A MODERN-day pioneer who rekindled a historic link between Bury and Woodbury in the USA to celebrate the millennium has died at the age of 82.

Melvin Magnall retraced the 1682 journey of Quaker Henry Wood in his yacht The Henry Wood ­— with the sail emblazoned with the Bury Times logo.

Mr Magnall, born in Brandlesholme and who lived most of his life in Ramsbottom ­ before moving to Westhoughton, died at the Royal Bolton Hospital.

A builder and stonemason by profession, Mr Magnall was a community stalwart, with his community work recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1997 with an MBE.

He was a long-serving chairman of the Bury branch of the Ocean Youth Club at which he would share his love of sailing.

Bury Times:

In the late 1990s, Mr Magnall decided to sail in his 36-ft-long yacht to retrace the long journey of Tottington Quaker Henry Wood, who fled to the USA in 1682 with his family to escape religious persecution.

The father-of-three became interested in Henry Wood from Greenmount after reading a short book about him.

Wood travelled across the Atlantic and set up a Quaker colony on the banks of the Delaware River, named Woodbury.

The voyage had to be abandoned in 2000 with Mr Magnall having to fly to Woodbury. But in 2009 he fulfilled his ambition of completing the sail at the age of 71.

He was given the key to the city and made an honorary American citizen.

Bury Times:

Son Malcolm said: “He was a builder from Bury who achieved so much. He showed it was good to dream but to achieve those dreams.

“When I reflect on what he did ­— sailing across the Atlantic, becoming an MBE, the people he knew ­— it was phenomenal."

Mr Magnall inspired the town twinning between Woodbury and Bury.

Added Malcolm: “He did so much for young people, he gave them opportunities with one of those who attended the club being the harbourmaster. Through that he knew Prince Edward and Admiral of the Fleet Sir Jeremy Black, who nominated my dad for the MBE.

“My dad gave young people a sense of adventure, he had that about him, our holidays were not gong to Benidorm, they were travelling Norway and camping ­— he was well travelled,” said Malcolm,,

“He was the biggest fundraiser for the Ocean Youth Club, no one could raise as much money as him, because he would approach everyone­— it didn’t matter who they were. And he walked the West Pennine Way in clogs to raise even more money!”

Malcolm said: “So you could say I am proud of him­— if I achieve half of what my dad did, then it will be a full life.”

Mr Magnall’s cousin Hervey Magnall said: “Melvin was very community-minded, he liked helping and supporting young people.

“He was very focused and once he got the bit between his teeth there was no stopping him, it meant the world to him when he completed the journey, and all those in Woodbury still remember him.

“When he got the MBE he was over the moon, taking my mother with him to Buckingham Palace.”

Hervey added: “He had start becoming ill about six months ago and up and until he had to stop driving, he would visit me at The Fisherman’s Retreat every day, he would still carry out work here.”

As well as being involved with the Ocean Youth Club, Melvin served as a school governor and was also a Freemason.

“He had a large network of friends, he was so well known, and would keep in touch with them,” said Hervey.

Mr Magnall’s wife, Dee said she was so proud of her husband for all his achievements.

She said: “His son Malcolm summed Melvin up, saying he was a dreamer but an achiever.

“He would make things happen, he was a larger than life character and just so loved by so many.”

A funeral service will take place on July 17 at St Anne’s Church, Tottington, led by the Rev Hugh Bearn, who was part of the Bury-Woodbury millennium celebrations.