RAMBLING enthusiasts across the county are gearing up to the celebrate the life of one of Blackburn's most famous sons.

Alfred Wainwright, who was born in Audley Range in 1907, is famous around the world for his pictorial guides and sketch books based around walking in the Lake District.

And while Wainwright is mainly associated with fell walking, he also has strong links to Blackburn and was a founder member of the Blackburn Rovers Supporters' Association.

The town is preparing to host a series of events around January 17 next year when Wainwright, who died in 1991, would have reached the age of 100.

On Saturday, January 20, there will be an informal dinner at Ewood Park and a special service at the Cathedral is pencilled in for 2pm the following day.

His friend and television presenter Eric Robson recalled how important a role Blackburn played during Wainwright's early years.

He said: "I think the happiest I ever saw Alfred was one summery afternoon when the pair of us were standing on a bit of grass that was plusher than his normal stamping grounds. Sadly, the view was nothing to write home about.

"This wasn't Haystacks or Borrowdale or Mardale before the flood - we were standing in the centre circle of Ewood Park and Wainwright was reminiscing about his long connection with both the club and the town.

"Every Saturday he would rush away early from what-ever filming we were doing to get the Blackburn result, convinced that this was the week when the old glories would start to return.

"In truth Blackburn was good to Alfred Wainwright. The town hall gave him a job, encouraged him to study.

"His position in the Borough Treasurer's Department was the springboard that would let him escape to promotion in Kendal and into the Lakeland mountains."

Wainwright's popularity was highlighted again in September this year when one of his most cult illustrated novels, "Scratch and Co, The Great Cat Expedition," was re-released by a Rishton publisher.

Book shops in the area saw a surge of interest as people tried to get hold of a copy.

One of the 1968 original's even turned up in an Oxfam shop in Clitheroe where it soon sold for £70.

For further details on the centenary events, contact the Wainwright Society's press and public relations officer, John Burland on 07929625379.

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