Tributes have been paid to a “kind and helpful” community champion known for his passion for beekeeping.
Joe Birkby, 77, from Goosnargh, near Preston, was well known for his role as chairman of the Preston Bee Keepers Association.
Education secretary of the group, Viki Cuthbertson, said: “He was a very kind and very helpful gentleman. He has been a practical and hands on person as well as being the chairman. He will be sorely missed.”
Joe had been a bee keeper for many years. He was formerly the head of agriculture and farm director at Myerscough College and was a churchwarden at St Mary the Virgin, Goosnargh, and chairman of the Friends of Goosnargh green.
Fellside Team Rector, the Rev Jeff Finch, said the clergy and parishioners of St Mary the Virgin, had been saddened to hear of Joe’s sudden death last Thursday. He said: “Joe was an extremely popular and well loved local figure who contributed so much to church and community.”
Joe was nearing the end of his second four-year term as a St Mary’s churchwarden and in recent years had also been lay chairman of the Garstang Deanery synod .
Mr Finch said Joe’s commitment to both St Mary’s and the Fellside team had been “truly outstanding” and everyone would miss his contribution to the life of the church.
Every year at the May Bank Holiday he said Joe and his wife Sheila would lead two walks to “beat the parish bounds” and this Monday proved no exception, his family proud to continue a fine tradition in his memory.
Mr Finch added: “Our hearts reach out in sympathy to Sheila and family as we mourn with them the loss of a faithful and true friend.”