Tributes to Briercliffe community champion

Many people in Briercliffe were very saddened to hear of the sudden death of Malcolm Higgin, a man who has long since been involved in the matters of the parish, both ecclesiastical and civil.

Malcolm Higgin
Malcolm Higgin

Malcolm was born in June, 1941, the eldest son and first child of John and Emily Higgin, a family which has worshipped at St James since it was built, in 1841. He commenced his Christian education at Sunday School, at Haggate Baptist Church, which, because of its musical traditions, had a great influence on his later life.

In 1945, Malcolm was joined by his younger brother, Glynn. They were life-long friends and Malcolm said that his proudest moment was to act as Glynn’s best man at his wedding to Angela.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Education was at Haggate School. Malcolm enjoyed his time there and he secured a place at Nelson Grammar School, where he was fortunate to go on a school trip to Paris. This, together with foreign trips organised by the church, gave him an interest in travel. He was widely travelled in Europe and North America.

With the school-leaving age approaching, Malcolm had to decide to try for a place at a veterinary college or apply for a job. Think of others first, he chose the latter, because of the “cotton slump” of the 1950’s. He successfully applied for a job with Post Office Telephones, to train as an engineer.

Malcolm remained, at what later became BT., for over thirty years, where he enjoyed the work and made many friends. It was whilst working there that he met the naturalist, Horace Cook, and the friendship that developed led to Malcolm’s interest in wild life and the environment being revived. A number of holidays were spent as a voluntary warden at RSPB reserves.

Like other members of his family, Malcolm had a great interest in Briercliffe. Retiring early, he had more time for St James’. He became a Sidesman, the Gift Aid Secretary and he founded the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme. His interest in local nature led to Malcolm regularly visiting a number of local sites such as Lea Green reservoir and Thursden, where he carried out work on behalf of the RSPB and British Ornithology.

Though not overtly political, Malcolm enjoyed a period of time as a member, representing Briercliffe, of the former, of Burnley Rural District Council, which had its offices in Reedley. He served almost up to the time when the BRDC was absorbed into Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley Councils.

In more recent years Malcolm played at active part in the Briercliffe Society, acting as chairman on several occasions. He enjoyed the Local History Group which was held at the present Haggate Baptist Church. Malcolm was asked if he would become a Trustee of the Col Slater Homes, an appointment to which he readily agreed.

All that said, Malcolm was always in a position to help other people when they needed it. He had a long list of people who he visited and helped. Sometimes, they were family friends, but often he helped in a quiet way, not mentioning the thousands of kindnesses for which he was responsible.

A full church, at his funeral, indicates a life that was well spent and appreciated by those who knew him. Yes, Malcolm will be missed by more than he ever knew.