Lov­able ec­cen­tric loses bat­tle for life

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - KAREN BRITTON

HE was an ec­cen­tric, bearded en­trepreneur, a whacky chim­ney sweep and a grandad wizard.

But in what­ever guise you knew Stephen Howard it would be hard to dis­agree he was a one-off and will be missed around the town fol­low­ing his death aged 63.

Mr Howard ap­peared in the Ex­press nu­mer­ous times for his ex­ploits, which some­times got him in trou­ble. He was banned from his lo­cal pub The Red Lion for more than 40 years and lob­bied the Guin­ness Book of Records for hav­ing the longest pub ban in the world.

And he won no­to­ri­ety in 2004 af­ter hir­ing a 13-car- riage train to com­pete against Richard Bran­son by run­ning a ser­vice be­tween Lon­don and Manch­ester called Swift Line.

He also fea­tured in the pa­per af­ter find­ing a hu­man bone at St Lawrence’s Church in Over Peover, and on an­other oc­ca­sion was em­ployed as a ‘her­mit’ at Tat­ton Flower Show.

His

fam­ily

say

he de­serves one fi­nal piece of recog­ni­tion af­ter his death, on Oc­to­ber 24 at East Cheshire Hospice, af­ter bat­tling oe­sophageal can­cer.

Daugh­ter Tracy Gre­gory, who lives in Aus­tralia with hus­band Joe and daugh­ters Jes­sica and Alex, ex­plained that Stephen was also known as Kim, short for Ke­mosabe, a term used in The Lone Ranger mean­ing ‘faith­ful friend’.

She said: “Dad was a lov­able ec­cen­tric who en­joyed meet­ing peo­ple and hav­ing a good time.

“He had a pas­sion for trains and fire en­gines and had his own col­lec­tion of vin­tage ve­hi­cles at home.

“He was a true be­liever in stand­ing up for what he be­lieved in, which man­aged to land him in hot wa­ter on many oc­ca­sions.

“He was a lo­cal char­ac­ter and will be sadly missed by fam­ily and friends.

“We thank the hospice and Macmil­lan car­ers for his ex­cep­tional care.”

Mr Howard was born in Sal­ford and moved to the We­ston in Mac­cles­field aged four be­fore mov­ing to Dick­low Cob, Lower Withing­ton, in the 1970s af­ter mar­ry­ing Su­san, who still lives there.

His jobs in­cluded chim­ney sweep, builder and DJ. He was dad to Lee and Claire, and grandad to Wil­liam, Jes­sica and Alex.

Tracy said: “My girls loved hear­ing his sto­ries and en­joy a singsong over the phone.

“We’re hon­oured for the Ex­press to pay trib­ute to dad. He would have been so chuffed with one fi­nal story.”

The funeral is to­day (Wed­nes­day) at St Thomas Church, Hen­bury, and Mac­cles­field Ceme­tery.

●● Stephen (right) and David Kemp­son in The Hermitt’s Grotto at Tat­ton Show

●● Stephen Howard with daugh­ters Claire and Tracy, wife Su­san and grand­daugh­ter Alexan­dra

●● Stephen was seen as a chim­ney sweep around Mac­cles­field

●● Stephen launched his own train ser­vice

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