HUNDREDS of mourners paid their respects to ‘an inspirational man’ at a moving ceremony for Ken Hargreaves.

Around 400 people packed into St Mary’s RC Church in Oswaldtwistle to bid farewell to Ken Hargreaves – a former Mayor, MP, charity worker, community champion and pro-life campaigner.

No seats were free in the vast church, where he served a member of the clergy for 62 years, and people spilled out into the entrance.

Local and national dignitaries attended the service.

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, Lord David Alton of Liverpool and John Cotter, vice chair of pro-life campaign group Right to Life, read during the service.

A eulogy was read by MP David Amess, one of Mr Hargreaves’s closest friends for the past 30 years.

The service was led by Father John Daly, while the church choir led emotional hymns.

Also in attendance were Dorothy Mcgregor of Maundy Grange, Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, and all members of the council, and former councillors.

A mass had been held at the church the previous evening.

Mr Amess said: “He would have been very proud to see so many people here today. He would have thought ‘ooh eck, this is all for me’.”

He said Mr Hargreaves, who died of cancer at East Lancashire Hospice last month, received more than 700 get well soon cards when he was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1983.

Mr Amess added: “He was an inspirational man, the nearest thing to a saint I have ever met. If anyone deserves to go to heaven, Ken does.”

Father Daly said: “Ken was a product of the community. It’s always a delight when you get someone like Ken in your parish.”

A family eulogy was given by his nephew Joe Duhan, He described his uncle as a ‘ferociously loyal public servant’, and a ‘man of great morals, deep loyalty and tremendous courage.’ His burial was at Dill Hall Cemetery, Church, followed by a reception at Oswaldtwistle Social Club.