Tributes to Samlesbury man who made a difference

MISSED: Professor Graham Ashworth celebrating his 80th birthday earlier this year

MISSED: Professor Graham Ashworth celebrating his 80th birthday earlier this year

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Tributes have been paid to a visionary architect and planner who was behind some of the country’s best known environmental schemes, and who even got Margaret Thatcher to litter pick in Hyde Park.

Professor Graham Ashworth of Samlesbury died suddenly at home on September 18 aged 80.

People enjoyed having him around. He loved jokes and he was so fun.

Raised in Plymouth and Bristol during World War Two, he put his interest in buildings and urban development down to seeing war-time destruction and redevelopment.

He moved north to study at Liverpool University and such was his love for the North West, he refused to move away despite work commitments across the county and internationally. High profile projects included the redevelopment of Liverpool’s Albert Docks and Operation Spring Clean - a two-year programme that saw 65,000 people clean up their area. He also worked in America, advising the President’s Beautification Committee on urban sprawl.

He was made President of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 1973 and in the same year became Professor of Urban Environmental Studies at the University of Salford.

Away from work, he was a keen cricket fan and assistant Baptist minister at Carey Baptist Church, serving as President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain in 2000.

Through the church, after the Sri Lankan tsunami in 2004, he got hands-on helping to rebuild houses.

His family remember him as “always cheerful”. Daughter Kate said: “People enjoyed having him around. He loved jokes and he was so fun.”

In 1987 he became Director General of the Tidy Britain Group, and until his retirement in 2000, led the group in developing schemes such as blue flags for clean beaches, eco schools and Britain in Bloom, often securing funding from industry.

He was awarded a CBE in 1980 and was made Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire in 1991.

Kate added: “He wasn’t just dabbling, he was leading the field in so many different ways. But he was such a gracious man. He didn’t boast about anything. People didn’t know who he knew, who he had influenced and who he could pick up the phone to.”

A key member of many organisations, he had recently been re-elected as chairman of Samlesbury and Cuerdale Parish Council and had a keen interest in the development of the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone.

Kate said: “He was always looking forward and still making a difference to his last day.”

He leaves wife Gwyneth, daughters Clare, Alyson and Kate, grandchildren Angharad, Holly, Morgan, Daniel and Charlotte, and son-in-laws Gwyn and Richard.