A MAN who was dubbed ‘Uncle Passport’ for helping people secure visas to Pakistan has died at the age of 68.

Mohammed Latif of Cranwell Close, Blackburn, was known throughout the UK for his tireless efforts in helping people gain the correct travel documents.

He was also an accomplished cook whose famous curry was much sought after at weddings and major religious gatherings.

Mr Latif, who was known to many as ‘Khwaja Saab’, came to the UK in 1967 settling on Pilkington Street.

He went on to work at the Waterfall Mill, Imperial Mill and the India Mill but it was his work in assisting people in their hour of need for which he will be best be remembered for by people not only in Blackburn but across Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Before it became commonplace to do burials in the UK, many Pakistanis would repatriate the bodies of loved ones back to Pakistan.

Arranging these flights and securing visas could take time but Mr Latif would go out of his way to help those relatives who needed to travel to the country arranging visas and making last-minute preparations.

He quickly became a community figure after being approached by people to assist them with their travel documents.

His son Asif said: “In the late eighties many people would have to travel to Bradford to gain the correct travel documents and as my father had many contacts over there he was asked by if he could help. It was a role that kind of took over his life.

“He would be contacted sometimes in the middle of the night but he never turned anyone away and was always there when people need him most.

“He was so trusted than even the staff at Liverpool Passport Office got to know of him.”

Mr Latif would use public transport or use lifts to get around as he never learnt to drive.

One of his greatest passions was cooking and Mr Latif was known for producing one of the region’s best curries but on a grand scale.

Asif added: “He loved cooking and he volunteered at his local mosque for 27 years, never once charging for his service.

“We are talking thousands of people here who would need feeding at the major gatherings like the annual Milaad (March to commemorate the birth of the Prophet). I did ask him to stop in recent years because it is major effort and he simply said, ‘It is no big deal I only have to put in the ingredients’. It was one of his greatest passions.

“During the month of Ramadan my father would prepare food parcels for the poor and vulnerable people and had been doing this over the last 10 years. We as a family are hoping to carry this legacy on.”

Mr Latif who died on Sunday August 2 is survived by nine children and 38 grandchildren. He was buried at Pleasington Cemetery on Monday.

Asif said: “We have been touched by the amount of respect people had for him. We have been contacted by people from across the country who have heard of his death, many of whom we do not know of.

“A lot of people have said it is real shame that due not the current situation they were not able to attend his funeral. We would like to thank everyone who has sent us their condolences.”

Friend Qazi Matloob Hussain, 60, said: “I have known him for 30 years and he was a very kind gentleman. He was like my brother. I used to accompany him on many of his visits.

"Day and night he would always be on hand to consult and never made an issue how difficult the job was. This especially true during bereavements as family’s want to visit Pakistan as soon as possible."

Mr Hussain revealed that Mr Latif’s culinary skills were commended by ex-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He said: “I remember in 1999 when she visited Blackburn and we were asked to host her party in Audley. She later asked to meet Mr Latif commending him for the food.”

Suleman Mahmud who had known him since the seventies whilst working alongside him at Imperial Mill and remained a close friend said ‘He will be dearly missed as a friend, family man, community worker and a gentleman. It always amazed me how he devoted so much time for the community, he is a great loss.’

Zaheer said, “Uncle is a huge loss for his family and the community of Blackburn. He will always be remembered as someone who spent all his life helping people .

“However, he could whether he helped you with your visa application or just being an extremely nice person who never said no to anyone I don't think he knew what ‘no’ meant”