Tributes paid to Blackpool church and charity hero

Methodist lay preacher Stuart Furnival who has died and wife Judy on their Golden Wedding aniversary

Tributes have flooded in for a well-known Blackpool churchman and charity worker who has died.

Stuart Furnival, 73, was described as a man of compassion with a wonderful sense of humour.

He was a lay pastor at the New Central Methodists for many years until his retirement, and a chaplain at the Houndshill Shopping Centre.

But he will be best known to many other people outside the Methodist Circuit as one of the driving forces behind charities for the homeless.

He was married to Judy and they celebrated their golden wedding last year. He died peacefully in his sleep unexpectedly on May 2 and his funeral will be held this Friday.

His son David Furnival said: “He was involved in so many different organisations in Blackpool over the years.

“He retired a couple of years ago but was still very actively involved. He was a former chairman of the Lancashire County Council’s faith forum, a trustee at Helping Hands and a former chairman of the Claremont Centre.

“Dad was born in Stoke-on-Trent and lived in Cheadle Hulme before moving to Blackpool in 2000.

“He had his own snacks sales business before coming to Blackpool and working for the church full time.”

Daughter Lesley said: “When dad started his work with the Church in Blackpool he was passionate about supporting homeless people and anyone in need of help.

“He set up a food parcel service with generous donations from church members and was also instrumental in starting the Comfort Zone that is still running at North Shore Methodist Church.

“We have been very moved and overwhelmed by the support and cards already received, it is clear that he touched a lot of people’s lives and will be sadly missed by people across Blackpool.

“Many of the cards received mention dad’s love and friendship as well as his cheeky sense of humour.”

Rev Sally Coleman from New Central Methodist Church said: “He did a huge amount in Blackpool working with the Methodist Church and with charities, even after his retirement. He was a great encourager and person of wisdom. He also had a wonderful sense of humour, very dry, and he was compassionate and serious when he needed to be.

“On Sunday the children from Sunday school all wrote tributes to him. Many have known him all their lives, he baptised some of them.

“One little boy wrote a card to his family saying he was heartbroken. He will be greatly missed.”

Daughter Lesley added: “People would be welcome to join the family at a service of thanksgiving for Stuart’s life on Friday, May 13 at 2pm at New Central Methodist church. If anyone wishes to make donations that will go to charities in memory of dad they can be given through Hollowell and Sons funeral directors.”

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