Hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their last respects to former Hyndburn MP Ken Hargreaves.

Family members, friends and colleagues from across the country packed into the chapel at St Mary’s RC Church, Oswaldtwistle to remember him.

They included former government minister Ann Widdecombe who read prayers during the service.

Mr Hargreaves died on Saturday, June 23 aged 73 following a long battle with cancer. He had served as the borough’s MP from 1984 to 1992, and as a councillor for Oswaldtwistle from 1965 to 1984. Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, Hyndburn council leader Miles Parkinson, Conservative leader Coun Peter Britcliffe and Hyndburn Mayor John Broadley all attended the service on Wednesday, July 4.

Also in attendance were Dorothy McGregor, patron of charity Maundy Relief where Mr Hargreaves was a volunteer.

A Royal British Legion colour guard led the funeral procession into the church in recognition of the contribution that Mr Hargreaves had made to the organisation during his life.

Due to the size of the chapel, about a dozen mourners had to listen to the two-hour service in the church lobby.

David Amess, Conservative MP for Southend West, read a eulogy in memory of his friend and former colleague.

He said he will never forget the time Mr Hargreaves was sent a letter from the Serjeant at Arms at Westminster after Mr Hargreaves’ research assistant tried to take 450 guests on a tour of the House of Commons when he was only allowed to have 15 guests at one time.

Mr Amess said: “When he went into Parliament everyone in his constituency was invited to visit him in London.

“He was a man of high integrity and the nearest thing to a saint that I have ever met.”

A devout Catholic, Mr Hargreaves was an altar server at St Mary’s RC Church for 63 years.

During his homily Father John Daly said the parish was fortunate to have a member as committed as Mr Hargreaves was.

He said: “Ken loved other people.

“He helped people not because he was an MP but because he was a human being.”

Following the service a funeral cortege travelled from the church on Catlow Hall Street to Rhyddings Street past the Oswaldtwistle War Memorial and up Union Road to Dill Hall Cemetery where Mr Hargreaves was laid to rest.

Hyndburn council put a book of condolence at Accrington Town Hall and at the Civic Arts Centre, Oswaldtwistle for residents to sign.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the bowling green at Rhyddings Park in Oswaldtwistle is to be named after Mr Hargreaves.

Hyndburn council has agreed to rename the green as The Ken Hargreaves Bowling Green in memory of the former MP who was known to many as Mr Oswaldtwistle.

Conservative group leader Coun Britcliffe said the gesture was a tremendous tribute to Ken. Coun Britcliffe said: “I discussed this with Ken before he died and he expressed a wish that the Bowling Green at Rhyddings Park be named after him.

“This would be wonderful as Ken was first and foremost an Oswaldtwistle lad of St Mary’s RC Parish and the green is in the heart of the town.”

The announcement was made during a meeting of the Oswaldtwistle Area Council on Wednesday.

Neil Mooney, chairman of the Friends of Rhyddings Park group, said the tribute was very fitting. He added: “We thought it was a wonderful idea.”

A ceremony is to be held next year at the start of the bowls season to mark the new name.