THE funeral of George Thornton will take place at Walton Crematorium next week.

Warrington Players’ Association Chairman George Thornton died at his home on Wednesday after a long illness, at the age of 74.

George’s funeral has now been arranged and will take place next Thursday, December 19 at 1.40pm at Walton Crematorium. With a celebration of George’s life back at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, with refreshments provided.

The wish is for family flowers only. If you would like to make a donation in George’s memory, a collection will be made at the Crematorium in aid of The Christie Lymphoma Research Manchester, a charity very close to George’s heart.

George was widely respected both at the club and throughout Warrington.

As well as his work with the players association, he was a former A team player for Warrington and a well-known photographer.

He worked for many years in the council press office, recording important events in the town and becoming a familiar face in Warrington.

Bob Williams was head of communications at Warrington Borough Council and wrote this tribute to him:

I first came across George when I worked at what was then BNFL. With responsibility for Advertising, PR and community relations, I would regularly organise, or be involved with, events where Warrington Council representatives, including The Mayor, Leader, senior councillors and officers would be there.

More often than not, George would pop up like clockwork, on behalf of the Council, to make that pictorial record.

I would later move to the Council, to head up its Communications team and one of the first people to welcome me, with his camera slung over his shoulder, was George. Over the next few years, we went on to build up a fantastic relationship, both professional and personal. He did a great job whatever he focused on through his lens – community groups, business leaders, Council members and staff, general public; even royalty.

He could always be relied on to deliver some amazing images, sometimes, many a time in fact, at very short notice. Whatever George had thrown at him, he’d handle it with his usual smile and amazing sense of humour, at times very dry!

After one particularly busy photo-call, George and I were walking back to the car when I grabbed one of his cameras and took a ‘photograph of the photographer’. He later commented it was a great shot and, to this day, I’m not sure whether he was referring to the quality of the picture or the subject matter!

He made a great contribution to what was a hard working communications team and a reliable team player. He was a true professional, respected by everyone he came into contact with.

Oh, and when we weren’t focused on work, he worked just as hard trying to convert this ‘Union’ lad to the world of rugby league and in particular, of course, his beloved Warrington Wolves – with some success I have to admit!

After he ‘moved on’ from the Council, I was one of a number of people who encouraged him to go for it and set up his own business – he wasn’t sure to begin with, but went on to approach it in the only way he knew; relaxed, but professional. I went on to work for another authority for a number of years before being made redundant, and it was then that George ‘returned the favour’, by being one of a number of people who encouraged me to set up my own business and I will be forever grateful to him for that.

George will never be forgotten and will, of course, live on through his work - and his memorable one-liners, including ‘I’m a photographer, not a plastic surgeon’ and, in response to any group of men standing with their arms down and crossed in front of them, ‘I’m taking a photograph, not a free-kick’.

I’m proud to have known, to have worked with and to have been asked to pay this tribute to George Thornton – the man, the smile, the camera.

My thoughts are with his wife Diane, daughter Kerry and his wider family at this very sad and difficult time.