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

Melvin Magnall made headlines on both side of the Atlantic when he 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, who was born in Brandlesholme and lived most of his life in the Ramsbottom and Shuttleworth area ­ before moving to Westhoughton, died at the Royal Bolton Hospital on June 27.

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A builder and stone mason by profession, Mr Magnall was a community stalwart, with his work recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1997 with a MBE award.

He was a long serving chairman of the Bury branch of the Ocean Youth Club at which he would share his love of sailing­— inspiring many young people to get their sea legs ­— a passion which would inspire him to go on a Millennium adventure.

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 Ocean and set up a Quaker colony on the banks of the Delaware River, which he 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 a round Trans-Atlantic sail at the age of 71 more than a decade after his dream was born.

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

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 a Member of the British Empire, the people he know ­— it was phenomenal. He was a builder from Bury. He would always use a saying, which has stuck with me, get it right at the bottom and it will be right at the top ­— and he applied that analogy to everything.

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Mr Magnall inspired the town twinning between Woodbury and Bury.

"He did so much for young people, he gave them opportunities with one of those who attended the club being the habourmaster. 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."

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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.