Tributes have been paid to a former Darwen Football Club chairman who has died, aged 86.

Denis Jepson died at his home on Tuesday, March 5.

A former chair for Darwen FC, Denis was involved in the club from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

His son, Craig Jepson, said Denis was a “true Darrener through and through”.

He said: “He loved Darwen and its people and devoted a lot of his time to many local clubs and committees.

“Dad often went for a drink after work or in the evening, it wasn’t just the Guinness he liked, he loved the conversation.

Lancashire Telegraph: Denis JepsonDenis Jepson (Image: Grant Jepson)

“He was very much part of the local community and would find time to chat to anyone.

“[We are] are proud to have had him as a father.”

Craig said Darwen FC was a big part of his father's life.

He said: “He played football in his younger years and the club meant a lot to him.

"The whole family was involved - our mother Elizabeth ran the canteen, I was the groundsman and Grant [Denis' son] was the mascot.

"He was very proud when they won the North West Counties Football League Challenge Cup in the 1982-83 season."

A spokesperson for Darwen FC said: "Denis was such a lovely man, a true gentleman who did so much for Darwen. Such a very sad loss."

Denis was also a former choirmaster and organist to many churches in Lancashire.

Lancashire Telegraph: Denis JepsonDenis Jepson (Image: Grant Jepson)

Denis also owned Old and New Editions toy shop in the town between 1988 and 2002.

The shop was originally in Bolton Road, before moving to Bridge Street where it remained until Denis’ retirement in 2002.

Craig said: “He would deliver to customers dressed as Father Christmas in his red van on Christmas Eve and was once stopped by the police to check he wasn’t drinking on the job!

“His first Saturday girl employee, Lisa, who remained with him for five years, says he treated her with enormous kindness, patience and generosity, making her feel like one of the family.”

Since the announcement of his death, hundreds have paid tribute to Denis calling him a “lovely man and a true gentleman who was always smiling”.

Craig said: “It was very moving to [read] the comments. People regularly used to come up to him and tell him what an impact he had had on their lives.”

Denis was the youngest son of John "JC" & Phebe Jepson. He was also the husband of the late Elizabeth, and a much loved father to Craig,  Bridget, Grant and Juliette.

Denis' funeral will take place at St Cuthbert's Church, Earnsdale Road, Darwen at 10.30am on Friday, March 22, followed by a short service at Pleasington Crematorium.

Donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Society charity.