A BENCH has been installed next to a Darwen park in memory of a longstanding warden and a ‘great man’.

Friends of Bold Venture Park have installed a bench in Borough Road to remember former borough parks superintendent John Firth.

Mr Firth, from Darwen, died in February age 78 after spending more than 50 years working on parks across the town.

Harry Duxbury, chair of the friends group, said: “He was such a longstanding worker in the parks.

“He started as an apprentice and worked his way up to be in charge of the parks for Blackburn with Darwen as parks superintendent.

“He spent his whole life working on parks so we thought it was only right that we dedicated something for him.”

The bench has been paid for by the friends group and overlooks Mr Firth’s old house in Buff Street where he lived for many years.

Mr Firth began working in the parks when he was an apprentice at Bold Venture Park age 16.

He continued to work within the borough's parks under for more than 50 years.

Councillors in the area praised Mr Firth for his commitment to working to improve the area.

Darwen town councillor David Smith said: “He was such a fantastically knowledgeable guy.

“His knowledge of parks, and everything in the area, was just incredible.

“If I ever had a query about anything I’d go to him to ask.

“He was absolutely passionate about parks and helping people in the area, he was just a great man.”

Mr Firth, who was a dad-of-one and grandfather-of-three grandchildren, also spent many years working with the Rotary Club of Darwen and the Lloyds Trust Charity in the area.

Cllr Eileen Entwistle, who represents Sudell for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I’d known John for years, he was a distance relative of mine because our grandmothers were related.

“He had a lot of knowledge about parks and so many things.

“He was a quiet person but he was such a nice man.

“He was always working with people to do the best for parks in the area.”