Tributes paid to 'warm and humorous' man who died after cancer battle

Thousands of pounds have been raised in memory of Chris Brennan, who died. <i>(Image: Rosemere Cancer Foundation)</i>
Thousands of pounds have been raised in memory of Chris Brennan, who died. (Image: Rosemere Cancer Foundation)

Thousands of pounds have been raised in memory of an East Lancashire man, Chris Brennan, who died.

Members and friends of Pendle And District Irish Society (PADIS), raised more than £2,000 for charity Rosemere Cancer Foundation when they packed Nelson’s Knights of St Columba Club for an afternoon of music and laughter to celebrate the life of Chris, who was a founding member and treasurer.

The event, which had a wear green dress code, was organised by Chris’ widow Janet Brennan, from Nelson.

Janet funded a free bar and the performance of Liverpool Irish musician and vocalist Steve O’Malley.

She said: “We felt so proud that so many people turned out for Chris. There was a great atmosphere. It was exactly the sort of occasion Chris would have loved to have attended.”

Chris died in April, aged 84. More than 150 people attended his funeral at Holy Saviours RC Church, Nelson, on May 1.

Chris co-founded PADIS 28 years ago after a chance meeting with another Irish ex-pat, the late Batt Cooney, in a Nelson pub.

Janet said: “We had gone out for a drink. The pub was really quiet. Chris came from Kilkenny, where there’s a tradition of live music in bars.

"He met Batt, who was from Cork. The idea was to bring people together for a bit of craic.”

Chris and Batt were joined by Chris Clegg, of Burnley, in founding the group. Janet became its membership secretary and is now its secretary.

Over the years, PADIS has raised thousands of pounds for a number of charities, including a donation of almost £9,500 for the Rosemere Cancer Foundation.

It has also organised numerous social gatherings and a number of subsidised trips to Ireland and other European countries. It currently has around 90 members plus many others, who attend its events.

In Ireland, Chris initially trained for the priesthood but after four years, his family was unable to afford to continue his training. They came to work in the UK and Chris took a job in a law firm and then in forestry before following his family to Lancashire.

He worked at furniture company GPlan and then set up his own taxi company, CB Taxis, which became Car Line Nelson.

Chris, who had daughter Amanda, son David, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren, was a widower when he married Janet 18 years ago.

Chris was diagnosed with prostate cancer 15 years ago for which he underwent treatment and remained in remission until last October. He and Janet had recently returned from a trip to Kilkenny when they were told the disease had come back.

Dan Hill, who is now head of charities at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but who got to know Chris when working as a fundraising manager for Rosemere Cancer Foundation, said: “Chris was a real driving force.

“He had that Irish warmth and humour about him. We are forever grateful to him and to PADIS for the support and donations they gave us.

“A lot of the earlier donations we received went towards the new chemotherapy unit at Burnley General Teaching Hospital that we were involved in part funding.

“Chris will be sadly missed but his legacy through his commitment to charity and PADIS will live on.”

Rosemere Cancer Foundation works to bring world-class cancer treatments and services to cancer patients from throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria being treated not only at Rosemere Cancer Centre but also at another eight local hospital cancer units across the two counties, including those at Burnley General Teaching and the Royal Blackburn Hospitals.