Tributes for Battle of Britain hero and RAF veteran Roy

RAF and Battle of Britain veteran Roy Hardacre with his partner Barbara Wright-Hurst
RAF and Battle of Britain veteran Roy Hardacre with his partner Barbara Wright-Hurst
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A man who served in the Battle of Britain in the RAF during World War Two has died at the age of 97.

And Roy Hardacre was believed to be the last surviving member of Squadron 51 which he served with for seven years after signing up at the age of 18.

Roy was hailed as a local hero after serving in Africa, Ireland and Egypt and remained proud to be a military man for the rest of his life, representing the RAF at many events.

He was invited to attend the Royal Garden party in 2016 to represent his squadron and was also given the Freedom of Nelson in 2013 in honour of his distinguished career.

And in 2017 Roy, who lived in Fence, was asked to lead the parade for the Remembrance Day parade in Burnley.

A founder member of the Brierfield and Reedley Rotary Club Roy also became the youngest member of Brierfield Urban District Council. He kept himself fit and active and had been a keen badminton player and golfer.

An accomplished saxophonist, one of Roy's main interests was ballroom dancing and he loved going on coach holidays to St Anne's where he could indulge his passion.

And it was during a holiday to St Anne's that he met former professional dancer, Barbara Wright-Hurst, who he described as the "love of his life."

Roy was staying at the Monterey Beach Hotel, which was owned by a friend of Barbara's, who introduced the couple during one of the regular dance nights nine years ago.

Barbara said: "He was so smart, handsome and immaculate and he really was a beautiful dancer.

"We just seemed to click and we both feel in love with each other at the same time, it was truly wonderful, a real fairytale for both of us.

"Roy was a truly special man and the more time you spent with him the more you wanted to be with him."

The couple enjoyed several holidays to Bulgaria and Malta, one of Roy's favourite destinations, and although they never got married officially they held their own church dedication ceremony where they exchanged rings and vows.

Barbara added: "Roy used to say that he had loved me all his life and in his heart we had always been married."

A representative for farm hygiene equipment, Roy had been widowed twice and also suffered the tragedy of losing both his children but his positive outlook on life was an inspiration for others.

Barbara said: "His philosophy was you couldn't change what had happened in the past.

"Age meant nothing to him and he was interested in people and always saw the good in them.

"He was adored and respected by people wherever we went and he loved doing new things.

"He really did live a wonderful life."

A generous man, Roy celebrated his 95th birthday by donating £250 to Pendleside Hospice and £150 to the Richard Peck House in St Anne’s which offers respite care breaks for former RAF servicemen and their families.

Barbara moved over to Pendle last year to be closer to Roy after he suffered a heart attack. But he insisted on moving into the Hulton Care Home in Nelson when his condition deteriorated.

Barbara said: "The staff were exemplary and I spent every day with Roy and was with him when he died."

Roy's funeral was held at the Nelson Independent Methodist Church where the couple were both members

Among those paying their respects were the entire staff from the Carousel Hotel in St Anne's where Roy had become a regular guest over the years.

Roy planned the service to the last detail, including a moving tribute he penned himself for Barbara and all family and friends who had been part of his life.