Hundreds line streets of Padiham to say final farewell to a champion of the town
Padiham came to a standstill last Friday as hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to a son of the town.
Applause rang through the town centre as the funeral cortege of well known businessman and champion of the town, Bob Clark, paused outside the town hall.
And, as a moving gesture of respect, Padiham firefighters also lined the route and had an engine with blue lights flashing.
More people stood to pay their respects as the cortege made its way through the town to St Leonard's Church for the funeral service which was conducted by the Rev Kit Walker.
Well known local singer Grace O'Malley sang Abide With Me and Renia Memmory sang On Eagles Wings.
Renia is the head of music at Our Lady and St John's Catholic College in Blackburn. Bob's wife, Ann, used to teach there and Renia is a former pupil of hers.
Bob's granddaughter, Sophie, paid tribute to her grandfather at the service describing him as 'one in a million' who would always be missed. Sophie said her granddad's generosity and kindness had touched so many people's lives and it would be almost impossible for anyone to fulfil his role.
After the service Bob's coffin was carried to Burnley Crematorium on the original wagon he used for his business, R M Clark Dismantlers. Bob's son, Julian came up with the idea and managed to find the vehicle in Nelson, still with the same owner that Bob sold it to several years ago.
The new owner agreed to loan the wagon and he also drove it after it was temporarily decorated with the name of Bob's business.
Ann said: "What a wonderful send off for Bob. To see all those people who had turned out to pay their respects to him was just marvellous and so overwhelming for us."
Bob died earlier this month at the age of 79 , just a week after he became the first person ever to receive the Freedom of the Town award by Padiham Town Council to recognise his years of hard work and dedication to the town he loved so much.
The award was given to Bob, who was known to many as 'Mr Padiham' at Memorial Park in a special event to unveil an engraved stone in honour of the park's 100th birthday and also to remember those who gave their lives in WWI. It was Bob's idea to erect the stone and he also funded the project.
Born in Mitton Street, Bob attended the former St Matthew's Primary School and also St Leonard's School where he excelled academically and also at sport, particularly football. He was also musically talented and played the trumpet in the Padiham Scout Band.
At the age of 18, Bob took up weightlifting, and the sport known as 'physical culture,' which was a precursor to body building. He was part of the Strength Set Team at the Zelus Barbell Studio in Sowerby Street and won 23 titles, including Lancashire Bantamweight Weight Lifting Champion.
He also held a record that was unbroken for 17 years.
Bob was destined for success at just 19 when he qualified for the 1960 Rome Olympics after he was crowned British Bantamweight Weight Lifting Champion but, sadly, never made it as he didn't come from a wealthy family.
Bob followed in his father Denis' footsteps to work in the mines after leaving school at the age of 14. He started at Calder Pit, Altham, before going on to work at several other pits for the next 26 years, including Huncoat and Hapton Valley, where he ended his career.
Bob went on to become a trustee of the Hapton Valley Mining Disaster group and was responsible for organising an annual remembrance ceremony to remember the 19 miners killed by a coal explosion at Hapton Valley Colliery in 1962. Covid-19 meant that the service could not be held this year but instead Bob laid a wreath at the memorial stone in Burnley Cemetery on Sunday, March 21st.
After his mining career Bob ran a successful scrap metal and dismantling business which he continued to run right up to a few months before his death.
Community spirited and always keen to improve and develop Padiham, Bob was a founder member of the town council when it was formed in 2002 and he served two terms as Mayor of Padiham, from 2003 to 2004 and 2011 to 2012, raising thousands of pounds for charitable groups and organisations in the town.
Keen to support and promote sport he was commercial manager for Padiham Football Club and Chairman of Padiham Sports Club which combined the football and cricket clubs.
In 2004 Bob and his wife Ann were responsible for launching the Padiham Archives museum which is housed in the town hall, open to the public and providing an educational resource for the town's schoolchildren. The archives contain thousands of photographs and memorabilia, donated by the public, that chart the history and heritage of Padiham.
The couple first met as teenagers when Bob caught Ann's eye during his weightlifting. They were apart while Ann went to teacher training college in Liverpool and, on returning to her hometown, she married Bob.
They would have celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary in August.
Bob, who was a great grandfather of two, enjoyed socialising at several local pubs where he placed collection box for causes in Padiham and he would raise around £1,000 annually.
Bob also leaves his sons, Adrian and Julian, daughter-in-law Anne, granddaughters Sophie and Hannah and a sister Linda.
Donations are being accepted in Bob's memory to Padiham Football Club.