Tributes paid to Blackburn Rovers season ticket holder Graham Swarbrick who died from coronavirus

Graham Swarbrick died peacefully with his wife Tonia at his bedside.

Family and friends will be wearing blue and white at the funeral on February 24 at Charnock Richard Crematorium.

Son Darren said his dad, 67, was fanatical about Rovers.

He said: “He was a season ticket holder for over 40 years, and rarely missed a match home or away.

“He had a few favourite Rovers players such as Ronnie Clayton, Colin Hendry, Alan Shearer, Matt Jansen and more recently Danny Graham.

“He would even go to watch the Under-23s play at Lancashire FA, with his daughter Lisa, and granddaughters Beth and Natasha.

“His favourite Rovers moment has to be lifting the Premier League in 1994/95 season.

“He also loved away days with myself, Lisa, Beth, Tash and his good friend Ken.”

The family have been amazed by the messages of support from friends.

Darren added: “From football supporters far and wide, it’s touching to know how many lives he affected, he would have been proud to read the messages.

“He will be lovingly remembered by all his family and friends.”

Graham was admitted to Royal Preston Hospital on January 25 as he was having trouble breathing.

Darren added: “He had tested negative for Covid the day before, but was retested on arrival and tested positive.

“His certificate states he died of Covid pneumonia.

“If dad could have picked a way to go, it would have been peacefully with his wife and soulmate Tonia by his side.

“That is what he got, although they had many plans for the future and he would have wanted to be around his family for as long as he could.

“Covid stole that from him, and him from us.

“Dad was very careful, always wore his mask if leaving the house, and followed the guidelines to the letter but it still got him.

“It doesn’t discriminate, it makes me really sad to see on the news people having parties or cafes opening when they shouldn’t.

“It’s very easy to feel relaxed about Covid until it affects somebody you know, and so people need to be as careful as they can.

“Whilst it might not affect you directly, you could be passing it on to somebody else and their family.”

Tonia was born in Malta but moved to East Lancashire. Her son Joseph and daughter Lorna still live in Oswaldtwistle with their children Luca, Lulu, Mica and Saul, who Graham would often visit.

He also leaves mum Marjorie and sister Sandra, who were from Inverness in Scotland, his children, Darren and Lisa from Leyland, his grandkids Bethany, who lives in Blackburn, and Natasha, Amber and Bailey from Leyland.

Graham was a committee member at South Ribble Development Centre and an engineer at Leyland Trucks.

Darren said: “He followed in his dad’s footsteps who was also an engineer there. In his semi retired years he was a courier for a dentist firm, collecting and dropping off casts for dentures three days a week.

“He used to help me coach the Under-7s. He was instrumental in helping us set up the football club in 2019 and played a big part in our fundraising events for local charity Derian House Children’s Hospice.

“It was where he really came to the fore was the bond he built with the players, the club has teams from under-6s to adults.

“He would spend a lot of his weekends going to watch as many of the teams play as he could.

“He knew a lot of the younger players on first name terms, always had words of encouragement for them, and would natter to the parents on the touch line, he was a real people person.

“He would spend his Sunday mornings travelling across Lancashire to support the adults team, and would always join the lads for a pint after the match.”

The funeral will be online. For details contact William Houghton Funeral Directors on 01772 782291.

Darren is trying to cycle the distance to Malta and back to raise money for the Royal Preston Hospital and South Ribble Development Centre. Go to JustGiving and search ‘Cycle Leyland to Malta and back – In memory of Graham Swarbrick’.

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs