Tributes have been paid to a big-hearted gardener who would give anyone his last penny.
Stephen Sharples died on October 3 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 55.
The dad-of-two, from Walmsley Close in Church, worked as a landscape gardener for Lancashire County Council (LCC) before stopping work due to ill health.
Son Gary said he was “a great dad with the biggest heart of anyone” he knew.
He added: “He had a great smile and was very cheeky - he was very much like me, he loved to have a laugh.
“Even when he got cancer he’d say ‘there are always people worse off than me Gary’. He was very resilient, even when he wasn’t well he just kept bouncing back. He never whinged about anything and lived by the motto ‘one day at a time’.”
Nicknamed ‘Spanner’ because of his love of tinkering with bikes and cars, Stephen loved buying motorbikes and doing them up as well as doing karaoke in his local, the former Grand Social Club in Great Harwood, where he was born and grew up.
He suffered from mental health issues and was looked after by his sisters Joan Kemp, Irene Kenyon and his sister-in-law Mary Ainsworth in the last few years of his life.
A former Norden High School pupil, he worked for 15 years for LCC as a gardener, tree surgeon and gravedigger, outdoor jobs which Gary said suited him very well.
He said: “He loved the outdoors and being out on the moors - it was ideal for him really. He liked fishing too and was a member of Hyndburn and District Fishing Club. He also took me and my brother Jason to Blackpool every weekend, where we’d stay in the caravan and have barbecues.”
Gary, who now lives in Southampton, added that his dad could always be found wearing a baseball cap with a cigarette in his hand.
He joked: “He always had a fag in his hand. It got to the point where we’d have to warn him when we were coming round as it was like TV’s Stars In Their Eyes when we’d go in with all the thick smoke. We’ll all really miss him - there will just be a gap now.”
Stephen’s ex-wife Debbie Hudson said: “Stephen was a good man who never had a bad word about anyone.
“He loved his sons more than anything and always looked forward to seeing them when they came back home on leave.”
See full obituary below.