TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘football-mad’ grandad who dedicated his life to the sport and his family.
Dad-of-two David Hodgkinson, 65, died suddenly after suffering a heart attack at Chorley hospital.
The doting grandfather and dad to Simon and Nicky, was a popular member of Chorley’s footballing community and was the chairman of the Chorley Referees’ Association.
His family and friends honoured his love of the sport by turning out in football shirts for his funeral service.
His colleagues from the association, who were also in full referee strips, blew the final whistle as his coffin was carried from St Joseph’s Church, in Harpers Lane.
His wife Krysia said: “Dave lived for football and his six grandchildren. He loved them to bits and they all loved him back just as much.
“He had supported Blackburn Rovers all of his life, and had played football before becoming a referee.
“He had done that for more than 30 years and even after having a triple heart bypass, he would referee at least one match a year, and charity and school football games.
“He was also the chair of the association and always talking about Rovers or England.”
Krysia, who celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary with Dave in September, said he had been left heartbroken after his granddaughter, Jade Pickering, was killed in a car crash, aged 16.
She added: “It gives me some comfort to know he is with Jade now and he is looking after her.
“He was so upset he couldn’t bear to talk about what had happened, but we would visit her grave every Sunday and he would make sure it was kept nice.”
Dave, who retired six months ago, had also posed as Father Christmas at the town’s grotto, which his daughter Nicky helped organise to help raise money to revive the Chorley Carnival.
Krysia added: “He was Father Christmas and I was Mother Christmas and the children brought us everything from letters to chocolate.”