Daughter's loving tribute for popular and well known businessman

Lara Oddie described her dad Bill, who has died at the age of 76, as an "old fashioned gentleman and a wonderful father."
Lara Oddie described her dad Bill, who has died at the age of 76, as an "old fashioned gentleman and a wonderful father."
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The daughter of a well known and popular businessman, who has died at the age of 76, has paid tribute to him as "an old fashioned gentleman and wonderful father."

Mr Bill Oddie was at the helm of Oddie’s, the family run bakery, for 30 years and he had worked for the company for half a century.

Prince Charles won Bill Oddie over with his charm when he visited the company to celebrate its 100th year in 2005.

Prince Charles won Bill Oddie over with his charm when he visited the company to celebrate its 100th year in 2005.

Paying tribute to her father, Lara Oddie said: “Dad was renowned for his generosity and always placed a very high value on friendship.

“His three main priorities in life were his friends and family, business and sport. He was always keen to help local charities and had a very kind heart.

“Somebody described dad as having a crackerjack sense of humour and that was him to a tee.

“He always said that he was in business for fun as well as profit.”

Founded by Bill’s grandfather, William Henry Oddie, the first shop was opened in Colne in 1905. Bill’s father John Dean Oddie, then helped steer the business through the 20th century, with Bill taking charge in 1988 following his father’s death.

Lara added: “He just loved life – he played hard and worked hard. When I was a child he was at work for 4am and he did that for many years.

“He could turn his hand to anything, from icing wedding cakes to making bread. I particularly remember the festive season when dad would tell me that he had to go in extra early in the morning, at 3am, to ice the Christmas Cakes.”

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson paid tribute to Bill saying he had enjoyed discussing a range of business issues with him and his passion for the local area "always shone through."

Mr Stephenson said: "“Bill did so much to keep Oddie’s going through tough times, ensuring its long-term future.

"He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and I would like to offer my condolences to his family and also all the staff at Oddie's."

Burnley-born, Bill attended Sunnyside Primary School and Giggleswick Boarding School. And it was at the North Yorkshire college where he developed a great passion for

sport.

A talented gymnast and squash player, Bill’s first love was cricket. He later turned out for Blackburn Rugby Club, batted for Nelson Cricket Club in the Lancashire League and was a former player, chairman and president with Belvedere and Calder Vale Sports Club.

Current chairman Mr John Sinclair paid tribute to Bill saying: “He was a gentle advisor and mentor and a first class rugby player.

“But he was also a man of great sensitivity with a cracker jack sense of humour.”

Derek Metcalfe, Nelson Cricket Club historian Derek Metcalfe said that Bill was remembered fondly saying: "“He was a fine amateur batsman and was part of the Nelson team that won the

Lancashire League title for the 17 th time in 1969.

“His best season was the year before that when he scored his biggest league innings – 76. I was the club secretary when Bill joined Nelson and he was always very popular in the dressing room.

“When I retired I promised my wife that we’d have a big trip to Australia to watch England in the Ashes.

“So off we went to Adelaide and the first person I saw at the Adelaide Oval was Bill and we had our pictures taken at the ground.

“He was such a very nice man and always had a funny story to tell.”

During his playing days with Nelson Bill batted against the famous Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee, who was playing for Haslingden. And it was a great source of pride to Bill that he got 48 before he was run out.

A life member of Lancashire County Cricket Club, he travelled the globe watching cricket with Leslie his wife of 52 years.

Lara added: “He just loved the involvement, meeting people, and he was a fully-paid up member of England’s Barmy Army Cricket Supporters Club.

“He attended several Ashes series in Australia and went to South Africa too. Dad even had a Barmy Army blazer – he was very proud of that.”

Bill was also a committed Rotarian, with Nelson, Brierfield and Reedley Rotary Club. He was given the Paul Harris Fellow, one of the highest awards a Rotarian can achieve for their work in the community.

Another source of pride for Bill was his workforce and he knew each full time member of staff by name at the company’s 16 shops across the county.

And he credited his staff for helping the business to recover from the recession which Bill described at the time as like "turning a tap off after the crash."

Bill was also grateful to the generations of families who continued to support his business down the years and his motto was "Keep it local, keep it Oddie's and savour the difference."

He was also full of pride when Prince Charles visited the bakery in 2005 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Bill had always a been a big fan of the late Princess Diana but he admitted that the heir to the throne charmed them all and Bill was proud to show him what Oddie's had achieved in a century.

When Bill started work everything was done by hand and staff worked on long wooden tables with giant sheets of pasty that were sliced into shapes with big cutters.

The biggest change in the company was the modernisation of equipment which allowed the bakery to make four to five thousand pies in an hour.

Bill prided himself on making certain famous Oddie products by hand and many of his recipes remained top secret.

Billl's nephew is Joff Oddie who is bass player for top headlining band Wolf Alice. In a recent interview with a rock magazine Joff was full of praise for his uncle saying: " In my mind he is THE Bill Oddie"

And Bill thought it was amazing to have a rock star in the family.