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Farewell to the history man – a tribute to Paul Swarbrick

Posted on - 4th January, 2018 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - People, Preston News
Paul Swarbrick, left, pictured at a recent Preston Historical Society event at Preston Minster with Pat Harrison and Stephen Sartin
Paul Swarbrick, left, pictured at a recent Preston Historical Society event at Preston Minster with Pat Harrison and Stephen Sartin

Below is a copy of our Blog Preston tribute to Paul Swarbrick included in the special tribute edition presented at his funeral on Thursday 4 January. There’s also details of how to make a donation in memory of Paul to a Preston charity he was proud to support.

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Writing these words has been tough, for I have only had the pleasure of knowing Paul since 2012 but in that time we formed a strong partnership and bond.

In those five years he became a key part of Blog Preston and what we have done and continue to do – to tell people about the city that they live in, and Paul was integral to that. His work was read by tens of thousands of people, both in the city, and further afield.

His knowledge, vast knowledge, of Preston was a rich tool to have available to our team as we put together stories about the city. Because, as Paul would regularly tell me, you can learn a lot from history.

We were a strange duo, for I did not grow up in Preston, I was not born here, not to mention the three and a bit decades between us, but this did not matter to Paul. As many have told me throughout researching this tribute edition, once Paul had taken his time to get to know you, and decided you ‘were alright’, as he would say, then he would ensure nothing was too much trouble for you.

And that’s how I choose to remember Paul. The man who helped, always helped others. He probably helped too much.

Copy of the special edition of Blog Preston printed for Paul's funeral
Copy of the special edition of Blog Preston printed for Paul’s funeral

Many times I would call of an evening while working on a story about a planning application for some old building that hadn’t been touched since 1992. I had to time my calls, knowing full well I would still be on the phone half-an-hour later receiving chapter and verse about exactly what that building had been over the decades and how Paul had once snuck in there as a young lad and got up to mischief.

Preston ran through him, and he ran through Preston. He represented Blog Preston at so many events and functions that he became synonymous with it. And I can’t think of a better ambassador for us. Proud. Professional. And always photographing. He was rarely without his camera and loved nothing more than taking pictures of the events in the city, be they modern, or historical, it was about documenting the modern history with Paul as much as recalling bygone times.

Preston has lost one of its most colourful, knowledgeable and most loved characters. We will ensure his work stays online for others to read, as it always makes me smile when a story from a couple of years ago pops back up with a fresh comment on it. ‘These old pictures of Fishergate are fantastic, thank you for bringing these memories for me to see.’ – that’s what those comments always say.

It’s not nostalgia, it’s a sense of place. And Paul had that, and got that, history shouldn’t be kept in a box and stuck in a dusty room. Paul had a passion for ensuring history was shared and talked about by all generations.

Whether it be his work for the Preston Historical Society, Winckley Square, Blog Preston, Preston Pals or many other organisations he helped, Paul wanted to ensure the city’s heritage was not just protected but also showcased.

So I hope this tribute edition does him proud, and he’s not fuming too much about some of the photos we have picked out to be used (yes, his hair wasn’t always white!).

Gill and Paul on Armed Forces Day in 2015, covering it for Blog Preston
Gill and Paul on Armed Forces Day in 2015, covering it for Blog Preston

I must also express the privilege it has been in being asked to produced this by Gill as well as his children. Speaking to so many people who knew Paul, loved Paul and wanted to share their thoughts and stories about him has spoken volumes to me. And been a very humbling experience.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this tribute edition, no, scrap that, this celebration edition of a man who did so much, for so many.

I’ll miss you Paul. We all will.

Rest in peace.

Ed Walker
Editor and founder, Blog Preston

How to donate in Paul’s memory

Paul’s family have asked for family flowers only at the funeral, but many people have asked how they can make a donation in Paul’s memory.

The family have asked for any donations to be made to the charity Dig In North West, one that has a special association with Paul and his family. The group has turned an abandoned area of Ashton Park into a walled garden for armed services veterans to learn life skills and make friends.

Read more: Exploring inside Ashton Park’s walled garden made by military veterans

Laura, Paul’s daughter, was one of the founding members of the charity and helped to make it what it is today. Paul and Gill covered the early days of Dig In being set up extensively on Blog Preston and were always quick to ensure it was in the public’s eye.

Paul was always very proud of his family’s involvement in the charity and would of wanted something local to see an injection of support in the event of his death.

Donations to Dig In North West can be made through its website or by calling 01772735558. Please reference Paul Swarbrick when making any donations.

You can leave your tributes to Paul below and as mentioned all his articles for Blog Preston will remain online.

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