A WELL-KNOWN florist and member of the Barnoldswick community has died suddenly.
Gail Usher, who ran Frank Street florist House of Flowers, passed away on Saturday. The vice-president of the Barnoldswick and Earby Rotary Club was 55, and leaves her son Ryan and partner Karl Baldwin.
Miss Usher, who was due to move to Barnoldswick with Karl this year, died at her home in Hapton.
She had many good friends in Barnoldswick, and believed passionately that as a business owner, she should care about the community aspect of town life.
Mr Baldwin said: “She became involved in the local Chamber of Trade and served as chairman.
“She was also the first women invited to be a member of the Rotary in Barnoldswick and Earby and was set to be president in 2012/2013, the 50th anniversary of the organisation in the town.”
She began her floristry career in 1976, being awarded student of the year two years running. After training in Wakefield, Manchester and London, she established the Barnoldswick shop in 1992. She also freelanced, with her work taking her to Hong Kong, Belgium, Iceland, Portugal, Italy, the Channel Islands and the USA.
Current president of Barnoldswick and Earby Rotary Club and Miss Usher’s former employer Mr Richard Brown paid tribute.
He said: “Gail was a bit of a character and was certainly an extrovert.
“She came to work for me when I had Brown’s Florists in Burnley, 35 years ago.
“She worked for me until she had Ryan, and then later set up her own shop.
“If she thought something she would say it, and she took part in anything and everything within town.
“She came into the Rotary about three years ago and was due to take over my presidency in late June.
“She had planned a Rotary canal trip for the end of the term and start of the new one, which we will still go ahead with in memory of her.”
As well as a love for cars, Miss Usher enjoyed riding her Harley Davidson, playing tennis and dance classes.
Mr Baldwin added: “Despite this tremendous loss, House of Flowers continues under the stewardship of Gail’s senior florist Mellissa Beckley.
“Obviously this is a difficult time for everyone, but Gail’s profound wish was that House of Flowers continue, so I ask you please be supportive of Mellissa.”
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson was “very sad” to hear of her sudden death, and added: “I always enjoyed popping into her shop for a chat and she joined me for afternoon tea in the Commons last December. A tragic loss of a true campaigner and inspiration to many.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.