GEORGE Haywood’s considerable community contributions, including on the football and swimming scenes, are being celebrated.

Tributes are being paid to a grandfather, born in 1936, who served for over 30 years with both the Warrington and District Football League and Penketh Swimming Club.

He died peacefully on May 22 at Callands Care Home and his funeral will take place on Monday, June 8.

George, who was married to Chris, lived in Penketh all his life and worked at engineering firm Rubery Owen and latterly Warrington Borough Council, was a past Penketh Parish Council chairman and held positions with Eagle Sports Football Club and the Penketh Carnival Committee, among others, during his lifetime.

Football played a big part in his life, from his days as a player to his position of Warrington and District Football League chairman for 18 years.

Current league president John Garner, 84, of Paddington, was a volunteer alongside him.

“We were at school together, Penketh and Sankey Secondary Modern in Heath Road when it first opened,” said John.

“He was a big lad then and used to knock hell out of us on the football field.

“We went our different ways for a spell, but then football brought us together with George playing for Eagle Sports and myself trying to play for the GPO.

“I remember on one occasion George came home early from his honeymoon so he could play for Eagle Sports against GPO.

“He was more or less a centre half, but he ventured up to centre forward and had a running battle with a lad named Brian Hughes who was the goalkeeper of Padgate St Oswalds.

“And in those days of course the centre forward could put the goalkeeper in the back of the net along with the ball – and George was famous for that with Brian!

“He was a player, secretary and then a life member of Eagle Sports – also Penketh Swimming Club, who he had a lot of involvement with.

“He was certainly a stalwart of the league, too, and better known as Big George.”

John acknowledged George – father of Ian and Andrea and grandfather of Grace, Carrie and Kate – as a man who gave up his time for the enjoyment of others.

“He was made for it. He was a gentle giant and a great guy,” said John.

“It’s fair to say he was there for everybody else.

“He was a good chairman and spent so much time doing good for everybody. He was very efficient and well on the ball.

“And he was very good company along with his wife Chris when we had functions.

“He was also well known for riding around Penketh on his bike, too, even when he’d retired.”

John said George joined the Warrington and District Football League management committee in the early 1970s as a club representative.

He took on the role of vice-chairman in 1987 and chairman in 1991, along with affiliated membership of Liverpool FA, until his retirement due to poor health in 2009 when he was honoured with the position of life vice-president.

“During all this time, either playing for Eagle or serving on committee he was fully supported by his wife Chris,” said John.

“And we used to talk about football on presentation evening at the Crest Hotel in Runcorn into the early hours of Sunday morning.”

At the same time, George’s work with Penketh Swimming Club evolved.

He was a founding member of the club in 1974, taught many children and adults how to swim and went on to become chairman.

George retired from the club and committee, after 34 years of service, in 2008, when he was presented with lifetime membership in recognition of his dedication, support and service on behalf of the clubs’ swimmers, teachers and committee.

Some members will be meeting at Penketh Pool, Honiton Way, on Monday to pay their respects to George as he passes on the journey from his Windmill Lane home to Walton Lea Crematorium, where a family service will take place at 11.40am.

A statement on the club’s Facebook page reads: “Penketh Swimming Club has lost one of our beloved and popular founding members, George Haywood, he was our greatly respected club chairman for many years. Teaching so many of us to swim over the years.

“We owe eternal thanks to him for leading our club and his team of volunteers for decades.

“His dedication ensured we still remain the most successful group to operate in Penketh Pool’s 46-year history!

“So truly passionate about his community - being part of many grassroot football clubs, boys’ club, St Joseph’s and the Conservative Club, the original and best Penketh Carnival and serving as a well respected Penketh Parish Council chairman to name but a few.”

Club members have been leaving tributes on the club’s Facebook page.

“George was a true gentleman and did so much for the club over the years,” said Martin Craven.

“I had the privilege of George teaching me all those years ago. I remember looking up at the side to such a big man standing there yet he was so gentle and kind.

“He put the enjoyment in the lessons to ensure I kept coming back. Here I am 20+ years later still there, teaching and doing exactly what he did... inspiring children to swim and be confident in the water.

“The club and the Penketh community have lost a great man.”

Valerie Atherton said: “I had the privilege of being part of his teaching volunteers for many years.

“He also taught both my daughters to swim and then for them to become teachers themselves. He is a true inspiration to hundreds of children. He loved his community. RIP xx”

Dave Balfe added: “We were very lucky to have this man at the heart of the community growing up in the 80s.

“All the way through swimming club, the carnivals and so many other community events he was always at the heart of it.

“I’m proud to have had such a long and positive experience as a youth growing up with Penketh Swimming Club and as a teacher, these things have served me well all my life.

“Rest easy Sir, God bless.”