Burnley children’s role model and support worker dies (58)

CLIFF DUERDEN
CLIFF DUERDEN

A BURNLEY support worker and true gentleman who was a role model and hero to hundreds of disaffected children, whose lives he helped change for the better, has died.

Mr Clifford Derek Duerden, who was behaviour intervention co-ordinator at Blessed Trinity RC College, died last Friday, aged 58. A former pupil of Burnley Wood Secondary Modern School, Mr Duerden spent some of his early years in Zimbabwe.

He left school with no qualifications, preferring to spend his time playing football and cricket, and met his wife Marlene when he was just 13. He started an engineering apprenticeship with CEGB, impressing the company with his attitude and determination to succeed, but it was cut short as his parents’ jobs meant the family moved to Nigeria. Unable to settle, the Duerdens moved back to Burnley again, where Mr Duerden was reunited with Marlene.

In the 1970s he worked for Burco Dean in Accrington Road. Once again, Mr Duerden’s parents decided on a move abroad, to South Africa. This time Clarets fan Mr Duerden took Marlene with him and they married in Brits in 1974. After three years, the couple returned to Burnley before moving to Hampshire for a short time. They came back to Burnley and, after completing a course at Burnley College, he enrolled on a full-time degree course in social sciences at Sheffield University where he gained a 2:1 degree. After volunteering at Burnley Wood and Todmorden Road Primary schools, he quickly found his true calling in life – working with disaffected young people. He worked at St Theodore’s RC School, and most recently Blessed Trinity. Colleagues said the children saw Mr Duerden as a “go to person – a man who they had the utmost respect for and who believed in them.”

A Facebook set up in memory of Mr Duerden, who loved Northern Soul Music and was a talented goalkeeper, has been flooded with tributes.

A statement from Blessed Trinity said: “He went above and beyond the call of duty, and will be remembered as a man who changed lives. The Northern Soul motto ‘keep the faith’ could well have been Cliff’s motto, he kept faith in the children he cared for, never giving up on them, and not once did he show a lack of faith or loyalty in his family commitments and relationships.

“Every job he had he made lasting friendships and – more than anything – he changed young people’s lives for the better.”

Mr Duerden leaves Marlene, daughters Lorraine, Kathryn and Rachel, sisters Elaine, Christine and Stephanie and brother Shaun.