A man hailed as one of Blackpool FC’s great ambassadors is being mourned after his death.
Tributes have been paid to Reverend Michael Ward, who was the club chaplain as well as chairman of Blackpool FC Community Trust. He died on Wednesday.
Rev Ward, 76, was described as the man to go to when anyone associated with the club needed advice. He led the service earlier this year after the death of club legend, Jimmy Armfield.
The chaplain’s death from pneumonia, after suffering kidney failure, was greeted with great sadness.
Community Trust chief executive Ashley Hackett said: “Losing Reverend Michael has left the staff at the Football Club and Community Trust in a great deal of distress.
“Michael was regularly in the offices and football facilities with a great smile on his face and a shoulder for people whenever they needed a chat or advice.
“Michael was a great ambassador of the club and the whole community, giving up many hours each week to support people in many ways. Our love and condolences go to his wife Liz, daughter Jane, son Andrew and the whole family in their time of loss.
“I would also like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the whole Community Trust team, to thank Michael for all his care and support over the years. He will be sorely missed.”
Rev Ward was born in South Yorkshire and moved to South Shore at the age of eight, where he lived for the rest of his life.
From a young age he was a fan of Blackpool FC and from 1955 attended nearly every home game.
Ordained as a priest in 2002 after years as a lay preacher, he became the club chaplain four years later.
At that time he was also priest-in-charge at St Peter’s Church on Lytham Road.
“He was perfect for club chaplain,” said son Andrew. “It was his dream job.”
Rev Ward married Liz in 1964 at Holy Trinity Church, Blackpool.
As well as Liz and their two children, he leaves four grandchildren - Eleanor, Thomas, Adam and Laura.