Tributes have been paid to veteran and “real character”, John Jack McDowall.

The 107-year-old, known by all as Jack, died peacefully on June 13 after a long and amazing life.

He leaves behind his family, friends and fellow football fanatics, and will be “sadly missed” by all, grandson Neil McDowall said.

“He will definitely be missed – he was an inspiration” he said. “He was quite a character from a different era.”

Born back in 1913, the Carlisle-born-and-bred man was “unbeaten” by the Spanish flu, World War Two and coronavirus, and led a full life, working at Laings in the city centre, marrying his sweetheart Ethel and having their son, Don, who grew the now 40-strong family.

During the war, Jack played his major part as a driver in the Royal Engineers, landing at Normandy on D-Day, liberating concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, and remaining overseas for the following years to carry out necessary work.

For his achievements, the “inspirational man” received the Legion of Honour at the age of 102 – something he said he was simply awarded, “because he was old”, to the amusement of his family.

Illustrating his humour, one of the only war stories Jack shared with his grandson was of Carlisle’s seeming invasion of Europe.

“He was amazed that everyone in Europe seemed to be from Carlisle,” Neil said.

“He used to say it seemed like Carlisle had invaded Europe! They’d all have big football matches with players from Carlisle, and he was very fond of that memory.”

Along with driving until he was 102 years old and living on his own until the age of 105, Jack was an avid Carlisle United supporter until the end, attending matches with his son until Don's recent death.

On behalf of Jack’s beloved club, Carlisle United, Carlisle United chairman Andrew Jenkins said: “Jack had become a close friend of the club over recent years having also supported the club from a very young age.

“He loved to talk about the club and it was fascinating to hear his stories, particularly about him being at our very first home game in the Football League back in 1928.

“He was very thankful and grateful when he met his favourite player Hugh McIlmoyle when we celebrated his 100th birthday here at Brunton Park a few years ago.

“I know he will be missed hugely by his family and his friends at Barn Close, as he will be missed by us.”

Carlisle United’s Community Sports Trust manager John Halpin added: “Jack was just a lovely man. He was very involved with our activities and I know he really appreciated it when the club came along to see him, be that staff or players, because Carlisle United had been such a huge part of his life.

“We’ll all really miss him, and it will be strange not to see him in his usual spot when we go back to Barn Close.

“On behalf of everyone I send our heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.”

Jack’s funeral will be held on Tuesday (June 23) at 10.20am, with a procession from George Hudson & Sons to Carlisle Crematorium, and all are welcome to line the streets and pay their final respects to the “world’s biggest Carlisle United fan”.