AN “INSPIRATIONAL” musical pioneer fondly remembered as one of the founding fathers of folk music in South Yorkshire was paid warm tributes after his death at 72.
Eric Pressley, who founded Wath Festival and the village’s morris dancing team, died from congestive heart failure two months after being diagnosed with the condition.
His talent was nurtured in folk music and his promotion of his passion ensured a widespread love and appreciation of the genre in his hometown.
Eric was also a loving husband to wife Chris, who led the tributes to him.
Chris, from Conisbrough, said: “First and foremost, Eric was a loving family man with a son of whom he was enormously proud.
“We were happily married for almost 40 years and would have celebrated our ruby Anniversary on June 2.
“He was a kind and generous man who was friends to all who knew him, and will be greatly missed by all.
“Having been born in Wath and lived there his whole life, Eric loved being part of the community.”
Chris (69) added: “In the early 1970s, Eric formed Wath Folk Club, first at Wath Rugby Club and later at a number of other venues around the town.
“With the folk revival underway across the country, Eric was instrumental in bringing a number of internationally acclaimed artists to Wath including Mike Harding and Christie Moore.
“He also assisted the school folk club in finding guests and supported the club as a floor singer.
“As the folk club became successful, Eric had the idea to hold a ‘May Welcoming Celebration’ in the community, which became Wath Festival in 1973.
“Realising that any traditional celebration would need an element of folk dance as well as song, Eric formed Wath Morris Team and proposed a country dance team.
“They celebrated its 50th anniversary this year and have grown to be a major regional folk event, which was down to Eric.”
Chris said her husband, who died on April 28, had shown a “determination” and “fighting spirit” which continued throughout his life in supporting people to achieve their dreams, as well as his own.
She added: “He was inspirational to many people in the way he applied himself to achieving his dreams and goals.
“My husband was very supportive of others in encouraging and backing them to accomplish their own ambitions.
“Eric was an accomplished musician playing several stringed instruments, including guitar, cittern and bouzouki and featured in local folk bands.
“He enjoyed singing — especially harmonising — and was a member of several local bands throughout his life.
“Eric was the founding father of the folk movement in Wath but his fame and influence spread much further.
“He will be sadly missed by folk musicians, singers and dancers throughout the UK.”