Top Pendle trade union man Bob dies: tributes

bob little
bob little

a PENDLE man whose rich and varied life saw him become a top trade union official and the first chairman of Pendle Leisure Trust has died after a long illness.

Bob Little (79), of Langroyd Road, Colne, worked in the textile trade for many years and served as the North-West general secretary for the Beamers, Twisters and Drawers Union, taking up the causes of laid off workers as mills closed one after the other.

He began work at the age of 14 at Alan Wilkinson’s in Nelson and moved from there to Stonebridge Mill in Colne, Bannister’s at Trawden - later Bairdtex - and Richard Watson Textiles in Colne.

There was an interlude when he was a personnel officer at Earby Light Engineers Ltd, and in 1985 he left his union role to become personnel manager at BEP in Burnley.

Mr Little was a well-known local sportsman, playing cricket as an opening bowler for Colne in the Lancashire League for many years - his brother, Peter, and sons Gary and Terry also played for the club - as well as having spells as professional at Earby and Bolton side Little Lever.

He played football for the former Colne Lads’ Club and Colne Legion, and was treasurer of Trawden Celtic FC where his sons and brother played.

He was one of the leading figures in the founding of the East Lancashire Football League in the early 1980s and a cup competition is still played in his honour in that league.

Mr Little was appointed as a magistrate in Pendle in 1977, sat on industrial tribunals and when the Pendle Leisure Trust was established in 2000, he was elected as its chairman, a post he held until illness forced him to stand down in 2009.

The trust’s chief executive, Mr Phil Storey, said: “From my point of view he was very special and a bit unique.

“When I was told that he had been appointed as chairman of the leisure trust, I was very pleased to say the least.

“He was someone I had a lot of respect for. He was a sporting icon in Colne Cricket Club history.

“He was chairman at the beginning of the leisure trust in October, 2000, and he helped me and the rest of the staff and supported us through what was unknown territory.

“We were lucky because he had a great deal of experience in HR and the way in which business worked.

“He helped steer us at the beginning when times were hard. He was always supportive when we came up with new innovations and a lot of the current success of the Pendle Leisure Trust was down to how Bob helped to set it up in the first place.

“From our point of view we have lost a good pal. He was a true gentleman.”

Mr Little is survived by his wife, Brenda, and his two sons, His funeral will be held today at St Michael and All Angels Church, Foulridge.