A giant of our newspaper for 33 years

Barry Ayre.
Barry Ayre.

A fell-lover, local historian, raconteur and mainstay at The Visitor has died, aged 77.

Barry Ayre was advertising manager, then circulation manager during a 33 year career with the town’s newspaper.

Barry grew up during the war years and retained vivid memories of the German bombers flying over Barrow shipyard.

Membership of the 16th Morecambe and Heysham Scouts was more important to him than academic studies at Lancaster Boys Grammar School and introduced him to the mountains and joys of the Lake District.

At 19, National Service on the Island of Sylt in Germany gave him the opportunity to hitchhike around Northern Europe – “the university of life” he called it. He financed this by selling his cigarette rations to the Germans!

Back home, through his Catholic friends Barry was introduced to the Catholic Boys Climbing Club.

His enthusiasm and efforts helped raise thousands of pounds towards various Catholic projects in Lakeland, and he later became a trustee of the club.

It was appropriate that his marriage to Monica in 1989 was the first marriage to take place in the ARCC Chapel of Our Lady of the Snows, Langdale, which he had been instrumental in building.

Describing himself as a frustrated journalist and printer, Barry became editor of the magazine of the Arnside and Silverdale AONB, the Keer to Kent, after he retired from The Visitor. ]

As well as supporting Monica in her profession, this became his pride and joy.

Membership of Arnside Ramblers gave him the opportunity to share his love of the fells with like-minded friends, and within no time he was a group leader.

It was in Barry’s nature to always put more into an organisation than he took from it.

Health issues in later life meant that Barry was forced to pursue less active hobbies, and these included membership of Widening Horizons, The Mourholme History Society, The Arnside Archive Group, Probus and Baker’s Dozen.

His sense of humour and extensive knowledge and information of the local area made him a welcome member.

Barry will be remembered by his many friends for his infectiously enthusiastic outlook on life and indomitable spirit, as well as his unfailing friendliness, wicked humour, corny jokes, but most importantly his beautiful smile.

He leaves behind his wife Monica, daughters Rachel and Ruth and two grandsons.

Requiem Mass to celebrate Barry’s life took place at Christ the King Church, Milnthorpe on February 9, and was attended by over 300 friends and family.