Tributes to 'true gentleman' and Burnley detective who has died at home

Touching tributes have been paid to a former detective and true gentleman from Burnley who has died at the age of 93.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 3:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 3:54 pm
John Reavley in his younger years

Retired Detective Chief Inspector John Reavley died at his home in Burnley on Friday April 30th, with his daughter Susan and her partner Simon at his side.

Mr Reavley joined Burnley Borough Police Force in 1949, transferred to Lancashire Police on amalgamation in 1969 and worked throughout East Lancashire until his retirement in July 1978.

Mr Reavley was born in Carville, County Durham in 1928. On leaving school, he completed his National Service with the Tank Regiment at Catterick, although he never actually saw a tank as his joinery skills were more in demand.

He met his wife Brenda at Butlin’s, Filey, in 1947 and they married in June 1949. Brenda died in January 2018 after an incredible 69 years of marriage. Mr Reavley leaves behind their daughter Susan and her partner Simon, both of whom cared for Mr Reavley at home in recent years.

Brenda was Burnley born, so the couple settled in Burnley and Mr Reavley joined Burnley Borough Police.

His daughter Sue said of him: "Dad was a true gentleman all his life. Everyone I meet who knew him emphasises this.

"A gentle giant, he got on well with every age group. He thrived on meeting and talking with people. It didn’t matter who it was, whether he knew them or not. He would come away from a chat knowing their life story.

"He was a support to others in his various careers and touched many peoples’ lives for the good. He got the best out of everyone. Dad had a gentle sense of humour, but some of his jokes made you groan, especially at the fourth time of hearing. He was a friend - a very good friend."

Mr Reavley initially served on foot patrol, then CID from 1956, before being promoted to uniform sergeant in 1962, at that time being the youngest sergeant ever to be promoted in the Burnley Borough force.

He only spent six months in uniform before becoming Burnley Borough Police’s first full time Detective Sergeant Crime Prevention Officer.

Mr Reavley was one of the first to actively promote measures which would deter criminal offences. He was also instrumental in a developing specialist department to work with young people, then known as the Juvenile Liaison Office.

Mr Reavley was promoted to Uniform Inspector in 1967, then to Detective Inspector and acting Detective Chief Inspector, before being promoted to Detective Chief Inspector in 1969 on amalgamation with Lancashire police, when he worked across Rossendale and Pendle. He was involved in a number of high profile murder cases in his career.

Throughout his service at all ranks he had a reputation for always being approachable and he was known to have a calm, fair temperament towards everyone he came into contact with. It is fair to say that he was popular with everyone, both colleagues and members of the public.

On retirement in 1978 he initially took up a post at a local solicitor’s office. He also became a part time youth club leader at Belmont Community Centre, Burnley. He continued to enjoy woodworking and also old time dancing, holidays and caravanning.

Living as a boy in the next street to a certain two boys called Jack and Bobby Charlton, Mr Reavley was always keen on football – on his move to Burnley he became a long standing Clarets fan, still attending matches until lockdown.

Retired Det. Chief Insp Garry Gluyas, ex colleague and friend, added: "John was a police officer with strong values, which he maintained as he was promoted through the ranks. He was a true gentleman who was well liked and respected in his professional and personal life."

Funeral details have not yet been confirmed but are likely to be week commencing Monday May 17th. The funeral directors are Holgate Funeral Service, The Old Schoolmaster's House St Anne's Church, Fence.