Pioneering health boss ‘fiery Fred’ dies

dedicated: Fred Parr
dedicated: Fred Parr

A SELFLESS pioneer who set up the modern health service in Burnley has died aged 95.

Fred Parr was known as “Fiery Fred”, the man who ran the hospitals and health centres. He knew all the staff and exactly what was going on.

Mr Parr, who lived in Wheatley Lane, died in Pendle Community Hospital, the hospital he fought to have built as a replacement for Reedyford Hospital which was bulldozed to make way for the M65.

He started his hospital career at Reedyford before the NHS was founded and became the equivalent of chief executive of Burnley and District Hospital Management Committee in 1948, a post he held until he retired in 1981, aged 65.

His passion to improve the health and welfare of local people led to building the Accident and Emergency and Outpatients’ departments and the Edith Watson Maternity Unit at Burnley General, as well as twin operating theatres, the Lamont Clinic, the pathology laboratory, the education centre, the geriatric day hospital and the Mackenzie Medical Centre, of which he was secretary. He was also instrumental in building seven health centres, and five clinics in villages.

Mr Parr said his strong Christian commitment steered him away from private business, and he felt working in the health service meant he could make a difference. He said: “I was never involved with the profit-making motive; I don’t think it would have been good for me.”

A tee-totaller and non-smoker, Mr Parr was married to Mary, for 56 years. He leaves a son, Graham, and daughter-in-law Ruth, four grandchildren and 10 great grand children.

A member of the Plymouth Brethren, he was one of the founders of Hebron Hall, Brierfield, where his funeral will take place at 11 a.m. on September 8th. Mr Parr will be buried at Wheatley Lane Inghamite Church, at 12-30 p.m.