TRIBUTES have been paid to a man who helped turn a local cemetery into a well-respected centre of the community.

Raymond Mangham, a founding member of the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery group, has died aged 87.

Raymond, of Summer Lane, Wombwell, was described as a ‘really hard-working man’ by members of the group, which maintains the cemetery grounds.

A former RAF firefighter, Raymond reportedly never had a sick day in 51 years.

Mike Bretton, who established the group with Raymond alongside Tony Dutton, said: “He was down there every day helping anyone with anything. He leapt into anything with both feet.

“Over the years, he probably put more time in than anyone else. It’s well-respected now, and that’s down to Ray.

“He was fit as a flea all his life, but in the last few years it seemed to get hold of him.

“It’s a great shame and I’m sure he’ll be missed by a lot of people.”

Karen Whiting from the group added: “Ray was our history books, anything we wanted to find out, he’d have the answer.”

Ray lived in Wombwell all of his life, attending John Street School and then Wombwell Modern School.

Both before and after his national service with the RAF, he worked at Wombwell Foundry, before working in several Barnsley Council departments.

Prior to founding the Friends of Wombwell Cemetery, Ray was a vocal member of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

He was a well-loved member of the local community, selling poppies for the Royal British Legion’s Wombwell branch and opening his garden and house up to visitors at Christmas.

Ray leaves a brother, Peter, and nephews David and his wife Christine, and John and his wife Tracy.

The funeral service is scheduled on Wednesday at Barnsley Crematorium, with arrangements by Wombwell Funeral Services.