Tributes paid at funeral of international cyclist Peter Ward
For once, international cyclist Peter Ward arrived at the finish line behind the peloton, not at the head of it.
A police outrider was at the head of the funeral cortege as it made its way up Church Street for a service of thanks for what Canon Timothy Lipscomb called “an exemplary life”.
Civic dignitaries, magistrates, trade union officials and even more cyclists packed the church to pay their final respects to a man who, everyone agreed, had made such a difference during his 83 years as a proud Prestonian.
“Pete would have been so delighted to see the guard of honour from the Ribble Valley Cycling Club,” said Fr Timothy.
“It was a very impressive sight to see so many men and women turn out to honour a great man.”
Two-by-two the riders led the funeral parade and then lined up either side of the steps as the wicker coffin was carried in to the sound of birdsong filling the church.
Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston Council, which Peter served for more than 30 years, delivered a tribute to a man he described as “a true visionary”.
“He was something that many of us are not – a creator. An achiever who achieved things because nothing but nothing, no-one but no-one, would put him off.
“He was a son of Preston, someone who is deserving of great honour. He was a cyclist throughout his life, a politician in his middle age, a trade unionist through his working life and a magistrate for many years.
“We all have ideas, but many of us give up because there are too many obstacles in the way. Pete was one of those who would never give up.”
Speaking about the Guild Wheel, which Peter created with the late Mike Atkins to mark the 2012 Preston Guild, Coun Rankin said: “Pete was a giant in cycling terms. He refused to be put off by the nay-sayers and the many people who said it would never happen.
“He had he focus, the vision and the determination to make it happen. And as a result of this fantastic work he was awarded the MBE and made a Guild Burgess in 2012, one of only 20 created. Pete’s legacy is much broader than just the Guild Wheel.
“His achievements have meant that all new housing developments and new roads in the city have cycling facilities designed in.
“As a son of Preston we all mourn him and his passing.
“His like will never be seen again.”
Ian Hodges, in a eulogy on behalf of Ribble Valley Cycling and Racing Club, said: “Pete always had a vision for improving everything cycling.
“He always had time for everyone. He was a true gentleman, a great organiser and also a good delegator. But he just wanted the best for everyone, not himself, but everyone.
“It’s up to us to keep Pete’s memory alive . Every club needs a Pete Ward, every organisation needs a Pete Ward, and we needed a Pete Ward.
“Rest in peace, hero.”
Fr Timothy concluded the service by saying his widow Nora’s epitaph for Peter would be: “Please God look after Pete. I know he will be a nuisance, but he will be very useful.”