A final farewell to business pioneer Edward Topping
Crowds paid a heartfelt goodbye to local man Edward Topping as he was laid to rest this afternoon, September 28.
The 89-year-old. who founded Barton Grange garden centre, passed away in his sleep after a brief struggle with illness on September 6.
His coffin rested at the garden centre for a short while this afternoon, before the funeral cortege made its travels through Bilsborrow and Barton, pausing at Barton Manor Hotel en-route to a private family cremation.
Groups of people huddled together in the rain this afternoon and stood silent while they paid their respects at the garden centre, on Garstang Road.
And the hearse was pictured greeting family and friends at the Barton Manor Hotel for the private cremation.
Following this, a celebration ceremony of his life was held at St Lawrence’s Church in Barton but was also live-streamed online to give people at home the chance to pay their respects.
The Salvation Army brass band played music while close family and friends entered the church, greeted with a framed photo of Edward adorned with flowers.
At the service, one of his grandsons Andrew, said: "I won the lottery having Eddie as our grandad. I have so many fond memories of being spoilt rotten every time we saw you."
Family and friends stood up to read tributes to Edward throughout the service.
He was referred to as "an extraordinary man" and "garden centre pioneer" who was "warm, humorous and knew his business so well."
In 1963 he opened the region’s first garden centre on the grounds of Barton Grange Hotel and served as President of the Horticultural Trades Association and Chairman of the Garden Centre Association.
And in 2003 he was awarded the MBE for services to charity in Preston.
Earlier this year - after 65 years at the helm of one of Lancashire’s most successful family businesses - Edward Topping decided to retire and stepped down as chairman of The Barton Grange Group.