Earby mourns death of a legend, Sam (90)

Sam Lawson (90), was well-known and loved in West Craven
Sam Lawson (90), was well-known and loved in West Craven

TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known and loved Earby man described as a “true gentleman” by his family and friends.

Sam Lawson (90) died peacefully at Albert House Care Home, Colne, and was buried yesterday at Earby Cemetery.

Born at Fat Hill Farm near Bolton-by-Bowland, Sam spent much of his life living and working on family farms.

He was a pupil at Newton and Alder Hill schools and left education at 14 to work.

When the family moved to Park House Farm at Elslack in 1936, Sam joined Mount Zion Baptist Church, where he remained a dedicated member for the rest of his life.

In 1951, Sam married Lucy and the couple settled at Gate House Farm, Earby, where they would live for the next 25 years. They had a son, Stephen, who died when he was six, and then Peter, now 52.

Having left farming, Sam worked briefly for Briggs and Duxbury, before becoming a council worker for 30 years.

His outdoors work included everything from road sweeping and gardening to clearing snow and cleaning toilets. His friends said he could turn his hand to anything.

It was Sam’s love of the outdoors that made him enjoy his work so much. He belonged in the countryside and was a member of a walking club as well as the Earby Environmental Group, volunteering to repair footpaths and stiles.

Sam was also a life-long stalwart of Earby and District Gardeners’ Association, and was for many years its chairman and president. His involvement with gardening in the town culminated with the Town Council honouring Sam by naming its new allotments at Cemetery Road after him last year. Friends said he was “absolutely chuffed” with the tribute.

He was also known about the town for his red three-wheeler Reliant Robin vans, in which he used to transport sheep to auction, as well as volunteering as a Meals on Wheels driver.

Sam lived in Alder Hill Street from 1976 until 2009, when he moved into residential care, eventually settling at Albert House. He had been in declining health for the last 10 years.

Friends from Mount Zion said Sam would do so much for others, but kept his assistance quiet and would never brag.

He would visit ill people, act as maintenance man and served as assistant treasurer at the church for many years.

One friend said: “He had a big heart, a lot of compassion and a lot of time for other people.”

At his funeral, loved ones heard about some of Sam’s heroic acts, from rescuing cats and stopping All Saints’ Church from burning down, to preventing a steam roller from ploughing into Kelbrook Primary School and begging the council’s dustbin men for discarded parts so he could make bikes for children who couldn’t afford them.

Long-time neighbour Pat Spenceley said: “He was a lovely man, a proper gentleman and very helpful. I shall miss him very much. He was the backbone of the village.” As well as his son Peter, Sam leaves two sisters and one brother.