George (88) will be missed by many

Florian 'George' Witowski. (S)
Florian 'George' Witowski. (S)

Tributes have poured in for a devoted family man from Barnoldswick who starred in the town’s football team.

St Mary-le-Ghyll Church was full on Monday for the funeral of Florian “George” Witowski (88).

Known as “George”, an affectionate name plucked out of thin air by his team-mates, Mr Witowski was best remembered for his dazzling skills as a winger with Barnoldswick Park Rovers in the 1940s and 1950s, the club later becoming Barnoldswick Town.

Born in Poland, Mr Witowski was just 13 when war broke out and he was taken away from his family with other young Polish boys to Germany and put to work.

Mr Witowski did not see his mother again for more than 15 years, when she was finally able to trace him in Barnoldswick through the British Embassy.

After the war, he found work in Italy before boarding a ship to England along with hundreds of young men and found a job at Story Fabrics in Calf Hall Mill where he worked all his life.

He was staying at a hostel near Rolls-Royce in 1949 when he met his future wife Peggy.

Mr Witowski insisted it was Peggy who came over to ask him to dance on a night out, though neither could understand a word each other was saying.

After marrying in May, 1951 at Ghyll Church, they had five children, son Brian, and daughters Sue, Ann, Julie and Linda.

Outside work, the couple enjoyed family days out in the Dales with their children and were frequent visitors to Llandudno’s Victorian Festival.

A keen Manchester United supporter, after finishing his football playing days, Mr Witowski developed an interest in horse racing and regular trips to Ripon races followed.

He was also music, loved listening to ballads and was accomplished on the accordion.

Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs Witowski said: “He was a devoted, loving, family man, he did everything for the family. Whenever we went out in the car on days out, it was ‘are the children coming’?

“The car was our life. We used to go to Llandudno every year and enjoyed walking up and down the promenade and the lovers’ walk. We used to talk about having a bench up there because the views are out of this world.

“I think the family will miss him playing the accordion. He would always do Happy Birthday, and play it twice.”

Monday’s funeral cortege took Mr Witowski down to Victory Park for one final time and Mrs Witowski would like to thank his football friends and committee members for standing at the gates to mark the occasion, preacher at the service Claire Greenwood, funeral directors Alderson and Horan and everybody for flowers and donations.

Mr Witowksi suffered with Alzheimer’s in later life, and Mrs Witowksi also wished to pay special thanks to staff at Heather Grange Care Home in Burnley.

As well as his wife and children, Mr Witowski leaves 12 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.