TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular East Lancashire golf professional who has died, aged 55.

Gerry Bond, who was professional for Blackburn Golf Club in the 1980s and well known in the region, died on New Year’s Day after a year-long battle with cancer.

Mr Bond, who lived with his wife Hilary and children Jack, 12, and Lauren, 8, in Langho, was a Professional Golfers Association pro for more than 30 years, having turned professional at the age of 15.

He started his golfing career as assistant professional at Hesketh Golf Club in his hometown of Southport in 1972. He moved to Blackburn, before joining the PGA and spending 10 years on the European Tour.

More recently, he had taken over at Samlesbury Golf Driving Range and Teaching Academy.

Mr Bond was diagnosed with cancer in January last year and after months of chemotherapy he had an operation in June and made a full recovery. He fell ill again in November and was admitted to intensive care on Christmas Day, and was diagnosed with bone cancer.

He was sent home on New Year’s Eve where he died surrounded by his family. Mr Bond also leaves brothers Derek, Liam, Cliff, Mark, Chris and sister Liza.

Blackburn Golf Club vice-captain Stephen Matthews paid tribute to Mr Bond. He said: “He was our professional for pretty much all of the 1980s and will be well known to long-standing members. “He was a larger-than-life character and there was never dull moment in his company.

“He was also a very valued member of the winning Dunham Forest team in 1982. Gerry will be sorely missed by everyone at Blackburn Golf Club.”

A funeral service will be held next Friday, at St Gabriel’s Church in Blackburn, from 1.30pm, with cremation at Pleasington Crematorium at 2.30pm followed by a reception at Blackburn Golf Club. Family flowers only. Donations to Cancer Research UK via Lee Champs Funeral Services Ltd, Bank House, Whalley Road, Clayton-le-Moors.