One of Burnley’s best-known butchers, Stephen Birkins, has died aged just 52 after a long battle with cancer.
Mr Berkins won countless awards throughout his life-long career as a butcher at the family shop in Rosegrove.
He always had time for customers and a lot of them, some who have moved away, have passed on their condolencesSister Mrs Wendy Prosser
The father-of-two, who was brought up in Simonstone, entered the family business after leaving Gawthorpe High School, but helped his father Kenneth from being a small boy.
The business was started by his grandparents Frank and Bertha Berkins.
Sister Mrs Wendy Prosser paid tribute to her “workaholic” brother who she said had time for everybody.
Mrs Prosser said: “Stephen will be sadly missed by so many people. He loved working as a butcher and won countless awards over the years for his sausages and pies.
“He was very proud to win the awards and always worked really hard. He always had time for customers and a lot of them, some who have moved away, have passed on their condolences.”
His devastated sister fought back tears as she described Stephen’s brave battle with cancer, which started when he was diagnosed with a melanoma in September, 2013.
She added: “Stephen was a real battler but in the end it became too much.
“The cancer had spread to his lungs and liver, and later to his brain. He was treated in Preston, Blackburn and the Christie Hospital where he was one of just a thousand people worldwide to be given a new drug.
“Stephen was allowed home for a time but he was so weak that he was confined to a wheelchair. it was heartbreaking to see him like that and eventually he went to Pendleside Hospice where the staff were fantastic with him.
“He really went through it, but we did our best to make him comfortable when he was back at his home in Worsthorne.”
Mr Berkins, who closed the shop last July, died on Monday in Pendleside Hospice.
The talented butcher once scooped five gold and silver prizes at the BPEX awards for his sausages, bacon and burgers.
Away from work, he enjoyed watching and taking part in stock car racing, and was a keen fan of Burnley Football Club.
He also helped raise money for charity with Padiham Round Table and Rotary Club.
He leaves father Kenneth, sister Wendy, children Georgina and Patrick, and partner Helen Hargreaves. His mother Margaret died some years ago.
His funeral will be held at Burnley Crematorium on Wednesday at noon followed by drinks at Burnley Football Club.
In a touching tribute, the funeral cortege will pass Stephen’s old shop in Rosegrove Lane on its way to the crematorium.