Friends and family pay touching tributes to 'one of a kind' football man "Deano"

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a 'kind, funny and happy-go-lucky' family man and friend, who was a popular figure on the local football circuit.

Dennis with, from left to right, Antony, Amy, Laura, Ellie and Amber
Dennis with, from left to right, Antony, Amy, Laura, Ellie and Amber

Dennis Orr, known as "Deano" to many, was a well known character throughout Burnley, but sadly lost his battle with cancer at Dove Court Care Home on Thursday.

His daughter Laura, 31, who was by his side, described him as her 'hero' and her 'rock', adding that her father had left a footprint on the hearts of their family.

She said: "My Dad, my hero. The most caring, kind, funny, happy-go-lucky man I have ever known. I am blessed to be your daughter and you have made me the strong woman that I am today.

Dennis Orr (right) with close friend John Cheetham (centre)

"I look up to you, you kept me safe, I couldn't have got through the years without you by my side through the good and the bad.

"You have always been our rock, you're our whole world, the best grandad to all his grandchildren and a brilliant stepdad, partner, husband and friend to many.

"We will all cherish the memories and good times that you gave us, you have left a footprint on all our hearts, you will always be with us and your memory will always live on in all of us.

"Goodnight, God bless Dad. You're back in the arms of Mum always and forever. Until we meet again, I will hold your hand forever."

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Dennis was married to wife Trudy for 14 years

Dennis was born in Douglas in the Isle of Man in 1949, but moved to Burnley with his Mum, Edith, his grandma and his Uncle Joe at an early age.

He attended Todmorden Road Primary School and then, having moved into a flat in Brunshaw Road, graduated to Burnley Grammar School.

From there he would go on to gain employment at Bank Hall Colliery, where he worked as a train driver, and then operated a fork lift truck at Michelin.

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Dennis also worked for Tenneco-Walker UK Ltd, Compound Engineering Limited and E.T. Riddiough, where he stayed for nearly 30 years before retiring.

The keen cyclist, who would be seen out on his bike in all corners of the town, met his first partner, Jackie Disley, in his late 20s and fathered step-children Colin and Carol as though they were his own.

He then met Trudy in his mid-30s and, having raised step-children James, Diane and Antony at their family home in Hargrove Avenue, the couple had a child of their own, Laura, in 1988.

They married four years later at Burnley Registry Office and were very happily married for 14 years before his wife passed away in 2006.

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Dennis also leaves behind partner Maureen Greenwood, and her five daughters, Ann-Marie, Catherine, Claire, Kelly and Kneely, who he loved unconditionally.

His grandchildren also meant the world to him. Dennis adored each and every one of them: Ryan (25), Jessica (22), Hannah (18), Amy (17), Ellie (13), Aaron (13), Faith (nine) and Amber (eight).

"I have so many happy memories of my Dad," said Laura. "From family holidays in Benidorm to walking up the steps of Pendle Hill together.

"He told my daughter, Ellie, to think of him whenever she looks at Pendle Hill. I remember going swimming at Wavelengths with him growing up and having days out at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

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"We'd all go up to Towneley Fair together as well. There are so many fond memories of him looking after his grand-daughters, Ellie and Amber, when they'd sit in my garden together on a summer's day while he read his newspaper.

"They would play 'curby' together and he'd show them his headstands. He loved riding his bike, he'd go all over on it, and he used to sing to us all the time.

"He was so funny and he loved his family dearly."

There won't be many people in Burnley that didn't know or, at least, recognise Dennis. Whether that be from his time spent out on the football pitch, his time spent in the bookmakers or from his regular visits to the local pubs.

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The Miners, The Royal Dyche, The Brickmakers Arms, Irish League, Fulledge Conservative Club and the 110 Club were all popular haunts for the Burnley FC season ticket holder.

He loved a flutter on the horses, especially the Grand National, and would often set up a sweepstake for the major racing event at work.

In fact, he once blew the final whistle 20 minutes early in a game he was officiating at Towneley so he could get to the 'bookies' in time to place a bet for the feature race at Aintree.

Dennis was affiliated with the Burnley and District Sunday Football League for decades, first as a player and then as a referee.

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"This week we have lost a true sportsman and friend to many," said close friend John Cheetham.

"Dennis will always be remembered as a footballer and referee, but let's not forget what a good cricketer he was.

"He used to open the batting, turned his arm occasionally and was a great fielder. He won many leagues and cups in both sports.

"I played football and cricket with him for many years for Brunshaw Youth Club, Park View, Queens Park, Royal Butterfly and many more.

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"He played cricket for the all conquering Keighley Green and won everything there was to play for.

"He managed local football teams for a couple of seasons, then moved on to refereeing, and he was always the go to man for the hardest games.

"So many younger people then became a part of this chapter of his life. All the young lads referred to him by name.

"He was known for his one-liners when his decisions were challenged. RIP Dennis, a true local sporting legend, character and friend to many."

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John Pilling, the chairman of The Burnley and Miners Sunday Football League, also knew Dennis well from his time in football.

The pair were good friends for more than 50 years and played alongside and against each other in both the Sunday School League and the Bass North West five-a-side League.

Dennis, who would often stand out when wearing an odd top during games, also played in defence and midfield for Wellington, Brickmakers, Wood Top and Waterloo.

"The League has lost a huge character and a good friend," he said. "I have known Dennis for over 50 Years.

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"They don't make them like him anymore; he was unique. I have played with him and against him over many years.

"He then took up refereeing and he was in the middle for one of the last Towneley Cup finals to be played at Turf Moor.

"I have so many stories and memories of him that I could fill the Burnley Express with them. Everyone in local football who met Dennis will never forget what a character he was.

"RIP to a true gentleman. Our hearts and minds are with his family at this very sad and difficult time."