Town gathers to say a final farewell to former Burnley MP who was a voice for the people for over two decades
That is how Peter Pike, who served Burnley as MP for over two decades, was remembered today at his funeral.
Leading the service and the tributes to Mr Pike, who died last month at the age of 84, the Bishop of Burnley the Rt Rev Philip North described him as man who was passionate about equality, community cohesion and social justice.
"He was a man who recognised that everyone is equal and should be treated as such," said Rev North.
"In Burnley he worked tirelessly to bring together people from the white and Asian communities together."
The bishop added that while the country was facing a time of political unrest surrounding allegations about the Prime Minister Boris Johnson it was easy for people to say that politicians were all 'in it for themselves' adding:
"The man we are laying to rest today is the antithesis of that. He used his skills and gifts to help others throughout his life and not just as an MP."
The moving service was attended by family, friends, the Mayor and Mayoress of Burnley Coun. Mark Townsend and his wife Kerry, former politicians and representatives of the organisations and charities Mr Pike was involved with, including Building Bridges and Emmaus, Mr Pike's funeral cortege passed Turf Moor.
A devoted Clarets fan, mourners lined the route to pay their respects and Mr Pike's Clarets scarf was draped over the coffin.
Tributes were paid to Mr Pike by both of his two daughters, Carol and Jane, who spoke with affection about him as a loving father and husband to his late wife Sheila.
Jane said: "We grew up in a home full of love and we were taught to embrace people from all cultures.
"My dad stood for his principles of social justice and fairness and his Christian faith was very important to him."
Jane also spoke about her dad's dry humour and great sense of fun including an occasion when she was appearing in a play with Burnley Youth Theatre and her dad shouted from the audience 'that's mine' when he spotted a book Jane holding a book she had borrowed from home to use as a prop.
Among the hymns sang during the service was Love Divine, which has special meaning for the family as it was played at the wedding of the Pikes and also at Sheila's funeral when she died in 2017.
During the service the Leader of Burnley Council Coun. Afrasiab Anwar gave a reading from the writings, sermons and speeches of f Archbishop Desmond Tutu and he praised Mr Pike as a 'proper MP.'
He said: "I don't mean any disrespect to any of Mr Pike's successors but that is exactly what he was.
"Growing up in Burnley I knew who Peter Pike was before I even knew what it meant to be an MP.
"He was a fantastic ambassador for the town and when he got involved in a project he saw it through right to the end and always kept in touch and he was still actively involved with all the projects he took an interest in up until his death."
Personal tributes were paid to Mr Pike, who served the town as MP for 22 years, from 1983 to 2005, by fellow politicians Sir Simon Hughes and Alistair Burt. Although they did not share the same political persuasion the trio became friends through their work to end apartheid in South Africa.
They made several visits to South Africa and met with all sides, treating them with respect and dignity to bring about the end of apartheid.
Sir Simon said: "Peter fought tirelessly and actively against apartheid, it was something that bound the three of us together and resulted in a lifelong friendship."
Jokingly describing themselves as 'The Unlikely Lads' Sir Simon said that, despite Mr Pike's ill health, the trio had even talked about a last trip to South Africa.
Burnley born opera singer Kathleen Wilkinson sang The Lord's My Shepherd and Pie Jesu at the service which was followed by cremation at Burnley.
In honour of the national service he completed with them, the Royal Marines flag was flown at Burnley Crematorium. The committal held there was led by the Rev Paul Payton who is the curate of St Peter and St Stephen's churches in Burnley.