FORMER Hyndburn MP Ken Hargreaves has died aged 73 after a long illness.

Mr Hargreaves, a prominent Catholic and anti-abortion campaigner was awarded the MBE in 2006 for services to the community, and was recognised recently by the Pope with a Knighthood of St Gregory.

He represented Hyndburn from 1983 to 1992 and died on Saturday morning at the East Lancashire Hospice in Blackburn.

Tributes to Mr Hargreaves and his lifetime of community service have been paid.

His friend Ann Widdecombe, former MP for Maidstone, said: “Ken will be remembered with huge affection by friends and colleagues. He was a tireless campaigner for God and the unborn. No constituent was ever neglected no matter how trivial the problem. The trumpets will have sounded loudly on the other side.”

Catholic Peer, Lord David Alton of Liverpool, who served for decades with Ken as an officer of the Parliamentary Pro-life Group says: “Ken was one of those under-stated men, rare in politics, who had little time for vanity or ego but gave himself quietly to his causes. He never faltered in his deep conviction that every life is precious, from conception until natural death; stood four square with the down trodden; and combined patriotism and a love of his Lancashire roots - most notably Hyndburn, Accrington and Oswaldtwistle - with a deep and simple Catholic faith.

“Whether he was serving Mass, as he did for 60 years; working with the St.Vincent de Paul Society or charities and organisations of which he was a member - from the Epiphany Trust and Movement for Christian Democracy or Right To Life - Ken Hargreaves set a fine example of dedicated public service. May he rest in peace."