A KILBIRNIE man who was awarded a Veteran’s Medal in 2013 for service during World War II has died aged 97.

John Clifford, who lived in St Alban’s in Hertfordshire, served for five years with the Merchant Navy and he was part of the Arctic Convoy.

The former grocer, turned singer was well-known in the local area for his renditions of Burns at the Rosebery Burns Club and would travel up to Kilbirnie as a guest of brother Joe, who still lives in the Garnock Valley.

Speaking to the Herald back in 2013 when he was awarded his Veteran’s Badge, John said: ““Life was an adventure at that age but the danger was brought back to me when I saw a ship being torpedoed and we couldn’t help them - it brought the reality of the situation home to you.

“I was fortunate to come through it, although I lost some friends. My mother’s prayers kept me safe.”

When the war ended John received a grant to study singing and music at the Royal Academy in London for four years. He then joined an opera company and toured many festivals, including Edinburgh and Berlin, as well as singing in West End musicals. One of his career highlights was singing with Australian Dame Joan Sutherland.

Following his distinguished performance career he started his own business delivering Farm House Eggs and Potatoes at which time he was dubbed the ‘singing egg man’ before retiring at 83.

John’s brother Joe, 88, said that he was very proud of his brother and he still doesn’t know how a family of 11, of which eight survived, from Loadingbank, have such good genes, with two sisters still living in Australia aged 90 and 92.

John passed away in St Alban’s on October 24 and his funeral will take place later this month.