A stalwart of the biscuit industry and a ‘true gentleman’ who was instrumental in the economic regeneration of East Lancashire has died aged 84.

Philip McIvor was the chairman of Nelson’s Farmhouse Biscuits, which he founded with his wife Dorothy in 1973.

The businessman died on Saturday after suffering a short bout of ill health.

Farmhouse Biscuits released a touching tribute to the family man, and champion of Pendle businesses, who staff say they will ‘never forget’.

The firm’s statement read: “It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of our owner and founder, Mr Philip McIvor who would have celebrated his 85th birthday this week.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

“Through sheer hard work and determination Philip and his lovely wife Dorothy created an amazing company that produces some of the most wonderful biscuits.

“It was always a pleasure to work for such a warm, humble, caring and gentle man who was inspirational to so many for many different reasons.

“We will miss him so very, very much.

“Rest in peace and fly high Mr Mac.

“We will never forget you and the world will always thank you for your Oat Flips.”

Mr McIvor was given an MBE in 2016 in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, for services to the food industry and economic regeneration of East Lancashire, and before that, in 2011, he was named Lancastrian of the Year.

He is survived by Dorothy, two children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Philip McIvor.

“Farmhouse Biscuits grew from baking a few biscuits at home and selling them on a market stall, to one of the UK’s biggest independent biscuit manufacturers, supplying the likes of Harrods, Fortnum’s and Buckingham Palace, as well as exporting tons of biscuits around the world.

“Philip’s contribution to our area was recognised by the Queen, when he was made an MBE in 2016.

“Philip was for many years the president of Pendle Conservative Association and will be sorely missed by local councillors, members, and volunteers.

“He only stood down from this role in March 2019, when his deteriorating health meant he felt it was time to pass the baton on.

“When I was first selected as the Conservative candidate for Pendle 15 years ago, Philip’s support and advice was invaluable.

“Philip took time out of his busy schedule to show me around the bakery in Nelson and introduce me to other local business owners.

“He took time to explain how this incredible family business had taken shape and how through his involvement in groups like the Pendle Vision Board he was passionate about supporting other local businesses.

“Over the years George Osborne, Michael Gove, Priti Patel and Boris Johnson all visited Farmhouse Biscuits – donning hairnets to find out about the business’s incredible success.

“At the same time as banging the drum for local business Philip went about quietly supporting dozens of local charities and groups across Pendle.

“I lost track of the number of charity events I attended which Farmhouse Biscuits had supported, often behind the scenes without seeking any recognition or publicity.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Dorothy, his family and friends.

“Philip was a true gentleman, who would go out of his way to help others and I will always miss his advice and friendship.”

Details of Mr McIvor’s funeral have yet to be made public.