AN award-winning East Lancashire dialect poet and war veteran has died.

Jim Atherton, who lived all his life in Darwen, passed away last month at the age of 90 from heart failure and pneumonia.


Mr Atherton, who had two children, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren, wrote more than 700 poems and won countless awards for them.

He also dedicated his life to community groups such as the Hoddlesden Millennium Green Trust and raised around £14,000 for charities like Derian House Children’s Hospice and the North West Air Ambulance.

Mr Atherton lived in Waterfield Avenue in Darwen with his wife Edna, whom he was married to for 64 years, until she passed away two years ago. His daughter Joan Taylor, 56, said he was a brilliant dad and left behind a tremendous legacy.

She said: “Some of his poems were funny, but some of them were very serious, he could write about absolutely anything.

“One that sticks in my mind was a very funny one about the car park on top of the market in Darwen that used to get huge puddles. He was very passionate and knowledgeable about the town.

“He was always a lively dad and everybody knew him. You couldn’t get your shopping done without people saying hello to him.”

Mr Atherton, who worked as a butcher and an engraver during his life, won several awards for his poetry from Rochdale’s Edwin Waugh Dialect Society including the President’s Cup, which had been won solely by Rochdale poets since 1938 before Mr Atherton lifted it in 2011.

He also served in the Army as a driver and mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers unit in Europe during the Second World War and in Malaysia just afterwards.

His son Clive, 62, said: “The fact that he served in the Army was an important part of his life as well as his poetry. He was always a family man and I have fond memories of our holidays and walks on the moors. He was the best dad I could have asked for.”

Linda Dawson, chair of the Hoddlesden Millennium Green Trust, said: “He was an incredible man and we are really going to miss him and his hugs.

“The only consolation is he's now with his beloved Edna.

"He'll be irreplaceable.”