HOWARTH: Charlie

Died October 2007, aged 101: Charlie Howarth, of Pledwick Rise, Sandal, attracted media attention in March 2007 when he was crowned one of Britain's oldest drivers. The Wakefield Express  was told how he had been on the road for more than 80 years and national newspapers picked up on his claim.  His story even appeared in The Sun and he went on to be interviewed on both BBC and ITV. His son Andrew said: “He loved all the publicity and became quite famous for his achievement. He basked in the notoriety.” When Charlie began driving in 1924, he had a Model T Ford with wooden wheels. Before he retired, Mr Howarth worked as a wheelwright, making wheels for carts and milk floats before becoming managing director of coach building company Northumbrian Metals.

Speaking in March 2007, Charlie Howarth dispelled the myth that older people drive more slowly. He said: “I gained my first speeding ticket at 99 and have since had another for speeding and one more for skipping a red traffic light. But I feel a lot safer driving my car than I do walking.” Andrew told the Wakefield Express at the time of his father’s death: “His health had been deteriorating but he was still active. Only last week he cleaned the car and pumped up the tyres with a foot pump and when he went to bed on Saturday night he had laid out his breakfast things and clothes for the next day. He certainly wasn’t one of those old people suffering with illness and just waiting to die – just that day we had been to the Star Inn on Standbridge Lane for a drink and a chat with the regulars." Mr Howarth was married for more than 60 years to Janet, who died in 1996. They had one son, three granddaughters, and six great-grandchildren. The funeral service was at St James’ Church, Thornes.

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