A HAGLEY man who dedicated his life to the memory of a leading Black Country author has died aged 76.

Mourners paid tribute to Alan Rankin, a lay preacher and founder member of the Francis Brett Young Society at his funeral earlier this month.

Alan, from Cavendish Road, was a popular character in the literary world around the region, best known for his association with the society, who work to keep alive the memory of an author regarded as the midland’s Thomas Hardy.

Stan Hill, a fellow founder of the society, said: “Alan will be remembered as a gentle, kind, quietly amusing person with a ready wit and a friendly nature.

“His literary background made him an ideal person to take the Francis Brett Young Society into the 21st century, he will be greatly missed.”

Liverpool born Alan moved to Worcester in 1937 and became librarian at the city’s historic Grammar School a decade later.

After completing his national service Alan began a teacher training course and, after working at schools in the south of England, he accepted a job as an English teacher and librarian at Halesowen Secondary Boy’s School.

Alan and his wife Margaret moved to Hagley in 1965, the couple’s son David was born two years later and their daughter Elizabeth in 1972.

In 1968 he was licensed by the Church of England as a reader for the parish of Hagley.

Alan’s association with Brett Young began after a meeting with the author’s widow in 1966.

Alan contributed to Brett Young exhibitions and in 1979 became one of the founding members of the Francis Brett Young Society as secretary/treasurer and editor of the group’s journal.

Illness forced his retirement from teaching in 1982 but his love of books led him to start The Hagley Bookshelf, a small secondhand book business which was represented for 20 years at Kinver Book Fair.

Alan suffered a serious stroke in 2001 but remained active in the society despite deteriorating health, before his death on June 23.