POSTMAN Pat creator John Cunliffe has died at the age of 85.
Mr Cunliffe, who lived in Ilkley, died on September 20 and his funeral was held at a woodland burial site yesterday.
The gifted author found fame with his Postman Pat stories. He also created and starred in the children's TV series Rosie and Jim, as well as writing many collections of poetry and children's books.
A death notice in today's Ilkley Gazette reads: "Left his Ilkley home in a deluge of rain on Thursday, September 20, never to return. Even the skies wept for John the gifted creator of "Postman Pat", "Rosie and Jim" and author of many earlier published collections of poetry and picture story books for children. John's last poetry collection, significantly entitled "Dare You Go", has now come to fruition for John has dared to go and he has gone."
Mr Cunliffe leaves a widow Sylvia and a son Edward.
He had lived in Ilkley for many years and was an important contributor to the town's literature festival.
Today a tribute appeared on the Ilkley Literature Festival website.
It said: "We were very sad to hear that John Cunliffe, creator of Postman Pat, Rosie and Jim and many other much loved children’s characters passed away last week.
"John, who was a long time Ilkley resident, became Patron of our Children’s Festival when it started in 2003 and delighted children and parents at many Festival events over the years."
Festival Director Rachel Feldberg said: "We were honoured to have John as Patron of our Children’s Festival and I have wonderful memories of events he did with us. His work, particularly Postman Pat, was iconic for everyone who grew up reading, watching and loving those characters and will continue to delight children for generations to come.
Our thoughts are with John’s wife and family at this time."
The author started writing about Pat and his cat Jess while teaching in Kendal in the 1970s. The fictitious Greendale, where the stories are set, is based on Longsleddale.
Speaking to the Westmorland Gazette in 2009 Mr Cunliffe said the appeal of Pat lay in the excitement children felt when the post arrived.
"The postman to a child is someone who brings birthday cards and birthday presents – they are not aware that he also brings tax returns and bills," he said.
"To a child a postman is an exciting person and a familiar person, especially in a rural village."
Last year Mr Cunliffe waded into a row about the reintroduction of library fines for children by Brighton and Hove City Council.
The author, who was previously a librarian in Brighton, said: "This whole business of library fines is against what libraries are all about and these fines will just end up charging children who are trying to read more and educate themselves."
Numerous tributes have been paid to the author on Twitter, where he is described as an "absolute legend."