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John Noakes goes out with bang as ashes shot into sky

The ceremony took place as per the former Blue Peter presenter's dying wish.

John Noakes's wife watches as their son lights the firework.
John Noakes's wife watches as their son lights the firework. SWNS

Former Blue Peter daredevil John Noakes went out with a bang when his ashes were sent skyward in a firework display, as per his final wish.

With a group of 25 friends and family gathered, his son lit a Roman Candle strapped to his ashes on the grounds of his old school near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Mr Noakes had asked that half his ashes should be scattered at Rishworth School and the other half in Majorca, where he spent his later years.

As the children's programme's longest-serving presenter, Mr Noakes became famous for coining the catchphrase "Get down Shep", as he tried to tame his border collie side kick on set.

Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with dog Shep in 1972.
Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with dog Shep in 1972. PA

Mr Noakes, who died in May aged 83, and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, had excelled in cross country running and gymnastics during his time at the school.

Family friend Wendy Astin, 78, said: "The ceremony was lovely - like a daytime firework display.

"It worked a treat.

"Afterwards we served his favourite meal - potted meat sandwiches, sausage rolls, fruit cake and red wine."

Mr Noakes was known as the adventurer and clown on Blue Peter and two of his exploits stand out as seeing him high up in the sky.

In 1973 the RAF Falcons asked Mr Noakes if he would like to make a freefall jump.

He became the first civilian in Britain to perform a five-mile freefall, gaining himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records, and was the first television presenter in Britain to talk to a camera while falling midair.

Former Blue Peter presenters (L-R) Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes in 2003.
Former Blue Peter presenters (L-R) Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes in 2003. PA

A 1977 episode saw Mr Noakes climbing Nelson's column, without harness or other safety gear.

Lifelong friend from school Mike Astin, 81, from Halifax, read a eulogy at the funeral service after his death earlier this year.

He said: "I have a friend who makes fireworks and also offers the service of sending ashes skyward.

"In my eulogy I finished up by saying if John had known about going in a rocket in this manner before he died he would have chuckled and said 'yes, I'll have some of that'.

"Vicky came up to me afterwards and said it was a good idea and that I ought to 'sort it out'."

Rishworth School is a co-educational school offering education for pupils aged between 3 and 18 years, with boarding from the age of 10.

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