Shock death of former Burnley cinema manager and devoted family man Andrew

Former Burnley cinema manager Andrew Smith has died at the age of 59.
Former Burnley cinema manager Andrew Smith has died at the age of 59.
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A former Burnley cinema manager, who was a well known face in his hometown, has died suddenly at the age of 59.

Andrew Smith became known to many people in the town during his time as manager at the former Apollo Cinema in Burnley.

He had a real passion for his work and was a genuine 'people person' who regarded his colleagues as family.

When his career ended in redundancy in 2012, when the Apollo was taken over by Vue and then Reel Cinemas, Andrew was more concerned for his staff than himself, according to his daughter Claire who said: "That was typical of my dad.

"He was more than their manager, he was their genuine friend and he still had that friendship 20 years later with many coming to him for a reference after all that time."

Andrew was known for his very dry sense of humour, ready smile and ability to get on with anyone.

Claire said: "He was always happy and bubbly no matter what the day held and he always did his best to cheer others up and he loved playing practical jokes on people."

A former pupil of Myrtle Bank nursery and Hargher Clough primary school, Andrew also attended the former Ivy Bank High School in Burnley.

He joined the Army Cadets, which he loved, achieving several marksman medals and at the age of 14 he took up a newspaper round for the local shop in Rosegrove.

Andrew would go out in all weathers, seven days a week for his deliveries, never missing a day which led him to get good Christmas tips which helped him save towards his first motorbike.

His long and successful cinema career began at the age of 16 when he got his first job as a projectionist. He took time out to work at Dawes Textile Mill in Nelson but soon returned to the job he loved, working as a projectionist at the former Rosegrove Cinema.

It was here that Andrew met his future wife, Ruth who worked there as an usherette.

Claire said: " Dad used to get her to stand in the auditorium longer than normal selling ice cream and popcorn so he could look at her through the projection window whilst playing the Laurel and Hardy theme tune when she walked down the aisle."

The couple fell in love, got married and became devoted to each other and their family including their two sons, Gary and Craig.

Andrew went on to become chief projectionist at the Apollo in Bury and held management positions at Brierfield, Burnley and Blackburn. He was even offered the area manager's position at Torquay in Devon.

After his redundancy Andrew worked with Gary at a pharmaceutical company before he and Ruth took the plunge and bought their own business, a newsagents in Rosegrove.

He became a popular figure in the closeknit community and would spend hours chatting and joking with customers who became firm friends.

After a few years the couple sold the shop and Andrew, who enjoyed doing DIY, went to work for the NHS as a transport driver based at Blackburn Hospital working between St Peter's Centre, Burnley General Hospital and also Manchester and Preston.

A keen Clarets fan, Andrew was a season ticket holder and also supported Norwich, his dad's hometown. He also loved spending time with his two dogs, Toby and Milo and his family, including his eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Just two months ago the couple decided to move from Burnley to a static caravan park in Pilling near Preston.

They immediately settled into their new home but Andrew was concerned that there was no defibrillator on the site and the nearest one was in the village which was a 10 minute journey away. Andrew realised that in an emergency no-one would want to make that journey and precious minutes to possibly save a life would be lost.

So he approached the site manager to ask if he could arrange a fund raising event in the summer to buy a defib for on site.

Claire said: "The manager agreed as he was so touched and impressed with dad's compassion and within two days of them having that conversation my dad had all the information ready."

But Andrew fell ill with a couple of ear infections before developing tonsillitis. He was taken into hospital where he developed sepsis and died.

Now, in honour of Andrew's memory, his family hope to fulfil his wishes and have set up a fund raising page in his honour that is already just £200 from its £2,000 target.

Claire said: "We would like to make this happen as my dad never got the chance to do it.

"We would like to thank everyone who has made a donation and also say how grateful we are to people for all their support and their memories of my dad, we have been overwhelmed.

"But my dad really was a happy, popular and all round amazing man. We never realised how many people's lives he had touched.

" He was everything to us and we could not be prouder of him if we tried."

Andrew's funeral was held this week at Burnley Crematorium. If anyone would like to make a donation to the defibrillator fund in his memory please go to https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andrewsmithdefib?utm_term=Jv2dEMK4g