Cemetery.