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Lasting Tribute for Michael GREGSON

Rawtenstall, Published: Online. Notable areas: Exeter, Crosby, Bury, Oswaldtwistle

Fred Hamer Funeral Service
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MichaelGREGSONA tribute to Michael Gregson, who died peacefully at the age of 75 at Ashlands Nursing Home on 15 November 2020. Michael was born on 12 July 1945 to Ronald and Elsie Gregson in Crosby, Merseyside joining older sister Margaret who had been born a couple of years before. Ronald, who was a policeman, had been stationed in Crosby at the end of the Second World War, but the family soon moved to Oswaldtwistle where they were joined by the twins Janet and John in 1949. Another move to Bury soon followed where the family settled, and the children spent the majority of their childhoods, living in a police house on Brandlesholme Road where Michael spent many happy days roaming the fields with his friends. As a child he attended school in Bury, firstly at All Saints Primary School followed by Derby High School, and it was during that time that he developed his love of both football and music, even playing trombone in the Besses O’ Th’ Barn band, alongside his brother John. The piano and the guitar would follow later. On finishing school, Michael went to St Luke’s teacher training college in Exeter, where he specialised in geography and geology, and played football for the college team. After completing his training in 1966, he decided to spend a year in Africa and was one of the first volunteers to be sent to Malawi. He taught geography at a Christian Brothers College and ended up staying for 18 months. During his time there he spent his free time travelling, and often hitchhiking, around Africa and even visited the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. He returned to Bury at the end of 1967, and while working as a Christmas postman re-encountered Sandra Tod. Their relationship grew from there and they married at St Joseph’s Church in Bury on 26 July 1969, by which time they had both established careers as teachers. They lived in a house on Fourth Avenue and in his spare time, Michael played football for Radcliffe St Mary’s. In 1974, Michael and Sandra moved to the Rossendale Valley, to a house on Newchurch Road. Daughter Elizabeth was born in 1976 followed byson James in 1980. In 1977, Michael started a new job as Deputy Head at Longshaw Junior School where he remained for 31 years. His loyalty to the school, in a highly deprived area of Blackburn, speaks to a dedication and work ethic that was characteristic of many areas of his life. He cared deeply for all of the pupils he taught across that period and celebrated their individual successes whether academic, athletic, musical or in overcoming personal obstacles. Whilst at Longshaw, he channelled various interests into extracurricular activities including starting a brass band that continued for many years, and even featured on Thames TV at one point. His passion and enthusiasm for music ensured that as many pupils as possible were given the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument or sing in the choir. Michael also started a gardening club, ran the football team, became the school’s first IT expert and led many school expeditions to the Lake District. His dedication to his work culminated in an invitation to a Buckingham Palace tea party in recognition of his services to children and young people in the Blackburn area. Outside of work, Michael enjoyed many pastimes including quizzing, cooking and gardening - but his three main passions were football, music and travelling. The family were fortunate to be able to take many holidays together, to his favourite destination Portugal and also Jersey, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. A favourite summer holiday was taking the ferry to Santander in northern Spain and driving down to Portugal to visit Napoleonic battle sites and Roman ruins. Later in life, Michael and Sandra were able to enjoy some incredible trips even further afield to Australia, South America, India, Singapore, Mauritius, Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Russia, where they spent time on the Trans-Siberian railway going from Moscow to Vladivostok. Walking and cycling holidays were also popular with visits to a number of locations such as the Azores, St. Lucia, Gozo, Switzerland and Majorca. In terms of his football, after his time with Radcliffe St Mary’s, Michael joined Rossendale Amateurs in 1984, beginning a long love affair with the football club that spanned for more than two decades. Over that time, he held a number of roles including captaining and managing a number of the teams and serving as Club Secretary and Club Manager on the committee. After retiring from football Michael rekindled his passion for singing and joined the Affetside mixed choir in 1999, joining his old school friend, Stephen and his wife Carol, who are also here with us today. He went on to join the Rossendale Male Voice Choir in 2003 and was proud to sing with them in many concerts, including at the Bridgewater Hall, and on tours to Germany, Belgium and Ireland. He was even invited to join the esteemed breakaway group, T’Cloggers, which he enjoyed immensely. In 1993, while refereeing a football match, Michael suffered a brain haemorrhage which he was very lucky to survive. He spent many weeks in North Manchester General Hospital, and the road to recovery was long and at times difficult - but with strength and determination he eventually managed to return to full time teaching for another 14 years until his retirement in 2008. Unfortunately, that retirement was curtailed in 2012 with a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia and, as a result, at the end of 2014 he moved into Ashlands Nursing Home. He was cared for there by many dedicated members of staff and it was a comfort that they were all there for him alongside his family in his final days. He will be greatly missed. The family have been overwhelmed by the various messages of sympathy and support over the last couple of weeks with a number of consistent themes and words that people have used to describe Michael’s character: a gentleman, a loyal friend, a hard-working, happy, courageous, enthusiastic man, with a great sense of humour and never afraid to laugh at himself. His connections to Rossendale Amateurs Football Club and the Rossendale Male Voice Choir are just two examples of how he’d throw himself into new things with great gusto, commitment and end up making such a difference. Michael leaves wife Sandra, children Elizabeth and James, grandchildren Edith, Sebastian and Alexander, son-in-law Kevin and daughter-in-law Emma, sisters Margaret and Janet and brother John. The funeral was held on Monday, November 30 at St. James The Less RC Church, Rawtenstall, followed by cremation at East Lancashire Crematorium. The Funeral Director was Dawn Winfield for Fred Hamer Funeral Services, and the service was led by Canon David Lupton. All donations gratefully received by the Alzheimer’s Society which can be made online by visiting https://michealgregson. muchloved.com.
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701 visitors. Published: 27/01/2021
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