TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘proud Blackburn man’ who was a prominent and much-loved figure in his community.

Raymond Smith died surrounded by family in his own home on May 5 at the age of 81.

The keen bowler, historian, writer and golfer was a well-known figure in the community and was captain, president, treasurer, secretary and chairman of a whole host of groups and clubs.

The Blackburn Golf Club, Salisbury Bowling Club, Blackburn with Darwen Bowls Partnership and Blackburn Museum were just a few of such clubs.

Mr Smith was also the author of Blackburn Through Time and Blackburn From Old Photographs. 

Daughter Sue Devaney said: “He was such a loving and honest family man who absolutely doted on his granddaughters Laura and Sophie.”

Mr Smith, who was born and bred in Blackburn was granted a scholarship to study at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School before he went on to complete National Service in the RAF for two years.

Upon returning to Blackburn he met Joan whom he later married. The couple had two children, Sue and Russell.

Upon his retirement Mr Smith dedicated much of his free time to societies and clubs, becoming a prominent and well-loved figure throughout Blackburn.

A spokesperson for the Blackburn Local History Society, where Mr Smith was chairman for many years, said: “Ray was a well known local historian and author of pictorial histories of the Blackburn area.

“He will be sadly missed by members of the former Blackburn Local History Society and, we are sure, by the wider community.”

Harriet Roberts, of the society, added: “I am personally very grateful for Ray. Without being able to tap into his knowledge, the creativity and energy behind many projects and events wouldn’t have been possible.”

Adele Karwat, service manager at Blackburn with Darwen Library, added: “Over many years, Ray has been a wonderful advocate for the Community History Library, and also, for Cotton Town, the borough’s digital archive.

"All the library staff will miss him greatly."