Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a much loved cobbler and familiar face around Burnley who has died following a brave battle with depression.
Mr Geoffrey Heys, who had worked as a shoe repairer at Burnley Market Hall since the mid-1980s, died at home in Nelson aged 63.
His devastated wife of 26 years, Lesley Heys, told the Burnley Express of her hugely popular husband’s fabulous personality, but one which sadly hid his inner demons.
Lesley said: “Geoffrey was fabulous. We met on September 28th, 1988, and married in 1992. He was so well-known and loved throughout Burnley and Pendle.
“He lived for his work as a shoe repairer, either working for himself or Timpson’s at various stages since 1970.
“Geoffrey was very bubbly, like a bottle of champagne, although he didn’t need to drink it. Sadly, he suffered from depression and in the end it was too much.”
Lesley recounted how her beloved husband had deterioated in recent weeks and had sought help from Burnley General Hospital and the local Crisis team, but sadly took his own life.
She added that one of her fervent hopes is that other families do not have to go through the same pain.
“It is just so cruel, he was my rock, but sadly he felt he couldn’t go on. I just wish there was more support for loved ones locally and of course for people who suffer from this dreadful condition.
“Just a few weeks ago Geoffrey said to me his depression was like a brick wall. He said it was black, and that he couldn’t go through it or over it.”
Mr Heys, who was born and brought up in Burnley, but lived in Nelson, lived for his work and also enjoyed gardening in his spare time.
He also helped his wife run a voluntary group, Thrifty Ways Forever, which helped lonely or lost people.
Among many friends, he leaves his brother Tony, his wife Debbie and their children Bethany and Lucy.
Such was his popularity that lesley organised two funerals for her husband, first at St John’s Church in Nelson, and this week at Burnley Crematorium, with both services packed with mourners.
Lesley added: “Geoffrey loved his work. I think this was because he got to meet so many people and figure out solutions to awkward problems.
“I had to make him go on holiday because he loved work so much. I would like to thank Timpson’s for allowing so many of their employees to take time off work to attend the funeral.
“Together, we’ve made a lot of friends who are helping me get through this difficult time. I am very grateful to my friend Joyce, who has been wonderful.”
Lesley has made donations to the mental health charity MIND and asked others to do so in Geoffrey’s memory.
An inquest is expected to be heard into his death in the near future.
She added: “If you asked anyone about Geoffrey they would just smile. He was the life and soul of the party. My only hope is that more support can be given to mental health in this country so other families will not have to go through this.”