HE was a true worker of the land who served on farms across the North of England.

But life could have been so much different for Cecil Bowman, who applied to join the Merchant Navy during the early years of the Second World War.

The teenager was rejected - not on health grounds - but because the authorities said his farming skills were vital to the war effort.

Almost 70 years since that life-changing moment, tributes are being paid to Hexham man Cecil, who died on November 18, aged 95.

“He was a very thoughtful and caring man,” said Cecil’s son Jimmy Bowman, of Haydon Bridge.

“Dad was very resourceful and good with his hands. He could do anything. If something was broken, he could fix it.”

Born in Penrith in 1925, Cecil left school at the age of 14. His versatility shone through at an early age, as he found work in a pie shop and a joinery, among other establishments, where he carried out odd jobs.

He began working on farms in Cumbria, and even ploughed a field in the vicinity of what was to become the Sellafield nuclear power station, near Seascale.

His work took him further afield, and Cecil moved to Cornhill-on-Tweed, south west of Berwick, and into the Tyne Valley, at Slaley.

The multi-skilled Cecil moved on again, and spent 20 years working in the sawmill at Allendale Estates.

Cecil was married to the late Ann, who died in 2018, and was the proud father of Sheila, Jimmy, Joyce and Heather.

A granddad of 12, and a great-granddad of 20, Cecil loved Scottish and accordion music, and took his spoons with him whenever he went to listen to bands, so he could accompany them.

Whenever family members travelled to Spain, they would bring him back maracas, but Cecil always preferred his spoons.

While living in Hexham during his retirement, Cecil enjoyed looking after people, doing their shopping, gardening, and collecting their newspapers.

An active member of Hexham’s Trinity Methodist Church, he served there for a number of years as caretaker.

In later life, Cecil was a resident at Hexham’s Elm Bank Care Home, and enjoyed getting out and about on a mobility scooter which he had generously been given.

But in recent months his health deteriorated and Cecil died at Hexham General Hospital.

Jimmy said the family wanted to thank staff on ward two and ward four of the hospital, for looking after Cecil, and also the trinity methodist chapel for their support in the aftermath of his death.

A family funeral will take place at St Andrew’s Cemetery in Hexham on Tuesday, December 1.