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Ex-church minister and mayor of Blackburn dies at 95
A FORMER mayor and church minister, described as a ‘Lancastrian through and through’, has died, aged 95.
The Rev Jim Watson, who served as mayor of Blackburn in 1982-83, died at Royal Blackburn Hospital on Friday night.
He was admitted to hospital due to an infection after a fall at his home. He contracted pneumonia and died.
Mr Watson first became a Labour councillor after moving to Blackburn from Oldham. He represented the St Thomas’s ward, now Queen’s Park, for a number of terms from 1964 until 1997 and was on several committees including health and education.
He also served as minister at the former Audley Range United Reformed Church from 1958 until he retired in 1982.
Rev Watson was also Blackburn district scout commissioner in the 1960s and led several groups to the world jamborees.
Daughter Vanessa Pickup, of Pinewood, Blackburn, said: “He was the longest serving minister in Lancashire and this year he would have been ordained 70 years and was looking forward to a celebration in July.
“His death will leave a big hole in my life.
“He lived independently at his home in Blackburn, but I would see him for several hours each day.
“He had a lot of friends and colleagues and was very interesting to talk to. He had some very interesting tales.”
The great-grandfather was the son of a suffragette and said that is where he got his fighting spirit from.
Mrs Pickup said: “He was very understanding, focused and very caring.
“He was a Lancastrian through and through, and was very patriotic.”
She said he had requested Land Of Hope And Glory to be played at his funeral.
Blackburn House of Lords member Thomas Taylor paid tribute to Rev Watson, whom he had known since the late 1950s.
Lord Taylor said: “I met him when he first came to town because he was a co-opted member of the education committee when I was chairman and he was an extremely useful member.
“He was a brilliant communicator, an excellent councillor and he certainly cared for his community.
“Jim will always be remembered for his enthusiasm, his forward looking and for his kindness towards the people of Blackburn.”
His funeral will be held at 2pm at Woodlands United Reformed Church on Preston Old Road on Tuesday, January 15.
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