Burnley FC super-fan Rocky praises Pendleside Hospice following wife Jean's cancer diagnosis

Jean and Rocky at Pendleside Hospice
Jean and Rocky at Pendleside Hospice
Share this article

Visitors to Pendleside are being kept well informed about the progress of the Clarets by the wife of one of their most famous supporters who is a day-care patient at the hospice.

Jean Mills is the 77-year-old wife of Rocky who was the star of a TV documentary Football’s Hardest Away Days.

As the wife of Rocky she’s been christened Rockette by other Burnley fans and was a familiar face in the Jimmy McIlroy Stand until she was diagnosed with cancer.

Jean, who helps Rocky look after their animals on their three-acre smallholding in Wood End Reedley, attends the hospice one day a week taking part in a whole host of therapies including physio, community singing, canal trips and her favourite hobby knitting which unfortunately she has had to curtail because of her illness.

Rocky (75) whose real name is Derek, said: “She loves going to the hospice. She enjoys all that goes on there and talking to other people who are in the same boat as her. Some are a lot worse but everyone is so happy when they are there.

“She has always been keen on knitting but not clothes. She knits tapestry-type things like pictures of horses which she frames.”

Jean and Rocky married 18 years ago and do everything together. Apart from watching the Clarets, before she was poorly, they also went touring in their caravan. Her favourite Burnley player is goalkeeper Nick Pope.

Jean was a cleaner before she retired while Rocky worked in the building trade. In his spare time he was also a well-known body-builder and boxer in the area.

Rocky, who officially opened the Royal Dyche pub (named after Clarets manager Sean Dyche) in Yorkshire Street when it changed its name from the Princess Royal earlier this year, has raised £600 for the hospice in recent months.

He even cut off his own hair to raise money after Jean lost her hair because of chemotherapy treatment.

He said: “Every single penny we raise for charity goes to the hospice. If Jean was told she couldn’t go again she would be so upset.

“Going to the hospice keeps her chin up big style. And when I go to pick her up or drop her off they always make a fuss of me as well. They have even given me lunch. But that’s what happens at the hospice they look out for a patient’s family as well as the patient.”

When Rocky is away watching Burnley Jean is cared for by her daughter Nreey.

Jean and Rocky’s Noah’s Ark of animals at their home includes seven cats, three dogs, three small ponies, 10 hens, ducks and a grey parrot that talks.

Rocky laughed: “It can’t say ‘Up The Clarets’ yet but I am working on it!”