Tribute marks ‘King of the Road’

Ian Collinson (left) with his late friend Eric Evans. Picture supplied by Dennis Best.
Ian Collinson (left) with his late friend Eric Evans. Picture supplied by Dennis Best.

A memorial bench will be unveiled in memory of a man fondly known as Micklefield’s ‘King of the Road’.

Villagers have clubbed together to raise more than £1,000 to get the seat installed, in honour of the late Ian Collinson.

The 74-year-old had a passion for roaming the outdoors and despite having learning difficulties, asthma and hip problems, he was often spotted walking on beaten tracks in and around the village.

But tragedy struck last August, when Mr Collinson went missing from his home.

His body was found in nearby woodland nearly seven weeks later.

His brother Neil said: “Ian was a character. He really was great. He couldn’t read or write but he always had his own way of doing things.

“He was always outdoors walking but he never walked any more than four steps at a time before he needed to stop and catch his breath.

“He knew all the birds and rabbit holes. If he saw something that interested him, he was off.

“That was his character, if he got something into his head, he did it and put his all into it.

“He always stopped to talk and say hello. Everybody knew him. He is a great loss.”

Dozens of people joined in search parties to help find Mr Collinson. And members of the community less able to get involved came together to bake cakes and pies for their neighbours and police.

When news spread that he had died, people began raising money to fund a permanent tribute to him in the village.

And now his bench will be unveiled on a grassed area next to Churchville House Community Centre.

Neil said: “Every time I think about what an impact Ian has had on people, just by being himself, I burst into tears.

“People still talk about him with happiness in their voices.

“I feel really humbled that people in the village and surrounding areas like Sherburn and Garforth felt moved enough to put money in the pot for him.

“I don’t think Ian realised how popular he was. He was an old school gentleman.

“I think that if Ian knew what the people of Micklefield had done for him, he would be totally overwhelmed.”

The unveiling ceremony will take place at 1pm on Saturday and will include tributes from local councillors.