Villagers in tribute to legend

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Croston came to a standstill on Thursday as mourners paid their respects to one of the village’s favourite daughters.

Traffic was stopped along Town Lane for 10 minutes last Thursday as the body of Kathleen Eccleston (nee Ashcroft) was brought from her family home at Highfield Farm to St Michaels & All Angels Parish Church on Town Lane.

Hundreds of people stood in silence as the black horsedrawn carriage made its way through the village.

Rev Dave Reynolds, who led the service, said: “Kathleen was always there for the opening and the prayers and left to get on with the business of the day and missed the sermon.

“Well, Kathleen you are going to have to stay for this service.”

Kathleen, who died at the age of 84, was best-known for working on the farm and more than 100 people who packed out the church laughed as John Raynor shared stories about the former Croston Parochial School pupil.

He said: “As a child she was a daddy’s girl with (father) Robert in the cattle wagon - going up and down to the local farms picking up cows to take to Preston auction.

“Kathleen would never leave the farm - even when she got married to Kenneth on June 19, 1962.

“The wedding was cut short as she wanted to get back for milking and to check on a cow that was due to calf that day.

“They didn’t get a honeymoon as there was too much work to do.”

Kathleen took over the farm back in 1963 when her dad Robert died.

Mr Raynor said: “She and Kenneth made a good team.

“However, she was the boss and wore the trousers - or her dad’s trousers as she wore everybody else’s clothes.

“In 1969 she felt unwell and went to see the doctor on a push bike, but after examining he told her that she was almost seven months pregnant.

“She was told that she must not ride a bike any more but that did not stop her and she rode home in shock.”

In June 1969 she gave birth to Alice and mourners laughed at tales at her daughter’s wedding in 2005.

Mr Raynor said: “Kathleen was pleased as punch. (Alice’s husband) John got a bit of a shock at the wedding when she said that he had married her as well.

“Kathleen was good-hearted, kind, funny and a loveable lady who was determined to live until she was 200.

“She was such a strong and lively character and lightened up a lot of lives.”

There were further tributes and a reading of the Farmer’s Poem by local girl guide leader Joyce Kendrick who had taken children to stay at Highfield Farm.

Hymns included Abide with Me and All Things Bright and Beautiful. The funeral was organised by B Livesey Funeral Directors on Bolton Street, Chorley.