A DEPUTY headteacher who taught in Blackburn for two decades has died at the age of 85.

Malcolm Blackburn, was deputy head at St Wilfrid’s CE Academy for two decades, after being appointed in 1975.

Mr Blackburn, of Buccleuch Avenue, Clitheroe, was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Millennium honours list for his services to Clitheroe, including his work as a Sunday school teacher, lay reader, cricket coach and magistrate, with a trip to Buckingham Palace in February, 2000.

A successful sportsman, Mr Blackburn captained Clitheroe Cricket Club’s first team and played for several clubs.

Although he died in Nelson earlier this month after a long battle with Alzheimers, Mr Blackburn spent most of his life in Clitheroe.

Born to Harold and Bertha Blackburn in 1934, he attended Pendle County Primary School and Clitheroe Royal Grammar School before studying at Liverpool University.

Mr Blackburn served in the army during his national service, rising to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Army Education Corps before embarking on his career as a chemistry teacher.

After three years on the staff at Hutton Grammar School, he and his wife, Judith, headed out to teach in east Africa shortly after they were married.

It was during that two year stay that Mr Blackburn - an accomplished batsman at the time - was called up to play for Uganda in a test match against Kenya - although it proved to be a solitary cap.

Away from work, he served as a magistrate on the Blackburn, Darwen and Ribble Valley Bench for 22 years.

As a committed Christian, he was a lifelong member of St James’ Church, Clitheroe, also serving as a Sunday School teacher. He also served the church as a lay reader for around 45 years - during which time he did a lot of work on the United Reformed Church circuit - and was on the Parochial Church Council for several decades.

Mr Blackburn was also a trustee at the church and was involved in the appointment of the last two rectors.

Mr Blackburn was chairman of governors at St James’ CE Primary School for 10 years and after retiring was responsible for setting up its after school club.

He was a lifelong supporter of Blackburn Rovers.

Mr Blackburn was also a highly-successful cricket coach for various under 11s, under 13s, under 15s and under 18s sides at Chatburn Road over many years. One of his greatest achievements came in the mid 1980s when he led an under 15 side, including his son Richard and nephew Marcus, to become county champions at Old Trafford.

Mr Blackburn was involved with various charities, including Population Concern - raising more than £10,000 with an appeal at St Wilfrid’s - the Clitheroe Churches Furniture Store and The Samaritans in Blackburn.

He leaves behind wife Judith, sons Stephen, Richard and Martin, and six grandchildren.

Mrs Blackburn said: “As a family we have been overwhelmed by the lovely tributes paid to Malcolm and all the cards we’ve received over recent days. We are so grateful for everyone’s sympathy and support.”

Following a private cremation, a thanksgiving service will be held at St James’ Church, Clitheroe at 11.30am tomorrow.