DARTH Vader strolled down Manchester Road and Star Wars stormtroopers were seen outside Burnley Town Hall.

But this wasn’t an invasion by the Galactic Empire – it was a fitting tribute to a sci-fi fan from the town.

The weird and wonderful array of characters gathered at a fundraising party in honour of Simon Kennerley, who died in 2010 from cancer aged just 37.

Around 80 of his friends and family gathered for the party at Koko’s, in Elizabeth Street, which raised more than £600 for Pendleside Hospice, where Simon spent his final hours.

The party was organised by Simon’s close friends, Vicki Sharp, Emma Bracewell and Linzi Blake and guest of honour was Simon’s mother, Maureen, who came as a fetching Princess Leia.

Vicki said: “We’d planned the evening for several months and it went fantastically well.

“So many people remember Simon with affection and we decided to have a special party to remember him by.

“There were plenty of wardrobe malfunctions, wigs falling off, feet through tights and trousers falling down but that just added to the fun.

“Knowing Simon as we did we all knew that he would have fallen about laughing if he could have seen us.”

Burnley band K-Billy performed, as the members were Simon’s friends and Burnley FC donated a signed shirt and ball to be auctioned.

Star Wars actors including Vader himself, David Prowse, also donated signed prints to be sold.