THE president of brewery Thwaites, John Yerburgh, has died, aged 91. Mr Yerburgh, who was chairman of the Blackburn firm until he stood aside in 1993, was a direct relative of company founder Daniel Thwaites.

He had a 67-year involvement with the Penny Street firm and was affectionately known by staff as ‘Mr John’.

He died peacefully at his home in Scotland with wife Ann, chairman of the brewery, by his side. He also left five children and seven grandchildren.

Thwaites chief executive Rick Bailey said: “John Yerburgh always cherished his family’s 200-year-old association with Blackburn throughout his long life. His long and committed involvement to Thwaites and support of the town and its people will be sorely missed.”

Mr Yerburgh’s involvement in the family firm started after the Second World War, where he saw action in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He joined the Irish Guards in 1941, rose through the ranks to Captain, and served with the Guards Armoured Division.

He was also an intelligence officer and technical adjutant during the Normandy landings and the European campaign and was among the first troops to enter Brussels in 1944.

Mr Yerburgh was the grandson of Elma Thwaites – daughter of Daniel Thwaites – who took the name Yerburgh when she married the then Chester MP Robert in 1888.

He was appointed a director of Thwaites in 1947, becoming chairman in 1966.

The brewery was a major part of his life and he guided the company’s doubling of its number of licensed outlets, always insisting that any new purchases were freehold and not built with flat roofs. He oversaw the successful expansion of the company’s free trade activities across the North West and in the 1960s and early 1970s rebuilt the Blackburn town centre brewery, which became recognised as one of the most modern in Europe.

A Thwaites spokesman said: “He was greatly respected by all his employees. From the top to bottom he knew his staff, workers and pensioners. He was a great supporter of the brewery’s shire horses and was elected president of the Shire Horse Society in 1983/4.

“He was especially keen to help local causes and supported the setting up of Daniel Thwaites Charitable Trust, which annually distributes a portion of profits.”