A WORLD-renowned landscape architect from Great Harwood has died suddenly aged 59.

John Hopkins, the mastermind and driving force behind the design of London’s Olympic Park, died of natural causes in America.

Mr Hopkins was found by campus security in his apartment at the University of Pennsylvania where he was working as a lecturer.

His brother Kevin, who ran Hopkins Bakery in Park Avenue, Great Harwood, until last year, said: “His daughter Rosie rang us to tell us that he had been found dead.

“He was found collapsed in the bathroom by campus security after his fiancee Laura failed to reach him.

“He was due to marry this June.

“His death knocked me sideways.

“He’s eight years younger than me and that’s not what you expect. It’s very sad. He was a lovely man and was so well-liked.

“John was an ecologist. He wanted the world to be a better place, and he wanted better things for the future.

“He was always smiling and never forgot his roots. He would always start his emails ‘ay up lad’.”

Mr Hopkins, who used to live above the bakery, attended St Wulstan’s Primary School in Great Harwood.

He spent a short time at St Augustine’s in Billington before attending St Mary’s College in Blackburn.

Mr Hopkins, who died on January 21, had been responsible for transforming the contaminated Greenwich wasteland into an ecological park enjoyed by millions of visitors to the London 2012 Games.

His book, The Making of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, was published in January and the site is due to reopen in phases from this summer.

Kevin Hopkins said: “Olympic Park is his legacy.

“I can’t wait until it is open to the public and I can just take in what he has achieved.

“Great Harwood should be proud. Lancashire should be proud of what he has done and what he has achieved.”

Mr Hopkins’ work had taken him around the world.

He had worked in Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong and America.

A memorial was held on Saturday for close family and friends and a memorial is expected to be held in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park later this year.