Family's heartbreak after death of Clitheroe mother-of-two (44) and 'the light of their lives'

Tributes have been paid to much-loved and popular local businesswoman and talented stained glass artist, Deborah Jane Burke, who died earlier this month aged 44.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 10:19 am
The late Deborah Jane Burke

On the morning of April 30th, Deborah (Deb) suffered a massive stroke. Despite the rapid response of paramedics, and the very best care and efforts of the neurological team at Royal Preston Hospital, she died peacefully on Wednesday, May 5th.Deb was well known in the town for running Lightworks Stained Glass with her brother, Dan.

Having actively signed up as an organ donor a number of years ago, one of Deb's last acts has been to directly help to save the lives of multiple others. Her entire family has taken a great amount of consolation from this.

Born and brought up in Clitheroe, she attended St James' Primary School and then Ribblesdale High until 1992. By that time she had decided that she had to follow her passion and ability for some form of artistic career, which had been encouraged there. She therefore attended Blackburn College to take her A-Levels where she achieved straight "A’s". During this period she also met her lifetime partner and love of her life, Scott. While many of her friends headed for university, Deb headed for an apprenticeship.

In 1994 she secured just such an apprenticeship with one of the region’s top stained glass companies. Here, she learned all aspects of this ancient craft even down to fixing completed works on site from time to time. In 1996 she was joined by her brother, Dan, where he worked with the site fitting team on a wide range of private, commercial, and ecclesiastical commissions across the North of England fitting many of Deb’s creations.

In 1998, with Dan, Deb co-founded Lightworks Stained Glass in Clitheroe and the business grew from strength-to-strength. So much so, it is now recognised as one of the leading stained glass design, manufacturing, and installation companies in the country, thanks in no small part to Deb’s inspired designs and craftswomanship. Deb was the principal artist for the company and worked alongside her life-long friend, Abigail.

Paying tribute to a "beautiful, kind and funny"daughter, her father Steve Burke, said: "A visit to the company’s website will testify to the gifted creativity of her imagination, her heart and her hand. These will thankfully remain as a legacy to her working life, as one of our country’s finest stained glass artists and craftswomen."

He added: "A mother to two boys - Harry and Zack, Deb’s sole interests were her family, her work, and her friends. Whatever she decided to do, be it a partner, a mother, or a friend – she did it to the very best of her abilities and with passion and humour. In return, she was loved by all who knew her and will be sadly and sorely missed by all.

"With family and friends she loved to travel in Europe and America, always returning inspired by the many ancient and modern places she had visited. She also loved the countryside - and the Lakes in particular, where she spent what turned out to be her last weekend with Scott and Zack at Skelwith Fold.

"The love Deb, Scott, Harry, and Zack shared for and with each other, the laughter, and adventures they had together – often shared with their many friends and wider family, alongside their abiding value of home and family life - simply cannot be put into words adequately. All who knew her though, will know just how deep this love was and the powerful memories she leaves behind will remain forever with Scott, Harry and Zack - the ‘lights of her life’ - and all who had the privilege to know her."

A Thanksgiving Service took place at Clitheroe Parish Church yesterday (Monday), followed by committal at Accrington Crematorium Chapel.

Deb’s family wish to thank the many who have supported them through this most difficult and desperate time. Steve said: "There are simply too many to mention but they, and we her family, know who they are."

A fundraising page has been set up in memory of Deb for charities close to her heart. Anyone wishing to donate is asked to CLICK HERE