THE family of a war veteran turned engineer and volunteer has invited the community to his funeral in Leigh this week.

Last October, the Journal reported on the 100th birthday of WW2 veteran Francis Rothwell, who was joined by family, friends, veterans, volunteer groups, and even the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, which highlighted the respect that Francis had in the community.

Starting work at A Hodgson Engineers and Smith aged just 14, Francis went on to serve in the Second World War and received the Burma Star for his brave efforts fighting in Burma, Singapore, and Calcutta.

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Leigh Journal: Francis and Gillian at his 100th birthday party at Leigh Masonic HallFrancis and Gillian at his 100th birthday party at Leigh Masonic Hall (Image: Gillian Bromley)
On his return to Leigh, he married his childhood sweetheart Anne White in 1946, and after a few years at his former workplace, bought the business and served the community for more than six decades.

Following his trusted hard work across the community - which included the design and manufacture of the metal infills in the stairs inside Leigh Town Hall - Francis was honoured by figuring in one of the Town Hall murals.

Francis was also a committed member of Leigh Rotary Club and Leigh Abbeyfield Society throughout his life, with the dad, grandad, and great-grandad awarded an MBE from Prince Charles for his charitable work with the organisations.

Leigh Journal: Francis with the Lord Lieutenant of Greater ManchesterFrancis with the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester (Image: Gillian Rothwell)
To commend him for his lifetime of service and volunteering, Francis was presented with a certificate from the Global Abbeyfield Society and a Triple Ruby Paul Harris Award from Rotary International at his birthday party last year, which is the highest award granted by the organisation.

Francis was also helped by local writer Julie McKiernan to publish his life in a memoir, which is now treasured as a great way to reflect on the great man's life.

With Francis said to be thinking about others right until his death, his daughter Gillian said that the family has taken great comfort from the response to Francis' work in the community.

Reaching a grand age of 101, the family says that his funeral will be a celebration of a life well lived.

Francis' funeral takes place at Chowbent Unitarian Chapel at 2pm on Wednesday, November 15, and followed by a private celebration at Leigh Masonic Hall.