TRIBUTES have been paid to a 'kind and compassionate' businessman who had a 60-year association with Burnley Sea Cadets.

John McCarthy Phillips, 73, who was president of the Burnley Unit, died after contracting pneumonia during treatment for bone marrow cancer.

Mr Phillips, who lived with his wife Jane, in Bacup, was a wartime evacuee to Burnley from his native Lewisham and he and his mother returned to live in the area after his father was killed in action in France in 1944.

At the age of 12 Mr Phillips joined Burnley Sea Cadets and later joined the Navy Fleet Air Arm as a navigator.

He then pursued a career in fire protection in the South of England before moving back to Bacup 31 years ago.

For the past 12 years, he had run signmaking business Top Signs with on Neptune Street, Burnley, with his brother Richard.

Mrs Phillips, said: “John was rightly proud of his long association with the cadets and saw generations of young men and women pass through, many of whom went on to serve in the forces.

“He was a very active man, continuing to work and driving his smart car with the company logo on it right up to when he went into hospital three months ago.”

Mr Phillips, who also leaves a son, Duncan, was also a member of Rossendale Aviation Club which meets at Haslingden Cricket Club and a member of the Royal British Legion in Burnley.

Until shortly before his death he gave talks to groups on the Royal Naval Historic Flight.

The current secretary of Burnley Sea Cadets, Pat Carlin, said that Mr Phillips’ loss would felt by everyone associated with the unit, which meets at TS Lookout on Stanley Street.

She said: “He was our driving force and mentored many of the cadets, including our former commanding officer and my daughter Liz Jubb.

“He also raised a lot of money for the group, enough to buy the mini-bus that we still use.

“His death is a massive loss to us all.”