Tragedy as talented footballer who was ‘life and soul of party’ dies suddenly aged 47

Tributes have been paid to a gifted footballer and election candidate who was the ‘life and soul of the party’ and ‘a very genuine and popular lad.’

Stuart Brannigan of Broadway, Helmshore, suddenly passed away on April 25 at his home, aged 47. His family do not know the cause of his death at this time.

Stuart grew up in Helmshore where he ran for the local election in his 20s for the Labour Party. His wife, Kellie, said: “He was the life and soul of the party and he was a very genuine and popular lad.

“There wasn’t a football ground he hadn’t said ‘I’ve played there’ and he always had a ball at his feet.”

In a joint statement, his parents Joe and Angela, said: “He played football ever since he could kick a ball.


"Football was the centre of his world and we took him all over the country to play in competitions. He was born with a skill.”

Stuart was a talented striker and played for a number of football teams including Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United Academy and Bury. His talents strongly shone through the matches he played and he won hundreds of trophies.

Ipswich approached him to join them while he was with Manchester United but he decided not to join. He was also presented with a trophy by Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton.

Stuart also played for the Clarence pub’s football team in Haslingden in his later years. The beloved father-of-one took up the role of referee and he became a well known friendly face in the borough.

Stuart’s father, Joe, played football and Stuart fell even more in love with the sport after watching Glasgow Celtic play. Stuart and his family enjoyed trips to Spain and Rhyl, Wales.

Kellie and Stuart attended St Mary’s School in Haslingden where he held the record for the most goals scored in a season. They also attended All Saints School in Rawtenstall and were together for 27 years.

The childhood sweethearts had their dream wedding in Greece at a town hall in 2006 and had their adored daughter, Maisie.

The inseparable couple worked at P&S Filtration in their youth and then Stuart went on to work as a showroom manager at Millennium Blinds in Haslingden for about ten years.