Tributes to former South Ribble mayor

Former mayor George Woods at the unveiling of the plaque in his honour at Bamber Bridge
Former mayor George Woods at the unveiling of the plaque in his honour at Bamber Bridge
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Former South Ribble mayor George Woods, a Second World War RAF veteran who was renowned as a devoted community champion, has died aged 96.

Described as ‘resolute’ by his proud family, he was an avid charity supporter, hard-working school governor and long-serving magistrate.

His tireless efforts were recognised in 2000 when he was awarded an MBE by the Queen for his services to the community and dedicated charity work.

Mr Woods was born in Leyland, but moved to Bamber Bridge when he was only a day old.

A well-known figure in the town, he was joined by his son, Michael Woods, and daughter-in-law, Julie, when he was honoured with a plaque on the Bamber Bridge ‘wall of fame’ last year.

Paying tribute to his father, who died on Tuesday, Michael said: “Dad was born five weeks premature and spent the first days of his life in a drawer.

“It is incredible to think that he went on to live such a full and long life.

“People would always ask how he had time to devote to so many different causes – he served in the Freemasons for more than 50 years, was a governor at three different schools, a councillor, county councillor, fundraiser for charities and an active supporter of the Methodist Church – and incredibly that is to name but just a few.”

During the Second World War, the great-grandfather served in the RAF’s 76 Squadron and he remained a proud supporter until his death.

Former firefighter Michael added: “The motto of the squadron is ‘resolute’ and that describes my father to a tee.

“During the war he served as a Flight Engineer and he would fly between the UK and the Far East.

“He also helped to form a band – the Cheshire Cats in which he played the drums.

“The band was named after the Group Captain, Leonard Cheshire, who later went on to marry Sue Ryder.

“Dad stayed in touch and helped to make all of the furniture for the chapel at Sue Ryder’s Cuerden Hall – he served as a governor there too.”

The former mayor was married for more than 55 years to wife Dorothy, who died in 2001.

During the early years of their marriage, he built them their first home in Duddle Lane and the pair ran an off-licence and grocers from there – ‘G and D Woods.’

He leaves behind three grand-daughters – Helen, Stephanie and Jenny.

The flag at South Ribble Council has been flying at half-mast in Mr Woods’ honour and council leader Coun Peter Mullineaux said: “What a true hero George Woods was. I had the honour of working alongside George as a school governor for a number of years and I know he has given so much to the whole community of South Ribble. We will be forever grateful.

“My thoughts and sincere condolences are with his family at this time.”

Mr Woods’ funeral will be held at St Saviour’s Church, Bamber Bridge on Monday, February 5 at 11am. Donations in his memory can be sent to the RAF Benevolent Fund or Sue Ryder Care. Inquiries to B J Watson Funeral Directors in Lostock Hall.