THE founder of Ruston’s Engineering Ltd of Huntingdon – RECO – died on Saturday at the age of 88 after a year-long battle against Motor Neurone Disease.

THE founder of Ruston's Engineering Ltd of Huntingdon - RECO - died on Saturday at the age of 88 after a year-long battle against Motor Neurone Disease.

A life-long love of farm machinery led to Harold Ruston setting up Ruston's Engineering Ltd in St Germain Street, in 1955.

Under his management, RECO grew of a five-man firm to become one of the leading importers of farm machinery in the UK.

Mr Ruston was born in Ermine Street, Huntingdon on July 2, 1923. Educated at Huntingdon Grammar School and Worksop College, he spent most of his spare time at F T Ruston and Sons Ltd, the family ironmongery and farm machinery business.

When he left school at the age of 17, he started as a 'counter jumper' at the firm's shop in Huntingdon serving customers but his love of farm machinery led him to that side of the firm.

He graduated from the Institute of Heating and Ventilation Engineers, but his work in the firm was interrupted when an RAF recruiting van pulled up in Huntingdon Market Square and Mr Ruston volunteered to join up.

After training as a navigator, he was posted to 57 Squadron, based at East Kirkby in Lincolnshire. Just 16 days after his 21st birthday, his Lancaster was shot down over France.

Four of his crewmates were killed. Mr Ruston parachuted to safety and spent four days on the run, before he was captured. He spent the rest of the war in a prisoner-of-war camp.

After he was liberated by the Russians, Mr Ruston got out of the forces and ten years later started his own business, run today by his nephew Ray. His son Nick and daughter Annie are also on the board of directors.

A keen sportsman - both watching and playing - Mr Ruston was heavily involved in Ramsey Cricket Club for whom he played for 40 years.

He also played football, hockey, tennis, and badminton to a good standard, and was an Arsenal season ticket holder.

In his 60s he became a member of Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

In addition to his sporting interests, he was an accomplished drummer and pianist and could hold a tune on the clarinet.

He was an extremely skilled model maker, having built a 5" gauge, working steam locomotive, a 6' wing span scale model of his wartime Lancaster and a 5' long scale model steam ship - all from raw materials.

Mr Ruston met his wife Pat at Ramsey cricket ground and they married in April 1950.

A family spokesman said: "Harold and Pat were a true partnership, always together at home, at agricultural shows, on overseas business trips, at Highbury, on countless local cricket grounds and at Worcester. They were not only man and wife; each was the other's best friend for over 60 years."

He is survived by Pat, Annie and her partner Roy, Nick and his wife Sonja, elder grandson Peter and younger grandson Andrew and his wife Natalie.