Tributes grow for Ribble Valley head gardener Bob

The late Bob Swarbrick.
The late Bob Swarbrick.

Tributes have been flooding in for former Downham Hall head gardener Bob Swarbrick.

And St Leonard’s Church at Downham was packed to capacity with people paying their respects at the recent funeral of the popular village resident.

Bob and his wife Kath have lived in Downham for more than 50 years and had become an integral part of the community.

Born on May 9th, 1935, and brought up in Blackpool, Bob discovered his love of horticulture by working on the family market garden.

In 1959 he was appointed under gardener at Downham Hall and the family moved to the village. After a short spell back in Blackpool, to help with the family business, Bob returned to Downham as head gardener and estate manager in 1972. His green fingers worked wonders and the garden open days were the highlight of his year.

A keen sportsman, Bob played football for Blackpool Boys and Chatburn. However, he will be best remembered as captain of Downham cricket team. Through his leadership the team built a great reputation for good cricket and good fun. He often filled the Assheton Arms regaling ball-by-ball accounts of the match. During this period, he took over 400 wickets and always topped the bowling averages.

Bob also loved playing golf and was a member of Clitheroe Golf Club for 30 years. All members affectionately knew him as "Downham Dan" for his great physical strength and larger-than-life personality. His golfing highlights included winning the Peter Geddes Memorial Trophy in 1992 and scoring a hole-in-one on the 17th. All the ground staff knew Bob as he was often first on the course at 6am every morning.

He will be especially remembered for his quick wit and comedy timing in many village hall concert performances. Bob also appeared in many episodes of the TV drama "Born and Bred" and became a firm favourite amongst the cast.

Following his retirement, he continued to enjoy his garden producing a tremendous display of flowers as well as fruit and vegetables annually until his 83rd birthday.

In 2016 Bob and Kath celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary and received a message from HM The Queen. Bob loved family life and enjoyed regular visits from his four children, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. He lived a full and happy life and will be sadly missed. Bob will be fondly remembered by anyone who met him.

Donations in Bob’s memory raised £860 for Ribble Valley Crossroads Care and the family would like to thank everyone for their kind support.