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Tributes to former Darwen mayor
LIFE IN PICTURES: Mr Grills receives applause from Liberal Democrat colleague Paul Browne after retaining his Darwen South and Turton seat at the 1993 county council elections.
A FORMER mayor who was ‘Darwen through and through’ has died, aged 91.
Tributes have been paid to Liberal Democrat Charles Grills, who was mayor of the old Borough of Darwen in 1968 and 1969. He died on Monday.
Mr Grills, who had lived with family in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, since 2007, had been poorly for a few months and died from pneumonia.
His daughter, Suzanne Nicholas, 64, said her father had been a ‘fabulous man’.
She said: “Politics was his life. He was very outspoken and I think a lot of people voted for him, rather than the party.
“He was a great family man who enjoyed the simpler things in life.He adored our mum, Dorothy, who died in 2009, and his children. He did everything he could for his family.” Mr Grills also leaves a son, Charles Anthony, grandson David and his wife Ashley, and a great grandson, three-year-old Fynn Matthew Grills – whom he met twice – who live on Long Island, New York.
Mr Grills was born in Darwen and, having been to Highfield School and Sudell Road Secondary School, was called up to fight in the Second World War, joining the Royal Marines.
While on a training exercise preparing for the D-Day landings in France, he lost an eye which meant he was unable to go and fight.
Mrs Nicholas said: “He always said that losing an eye saved his life.” Afterwards he worked at the family business, a fish, fruit and vegetable shop in Sudell Road – which he sold after the death of his brother, Harry, in 1968 – and later worked as a handyman at the Royal Ordnance Factory in Blackburn.
But it was politics with which he was most involved, representing the former Central Ward for 37 years, having been elected in 1961. He also represented Darwen South and Turton on the county council and was made an honorary alderman.
Mr Grills was a big snooker player and could often be found playing at Two Gates Club and the Liberal Club.
He was also a member of Darwen’s Masonic Lodge.
Long-standing Liberal Democrat and Sudell councillor Paul Browne said: “I have known him a long, long time. He will be sadly missed and I bet the church is packed for his funeral.”
Mr Grills’s funeral is at Highfield Congregational Church on Monday, at 10.45am, with cremation at Pleasington at noon. Family flowers only are requested but donations can be made to the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, care of Ainsworth’s Funeral Service in Church Bank Street. A wake will take place later at The Whitehall Hotel.