FORMER Darwen parks boss John Firth, who played an important part in adding colour and a rural greenery to his home town of Darwen over nearly 50 years, has died after a lengthy illness. He was 79.
Hewas prominent in the community as a Rotarian and a JP and he also busied himself with work for local organizations such as the Centenary Society, the Civic Society and the Gala and Bonfire committee.For several years he judged the Whitehall in Bloom competition and was an enthusiastic supporter of Darwen Days.
He was a smashing chap and was very good to us. Many of his photos of old Darwen are now on our site."
Mr. Firth started work as an apprentice gardener with Darwen Corporation in the mid-1950s when the parks department was thriving and self-sustaining.The whole townsparkled with thousands of brightly-coloured plants and shrubs, all grown in-house.
He latertrained at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh before returning to Darwen.He became assistant parks superintendent and cemetery registrar in 1967 and three years later he was put in charge of the department.
After the Darwen-Blackburn merger of 1974 John became principal assistant (parkland) and, in 1987, amenities manager, the job from which he retired in 2000.
He always had a keen awareness of the value of trees and worked closely with Darwen Civic Society and the Lloyd Charity Trust to develop the town's excellent cover as well as maintaining its many floral displays. He was also instrumental in launching the Sunnyhurst Wood visitor centre which has recently closed.
he said recently: "My job was never like working. I was extremely fortunate."
Jovial, tubby and chatty, he lived in an end-of-terrace house close to Bold Venture Park and one of his pleasures was tending his lovely garden.
Cheerio, John. And thanks.
Cremation is at Pleasington on Monday, February 27th, at 10.45am followed by a gathering at the Masonic Hall from noon.