Well loved 'Mr Padiham' receives surprise Freedom of the Town award at ceremony to mark 100th anniversary of park

A moving ceremony, to honour a man who has devoted his life to his hometown, took place on Sunday.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 4:55 am

Padiham town councillor Bob Clark is believed to be the first person ever to receive the Freedom of the Town.

He received the honour in a surprise presentation on Sunday at an event to unveil a 100th anniversary memorial stone in Padiham's Memorial Park.

Currently battling illness, Bob was allowed out of hospital to attend the unveiling of the stone as it was his idea and he paid for the stone to be erected in the park to mark 100 years since it opened in 1921 as a memorial to the men and women who died in WW1.

Bob Clark after receiving the Freedom of the Town, surrounded by well wishers including his granddaughter Sophie and wife Ann (photo by Naz Alam)
Bob Clark after receiving the Freedom of the Town, surrounded by well wishers including his granddaughter Sophie and wife Ann (photo by Naz Alam)

Speaking to a crowd of well wishers Bob said: "It is thanks to those who made such great sacrifices that we are here today in this wonderful park."

Among those attending the event were Padiham WW2 veterans Jim Bates and Ted Davidson and the Rev Mark Jones of St Leonard's Church led the dedication ceremony for the memorial

Only Bob's family and members of the town council, which gave the award, were aware of the presentation made to Bob after the stone was unveiled. He was presented with a framed certificate by the Mayor of Padiham Coun. Vince Pridden.

The Mayor said: "Everyone knows Bob as 'Mr Padiham' because of all the years of dedication he has given to this town with his time and donations.

The Mayor of Padiham Coun. Vince Pridden with veteran Ted Davidson at the ceremony (photo by Naz Alam )

"He has a long association with Padiham Football Club and was one of the founder members of the town council.

"He is so well known and loved and this honour is very much deserved."

After the presentation dozens of friends and well wishers gathered to congratulate Bob on his distinction.

As a fitting tribute crowds were also treated to a flyover by a Hawker Hurricane arranged by the organisers of Padiham on Parade which was cancelled this year due to covid restrictions.

John Little captured this perfect shot of the Hawker Hurricane during its flypast over Padiham on Sunday

After the ceremony in the park Bob and the veterans and their families were invited to a small celebration at Padiham Football Club where they also cut a cake to mark the 100th anniversary of Memorial Park.

The beautiful memorial stone erected to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Memorial Park, Padiham (photo by Kev Furber)