Richard Nicholas Crossley

Richard Nicholas Crossley

Colonel Nick Crossley, who has died aged 81, was a soldier, farmer, MFH and a stalwart fund-raiser for charity.

Richard Nicholas Crossley, the younger son of the 2nd Lord Somerleyton, was born at Somerleyton Hall, Suffolk, on Christmas Eve 1932. His grandfather was created the 1st Lord Somerleyton in 1916 and the family, which originated from Yorkshire, founded the firm of Crossley Carpets of Halifax.

Nick was educated at Eton, where he rowed in the eight, and was commissioned from Sandhurst into the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers. He joined his regiment in BAOR and, in 1957, was posted as adjutant to the Queen’s Own Yorkshire Yeomanry at York.

After leaving the Regular Army, he and his family settled at a farm near Malton, Yorkshire. He devoted the next 30 years to the Territorial Army and commanded the Queen’s Own Yeomanry (QOY) from 1973 to 1976. He was Colonel TA North East District from 1978 to 1981, and TAVR ADC to the Queen from 1980 to 1983. He was Honorary Colonel of the QOY from 1990 to 1993.

Crossley was joint master of the Middleton Hunt for 22 years. He was sole master of the Derwent Hunt from 1976 to 1980 and for 28 years a master of the Goathland Hunt.

One winter’s day, he lost most of his hounds in a thick black fog. “What the ---- do I do now?” he cried. “You still have 10 couple,” a friend counselled. “Find a fox and hunt with them.” “All the b-----s who can hunt have gone missing,” Crossley lamented. “This lot are just spectators.”

He was High Sheriff of North Yorkshire in 1989-90, a Deputy Lieutenant for the county from 1988 to 2002, and a member of Her Majesty’s Bodyguard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms from 1982 to 2002. He worked tirelessly for the National Asthma Campaign (now Asthma UK), raising a substantial sum for the charity in memory of his wife, Xandra, who had died suddenly of asthma in 1990. He suffered another great tragedy in his life when his son John was killed in a skiing accident in 2003, a bitter blow which he bore with characteristic fortitude.

For some 30 years, he was an area governor of the Ocean Youth Trust but, as a sailor, he enjoyed mixed fortunes. A brother officer recalls stepping into a coracle which promptly overturned, decanting Crossley in the process. Crossley’s denunciations from the seabed, in no way impeded by four feet of muddy water, reached him with wonderful clarity.

On another occasion he and some friends set sail from Kiel, bound for Travemünde on Germany’s Baltic coast, where they planned to visit the casino. The voyage proved beyond Crossley’s modest navigational skills and they got lost and ended up in Denmark.

Their arrival coincided with a local festival. Poor weather had delayed the return of the menfolk in their trawlers, and Crossley and his friends danced and feasted with the fishermen’s wives throughout the evening. They deemed it prudent, however, to re-embark before the gallant mariners returned.

Appointed OBE in 2002 in recognition of his services to charity, in his latter years he travelled extensively and was riding regularly into his eighties. A keen shot and fisherman, he was also a good judge of hounds.

Nick Crossley married Alexandra Welch in 1958. He married secondly, in 1995, Priscilla Kennedy (née Graham), who survives him with two daughters of his first marriage.

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