TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘pioneer for rural transport’ who dedicated his life to helping the community.

Born and bred in Elsdon, Howard Snaith (91) spent his childhood as a choirboy at the local church and played football for the village team, winning multiple cups and tournaments before becoming manger.

His son, also called Howard, said: “He would help transport people from the village to Newcastle matches, but also people who wanted to go to town.

“His life revolved around buses and helping people out.”

Early in his career, Howard snr worked at the former Elsdon Colliery where he became manager. After the colliery closed, he used his redundancy money to buy two cars to provide patient transport and he formed a taxi service in the 1970s.

From there, Howard bought his first two buses and started to expand his service to the wider community.

“At the time there was a lot of people in Otterburn who needed transport including villagers and the personnel at Otteburn Camp, “ Howard jnr said.

The Howard Snaith transport business was born and grew to become a vital transport link between rural Northumberland and the wider North-East region.

The business’ high status also earned the firm a contract to transport athletes in Newcastle and London during the 2012 London Olympics, a career highlight.

Howard snr carried on working up until the final weeks before his death, maintaining the businesses and ensuring everything was running smoothly.

His son added: “He had an attitude of success and hard work throughout, and if that dedication wasn’t put in early on then the business wouldn’t be where it is today.

“Howard was a pioneer for rural transport and an advocate for rural travel, especially with the small pockets of people throughout the North Tyne and Redesdale.”

Howard Snaith snr was a beloved husband to Alison, father to Howard and father-in-law to Rachael.