Tributes paid to Leeds ‘diamond geezer’

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A ‘diamond geezer’ who was known as a musician, mechanic, landlord or sheepdog handler has died.

Frank Swindells, 63, died on January 11 after a short battle with cancer.

Born in Harlech Terrace, Beeston, Leeds, in 1952 to teachers George and Nora, Frank was the youngest of four siblings.

The family moved to Beeston Road in the 1960s, and when Nora became ill in later life, Frank moved back to take care of her.

As a motor mechanic he fixed cars in the garage and provided endless cups of tea for the many customers and friends who came through the gate.

Over the years Frank took in dozens of lodgers, putting a roof over the heads of many people who may have otherwise struggled.

He was well known and respected on the Leeds music scene as a talented harmonica player, appearing with bands including Earthmen and Boogie and Cheese at the Grove Inn and the Duck and Drake.

He was also a regular at his cousin Jennifer’s farm in Pateley Bridge where he made many friends, fixing cars and joining the Ryedale Sheepdog Society, often winning sheepdog trials with his beloved border collie, Floss.

He was known for his love of Moto GP, especially star rider Valentino Rossi; blues music, restoring classic motorbikes and cars, flying model aeroplanes and riding motocross bikes.

His wife Lesley said: “When we first met Frank told me he was like a diamond - multifaceted. He could turn his hand to anything and was always really good at it.

“He was known by so many people for many different things but one thing we all share is how much we will miss his warm, kind, mischievous and fun loving presence.”

Band mate Karl Baxter said: “For nearly 20 years, I and many others had the privilege of playing with one of the best blues harp players and a gentleman to boot. A large harmonica shaped hole will be left in the Leeds music scene and in the lives of everyone who knew him.”

Frank leaves behind Lesley, daughter Gina, sons David and John, sisters Jill, Janet and Susan, and cousin Jennifer, as well as many close family members and friends.

His life will be celebrated at a ceremony at Cottingley Crematorium on Thursday, January 28 at 3pm. His family has said all are welcome to attend.